I am the original author of the Navigation List control.
Regarding TiltEffect and TurnstileFeather they should probably look for ItemsControl rather than ListBox in order to make them more flexible.
You mention that having a dedicated NavigationListItem container would be a good idea. I am not so sure about that. One of the reasons why the NavigationList is twice as fast to render compared to a ListBox is that it has a simplified UI. See the following
Regarding tilt, how about trying the following behaviour:
You should be able to apply this behaviour to the root element of your NavigationList.ItemTemplate giving you that sweet WP7 tilt effect.
(This is a current issue with WP7Contrib, we have different implementation of the same effect because of the various authors involved).
Anyhow, let me know if that helps at all,