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Previewing new albums from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dolly Parton, Counting Crows, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and more.

'Way' Down Yonder

RHCPSinger Anthony Kiedis experienced the full range of a relationship's emotions while crafting the Red Hot Chili Peppers' latest Warner Bros. album "By the Way," due this week. He took inspiration from love's immeasurable joys and also from its knotty pitfalls, and in the process came together with his bandmates to create a compelling follow-up to the group's best-selling album "Californication."

Kiedis says that it was the "energy of relationships and being in love and the overwhelming feeling of 'everything is OK because I'm with this person, and my heart is pounding and my blood is flowing and I feel this huge connection'" that first came through while writing for the project. The set's title track is already No. 1 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Several tunes that look at the carefree side of romance, such as "Universally Speaking," which combines a somewhat 1950s sound with 1970s psychedelia and features an instantly hummable, feel-good chorus. "The Zephyr Song" is about flying away on a plane with a lover to escape a confining world. Another standouts is the expressive, melodic ballad "I Could Die for You," of which guitarist John Frusciante says is "one as a guitar player I am really proud of. It's got a lot of interesting chords in it from a musical standpoint. On top of that, the lyrics just blow my mind."

'Halo,' How Are Ya?

Dora Lee"I make jokes about the fact that I had to get rich in order to be able to sing like I was poor again," Dolly Parton says, referring to the heartfelt Appalachian flavor of her new Blue Eye/Sugar Hill collection, "Halos & Horns." "I'm just loving having this outlet where I can go back and do what I really love to do -- actually, what I do best," she says. "There just wasn't a market for me for many years. Then I started doing the same music I came out of the Smoky Mountains with, and it's catching on again."

Like everyone else, Parton was deeply affected by the events of last Sept. 11. Two new songs written out of her emotional response to the tragedy are "Hello God" and "Raven Dove." "People don't realize how much we need God until something really goes wrong," Parton says. "When everything went up in smoke, so to speak, everybody ran to God to try to find a way. I felt very inspired to write 'Hello God.' With 'Raven Dove,' I just woke up in the middle of the night, and that song just started to come."

Two of the most intriguing cuts on the album are covers. Parton revives Bread's classic "If," which she says "used to be one of our love songs, and it still is," referring to her husband of 36 years, Carl Dean. She also tackles Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," using a choir on the song. Parton says, "I'd always heard it like a gospel song. It always reminded me of somebody struggling to get to heaven but who was too weak and materialistic to do it." The artists kicks off a rare tour July 10 in New York.

'Candy' Land

CrowsCounting Crows frontman Adam Duritz says the songs on "Hard Candy" (Geffen/Interscope) were created with an ear toward brevity and perfection. "For whatever reason, I was really in love with writing gems, perfect songs, and getting the things I had to say [out] in less time," he offers. "Sometimes I feel like writing eight-minute songs. And on this album, I was really obsessed with great, perfect pieces."

On "Hard Candy," Duritz has penned songs of insomnia, drugs, debauchery, and the difficulties of life, love, and relationships. "Goodnight L.A." chronicles the singer's incessant sleeplessness ("Daylight is coming and no one is watching but me"). "1492" is a story of loss of identity set against the seedy underbelly of Milan ("Pull me up and out the door/Past railway cars and training whores"). On "Carriage," he writes about a former lover's miscarriage of what would have been his child.

Guitarist Dan Vickery says the ease with which the band was able to work with producer Steve Lillywhite seems to confirm that everything appears to be falling into place for the group. "It seems like we're slowly going like this," the guitarist says, clasping his hands. "It feels more of a band, more of a band comfortable in its skin and making the music we want to make, getting comfortable about it."

'Swan' Lake

WoofFollowing four studio albums and a live set on Mercury, ska punks the Mighty Mighty Bosstones are heading back to their independent label roots with "A Jackknife to a Swan," due this week via Los Angeles indie Side One Dummy Records.

"Having spent as many years as we have in the corporate system and fighting it from all directions, it's nice to be in a house where the owners understand who we are and let us call it home," Bosstones singer Dicky Barrett says. Prior to signing to Mercury to release 1993's "Don't Know How To Party," the Bosstones released two albums via the Boston-based indie Taang! label.

Produced by John Seymour (Sick Of It All), the 13-track "A Jackknife to a Swan" captures the group's signature sound. Among the tracks on the set are "Everybody's Better," "Seven Ways," "City," and "Go Big." The Bosstones are in the midst of their co-headlining stint on the Vans Warped Tour '02, which runs through Aug. 18 in Detroit.

Additional titles hitting stores this week include:

-- Rap outfit Onyx's "Bacdafucup: Part 2" (In the Paint/Koch).

-- Rising jam band the Slip's "Angels Come on Time" (Rykodisc).

-- A four-disc concert collection from the Grateful Dead, "Steppin' Out With the Grateful Dead -- England '72" (Grateful Dead Music/Arista).

-- A mix compilation from veteran U.K. electronica act Orbital, "Back to Mine" (DMC).

-- Country artist Andy Griggs' "Freedom" (RCA).

-- Singer/songwriter Abra Moore's "No Fear" (J).

-- Hard rock act Glassjaw's "Worship and Tribute" (Warner Bros.).

-- A new album from DJ Spooky, "Optometry," featuring guest spots from pianist Matthew Shipp and bassist William Parker (Thirsty Ear).

-- The debut solo album from Sebadoh principal Jason Loewenstein, "At Sixes and Sevens" (Sub Pop).

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