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Honorable Mention: Meshell Ndegéocello, Bitter (Maverick): slow is beautiful ("Loyalty," "Sincerity," "Satisfy"); the Meat Purveyors, More Songs About Buildings and Cows (Bloodshot): bluegrass with attitude— radical, maybe even lesbian attitude ("More Man," "Travel and Toil"); Michael Hurley, Weatherhole (Field): shoebox of American folk music ("Nat'l Weed Growers Assoc.," "Your Old Gearbox"); Dixie Chicks, Fly (Monument): unlike three virgins ("Goodbye Earl," "Sin Wagon," "Ready To Run"); Jordan Knight (Interscope): a much tastier Michael McDonald than Duncan Sheik (or Michael McDonald) ("Give It to You," "A Different Party," "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man"); Grandaddy, Signal to Snow Ratio (V2): accomplished sound with not much new to say meets 12 minutes to say it in ("MGM Grand," "Hand Crank Transmitter"); L7, Slap-Happy (Wax Tadpole/Bong Load): "Place my bet on my rockin' machine" ("Livin' Large," "Crackpot Baby"); George Jones, The George Jones Collection (MCA): too obvious too often ("Wild Irish Rose," "Golden Ring"); Len, You Can't Stop the Bum Rush (Work): good clean fun, right— plus, it raps ("Beautiful Day," "Cheekybugger"); Guitar Wolf, Jet Generation (Matador): is that a rocket in your pocket, or is this just a concept album about electric noise? ("Fujiyama Attack," "Cyborg Kids"); the Beautiful South, Quench (Mercury): next stop AA ("Dumb," "Your Father and I").

Choice Cuts: Cher, "Believe" (Believe, Warner Bros.); Matraca Berg, "Back In the Saddle" (Lying to the Moon and Other Stories, RCA); LFO, "Summer Girls" (LFO, Arista); Lorrie Morgan, "The Things We Do" (My Heart, BNA); New Kids on the Block, "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" (Greatest Hits, Columbia/ Legacy); Jennifer Lopez, "Let's Get Loud" (On the 6, Work); Silverchair, "London's Burning" (Burning London: The Clash Tribute, Epic); Sugar Ray, "Every Morning" (14:59, Lava/Atlantic); Lee Roy Parnell, "On the Road" (Hits and Highways Ahead, Arista); Trailer Bride, "Quit That Jealousy" (Smelling Salts, Bloodshot).

Duds: Christina Aguilera (RCA); Mary Chapin Carpenter, Party Doll and Other Favorites (Columbia); Kim Richey, Glimmer (Mercury); Shinehead, Praises (VP); Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense (Special New Edition) (Sire/Warner Bros.); David Thomas, Mirror Man (Thirsty Ear); Underworld, Beaucoup Fish (JBO/V2); Usher, Usher Live (LaFace).

Addresses: Bloodshot, 3039 West Irving Road, Chicago IL 60618; Bulldog, 1514 Richcreek Road, Austin TX 78757; Field, 140 North 7th Street, Brooklyn NY 11211; Hannibal, c/o Rykodisc, 530 North 3rd Street, Minneapolis MN 55401; Matador, 611 Broadway, Suite 712, NYC 10012; Merge, Box 1235, Chapel Hill NC 27514; Thirsty Ear, 274 Madison Avenue, Suite 804, NYC 10016; Tugboat, 66 Golborne Road, London W10 5PS, England.

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