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Leftover Salmon
The Nashville Sessions
Hollywood Records

If you have the slightest inclination toward bluegrass, slam dancing, Cajun music or polyethnicity, then you need no introduction to Leftover Salmon, the flag-bearers for Colorado's growing tradition of mountain-grown music. Neverthless, The Nashville Sessions is your invitation to a landmark coming-out party for the Nederland festival favorites.

There are still open bluegrass picks two or three times a week in Salmon's old stomping grounds in the mountains above Boulder, and it's common practice for a gaggle of beginning banjo and mando pickers to find Vince Herman sitting (imagine Herman sitting!) in on psycho guitar, or Tye North playing bass in an impromptu acid-jazz session. That spirit of jamming is what brought the band together in a Telluride campground, and it's the fuel that feeds the fire raging throughout The Nashville Sessions.

The album is a summit of every musician to ever tune up, plug in and bust out of the boundaries. From Earl Scruggs trading licks with Mark Venn on "Five Alive" and John Cown belting out harmonies on "Breakin' Thru," to John Popper's harmonica solo for "On the Other Side" or Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas battling through "Troubled Times," the album is an old-fashioned hootenanny with the feel-good factor cranked up to 11.

Despite the unmistakable, jubilant, festive energy of LOS, the album's distinguishing characteristic is the band's generous and subtle support of their hero-guests yielding high-charged hybrid retellings from Taj Mahal on "Lovin' in My Baby's Eyes," Waylon Jennings on "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?" and Lucinda Williams on "Lines Around Your Face."

Had enough yet? Don't forget Bela Fleck's multiple appearances, an electric guitar cameo from "Big Head" Todd Park Mohr and Widespread Panic's John Bell sitting in on vocals and slide National in the closing cover of "Nobody's Fault But Mine." The album is a triumphant testament to the Nedheads' ability to forge a new niche in the music scene while strengthening their ties to the tradition of irreverent revolution that inspired them.


Mandy Moore
So Real
Epic/550 Music

Is there some kind of hormone released in teenage girls, ages 13-17, which causes them to seek out singers who sing about nothing but heartaches and horniness, are brand-name-clothing billboards, dance like marionettes and act years older than they really are?

Mandy Moore is the latest in a string of way-too-young female singers to saturate the pop market. Her new album, So Real, sounds a whole lot like everything else on Top 40 radio these days. The release is your basic teen creation, complete with Backstreet Boys rhythms, Brittney Spears attitude and radio-ready lyrics. Songs like "Candy," the first single from the album (due to be released in January), which has already shot up the charts, drip with sugary sweetness. Moore sings about love and relationships in the way that only a 15-year-old girl can -- with plenty of fantasy and little experience.

The lyrics drip with dreamy lust: "Tonight is gonna be the night/I'll tell you how it's gonna be/I'm gonna give my love to you/If you give it back to me/That's the way I planned it, that's our destiny/only takes a minute, so come and go with me/Ain't no doubt about it, I'm so into you/Tell you just what I'm gonna do/Hit you with my love shot/Tell me, can you handle this/Or is it too hot? Only gonna take one kiss to show what I've got."

Moore isn't as blatantly sexual as some of the young female pop stars out there, and I doubt she'll be posing half-nude on the cover of Rolling Stone anytime soon. And certainly, this kind of sweaty, quickened-pulse lyric is nothing new to adolescent girls. Would I let my 13-year-old little sister listen to So Real? Probably. Would I spend every minute that the CD is in her player worrying that it's turning her brain to gooey, pseudo-mature love mush? Absolutely.

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