Cloud Nothings, Matthew Sweet and Spiral Stairs show their heart with new songs for Calgary compilation

It was something Ryan Montemurro considered “unfinished.”

Or perhaps you could even say half-hearted.

That’s why the local music lover has just released Volume Two of his Taking It to Heart various artist compilation albums in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Sitting at the bar of a busy Palomino at lunchtime, Montemurro explains that there were a few songs left over from that first record, which was released on his fledgeling Treeline Recordings label in September of last year and featured unreleased tracks by such acts as The Besnard Lakes, Duotang, Kevin Drew and locals such as Chad VanGaalen and Melted Mirror.

And when he started reaching out to more artists, well, things just “kept expanding.”

So much so that for Volume Two there are two bonus tracks on the digital download — which each LP comes with — including one song from Edmonton’s Diamond Mind and another from Detroit artist Scott Fab.

Not that any bonuses are really needed, as the 13-song album proper is chock full of some sensational names and numbers including tracks from Spiral Stairs, Matthew Sweet, Dan Mangan, The Wet Secrets, Cloud Nothings and Astral Swans.

As was the case of Volume One, for the second release Montemurro assembled most of the lineup through cold calls, merely emailing them out of the blue because he was a fan.

Two of the heavy-hitters, Spiral Stairs, a.k.a. former Pavement member Scott Kannberg, who Montemurro met at Sled Island when the artist was guest curator at the festival, and veteran popsmith Sweet, he reached out to after buying their new albums through their crowd funding campaigns.

They were surprisingly amenable — the latter a particular thrill for Montemurro to include.

“It’s amazing, he is one of my Top 10 artists. It just boggles my mind that he wanted to be involved,” he says.

Perhaps his biggest get, though, was securing a track from Cleveland indie darlings Cloud Nothings, which got the compilation some press, most notably on taste-making website Pitchfork.

Helping the cause is that all of the acts guarantee Montemurro six-month exclusivity from the release of the limited edition albums — only 300 physical copies of the gorgeous coloured vinyl are available, 500 for Volume One — after which they’re free to release them again however they see fit.

“They were generous to donate all of this amazing music, I wanted them to be able to use it for their own purposes after the fact,” he says.

That said, Montemurro acknowledges that almost half of the acts, including Halifax band Walrus, Montreal’s Traces and Minneapolis crew Fury Things, contributed songs that were written and recorded specifically for the compilation.

“I’m really kind of honoured,” he says.

Perhaps it’s because many of them felt a personal connection to the cause itself, which is an important one to Montemurro as well — he’s lost several family members to heart attacks and strokes are common among the men on his family tree.

That adds some extra weight to recent news that he’s broken even on Taking It to Heart Volume One, meaning that everything that now comes from that is pure donation to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

You can add those future funds to the $2,650 raised during a recent release party for the second record up in Edmonton, which was then matched by Cenovus, the company Montemurro’s wife works for.

And he’s hoping to up the tally when he hosts another release party at the Nite Owl and a yet-to-be determined date in February — fittingly heart month.

As to whether or not this completes things for Montemurro or if there could possibly be a Volume Three, he won’t entirely rule anything out. But with a new baby in his family and all of the work it took to put together both records over the past two-and-a-half years, he’s not about to throw himself into it any time soon.

“It’s been super rewarding and amazing that we’re now actually getting to the point where we’re making donations,” he says.

“But with a new addition — he’s kind of a time tyrant — I’m not sure how much time I’m going to have to be able to do it.”

Taking It to Heart Volume Two is available now from Lukes Drug Mart, Melodiya Records, Sloth Records, Heritage Posters and Music, Blackbyrd Myoozik and Turn It Up Records & Hi-Fi South, or online from here

Here are the complete track listings for both volumes of the Taking It to Heart compilations:

Volume One

1. Operators – Shape Of Things To Come (ft. Meredith Graves)

2. Melted Mirror – Hungry Shades 

3. Kevin Drew – Alberta

4. Wayne Petti – Knife Fight Night Life 

5. Chad VanGaalen – Delicious Plants

6. Woodpigeon – Devastating (Trapper remix) 

7. Pre Nup – Mickey Mouse Stuff

8. We Are Wolves – Feed Them

9. Duotang – Reactionaries

10. Nap Eyes – The Rooks

11. SAVK – Racing Slicks

12. Noah’s Arkweld – Save Me From Myself

13. The Besnard Lakes – 46 Satires (live)

Volume Two

1. Spiral Stairs – Hypnotized (demo)

2. Matthew Sweet – Lonely Summer

3. Walrus – Mr. Insecure

4. Cloud Nothings – Relief

5. Traces – In Fragments

6. Dan Mangan – Garçon Means Boy

7. The Wet Secrets – Tidal Wave Of Hate (Baby Let’s Surf)

8. CTZNSHP – Tropical Kings

9. Fury Things – Fake

10. The Low Joy Ceiling – Everyone Knows A Jonathon

11. Marlaena Moore – You Love Me

12. Astral Swans – No Home Left In The Head

13. Nick Diamonds – UFO Marzipan

14. Diamond Mind – Halo’s Heavy (bonus)

15. Scott Fab – Bottom Line (bonus)