"Publisher's Corner"

by Geoff Wilbur
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NSync • No Strings Attached

Jive Records
Another disc from these five guys delivers just what you expect -- nice harmonized dance pop. As with Britney Spears (see review on back cover), these guys landed a Diane Warren-penned tune, in addition to a Richard Marx-written number and a fun cover of "Just Got Paid." This disc contains ballads destined for success, the first hit "Bye Bye Bye," and a guest appearance by Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes on "Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay)." Overall, another strong CD of just what you’d expect from NSync.

Lorrie Morgan • To Get To You (Greatest Hits Collection)

BNA Records
>From old hits like "We Both Walk" to great new numbers like "To Get To You," this is a collection of the essential Lorrie Morgan hits. The songs are inviting, friendly, and fun -- but if you’re a country music fan, you probably already know that about Lorrie’s music.

First Love • I Just Can’t Get Enough

These four young men are taking their shot at being the next male pop vocal group sensations. First cut "I Just Can’t Get Enough" is exactly the sort of catchy, harmonious song that’d make pre-teen girls swoon. The single "Freaky" opens reminiscent of "Right Stuff" -- a little too familiar for comfort, but that’s exactly the sort of thing that often scores big hits. Best bet for a ballad hit: "Stay Another Day."

Spiders & Snakes • London Daze

Deadline Records
With London Daze (as with the band’s previous efforts), Spiders & Snakes recalls early Motley Crue and the other pre-polished, screaming melodic rock bands of that time. But Spiders & Snakes doesn’t just sound like a fun, party guitar rock band, the band members even look the part. Personal favorites include "Nonstop Rock" and "Radio Stars," while raucous album tracks like "Party in Hollywood" and "Elvis’s TV" just add to the fun. Also of note is the lo-fi, big-sound "Dream Girl," with its guitar journeys and almost old-Kiss-ish flavor.

Loretta Cooper & Iron Horse

Reba Records
Loretta’s voice takes you back two or three decades to a time when all country music sounded like this -- a heartfelt twang in the voice and songs that often brought you to the brink of tears, both with their lyrics and delivery. (For example, take a listen to Loretta’s delivery of "Satin Sheets.") The back-to-back songs "I Just Need Your Love" and "This Should Go On Forever" show the range of speeds, from uptempo, danceable ditty to slow crooner, that Loretta’s voice is capable of nailing. Best bet for a current country hit: "The Biz."

Buck-O-Nine • Libido

TVT Records
Buck-O-Nine’s disc-opener, "Who Are They?", will drive you to Madness... or at least remind you of the aforementioned band. Other favorites on this disc include "Tell It Like It Was" and "On a Sunny Day." A mix of punk, guitar pop/rock, ska, and several other genres who’d prefer to remain anonymous, Buck-O-Nine delivers a fun, energetic sound that’ll keep a club (or party) crowd hoppin’ all night long.

Britney Spears • Oops!... I Did It Again

Jive Records
Hooray! (Or should I say oops?) There’s no sophomore slump here for Britney! Another disc of top-notch, danceable pop from the charming, multi-talented Miss Spears. The title track is a mind-grabber, and with the assistance of songwriters like Mutt Lange and Diane Warren, there’s no shortage of follow-up hits here! The only misstep is an ill-advised rendition of the Stones’ "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction." But there are several other radio-ready tracks in the vein of "Oops," plus my personal favorite, "Lucky," which has a slightly different danceable flavor, and a notable ballad in "One Kiss From You."

Trisha Yearwood • Real Live Woman

MCA Records
An impressive disc full of music that jumps back and forth across the border between soulful, fun country and soft guitar-driven pop/rock. Trisha’s versatile, and this CD shows it once again. Trisha again surrounds herself with great talent, from the songwriters to those who make single-song guest appearances singing the harmonies, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris, and Matraca Berg.

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