The artwerkery for this Arizona Amp and Alternator album issues the super-cute statement, in black-and-white white-on-black: "official notice: this band has no members." Which, whilst being like totally zen/onkyo/conceptual/po-mo and all, is, really, just the latest adventure in artifice for Howe Gelb (of Howe, Giant Sand, OP8, the Band of Blacky Ranchette-styled (in)fame), who has, in recent seasons, been riding free-and-easy with the free rein handed to him by Bettina Richards' Thrill Jockey jamboree. After Giant Sand got stuck in various contractual hells in those natty '90s, Gelb has finally found fertile record-label ground, and his capricious discography has been bearing the fruit. This here memberless band is a forum for him and friends to knock out varying jams in Gelb's whilst-the-other-Giant-Sand-guys-are-off-touring-in-Calexico spare time, recorded at home, in Arizona, by Howie G. Whilst the set does stagger around a bit from lounge-band covers of standards to a stripped-down four-song suite of short-and-sweet numbers numerically titled as installments in the greater Arizona Amp and Alternator theme (theme songs, even) it stays, in all its inconsistencies, consistent with the gear Gelb has long made and traded in: whispery, echoey, desert-y, downcast-country sketchery. The helping hands in AAAA's conceptual "garage" include Gelb protégés Giant Sand and M.Ward, Danish chanteuse Marie Frank (and band), longtime PJ Harvey co-worker John Parish, and Bleach-tressed quiet/loud indie-vixen Scout Niblett, whose omnipresent orange overalls, in all their unwashed glories, fit the Howe & the Mechanics vibe perfectly. There's probably some great automotive metaphor with which to compare, and condense, the contents of the compact disc, some sort of talk of rattling machinery and a fan belt made from old pantyhose and flaking paint or whatever ever, fancy-type writery that would make this album's ad-hoc, all-over-the-shop, let's-hang-at-my-house-eat-barbecue-and-jam feel feel like a natural comparison to a car. But, if Gelb's eccentricities have made him anything, it's unmetaphorable. Long may words fail.