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Previewing new albums from Brad Paisley, Air, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Goo Goo Dolls, and more.

'II' Times A Charm

Brad PaisleyBrad Paisley seems to have been everywhere in the past two years. The 28-year-old West Virginia native has become the country industry's most acclaimed new artist, winning scores of awards, joining the Grand Ole Opry, and watching his 1999 Arista debut "Who Needs Pictures" go platinum.

Paisley returns this week with "Part II," featuring first single "Two People Fell In Love," which is No. 13 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart this week. The artist co-wrote 10 of the album's 13 cuts, many with frequent collaborators, including Chris DuBois and Kelley Lovelace, and the album's producer, Frank Rogers. He says one of the most gratifying things about the success of his debut is it taught him "that all those people I had a hunch about, like Frank and my band, could easily step up to the plate and accomplish what we hoped to accomplish."

Other highlights include the title track, "I'm Gonna Miss Her," and "Too Country," a Bill Anderson/Chuck Cannon tune that features vocals by Buck Owens, George Jones, and Anderson. Paisley will be on tour in North America through September.

'Legends' In Their Own Time

AirAir's Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel aren't delusional. They realize the unexpectedly dark landscape of "10,000 Hz. Legend," due this week on Astralwerks, will take some fans by surprise. Indeed, "10,000 Hz. Legend" is the antithesis of the duo's three-year-old U.S. debut, the buoyant "Moon Safari," which was steeped in lighthearted melodies, romantic rhythms, and kitschy orchestral references to '70s porn soundtracks and French pop.

"It's like a Pink Floyd record but with humor," Godin says of the set. "It's definitely like a drug trip, which scares me and Jean because we're not drug addicts. In that sense, it's somewhat embarrassing and ironic. Still, it is a little druggy."

The album includes guest spots from Beck, two members of Buffalo Daughter, and Redd Kross drummer Brian Reitzell, an alumnus of the "Moon Safari" tour. A North American trek begins June 14 in Dallas.

The Right 'Time'

Mary Chapin CarpenterWith a title like "Time*Sex*Love," it's not hard to figure out that Mary Chapin Carpenter's first new Columbia studio album in almost five years is packed with the kind of lyrically deep, personal songs for which she has come to be known.

The album title became the subject of much debate during the recording sessions last fall at London's Air Studios. "We all would sit around for hours and philosophize about this," Carpenter says. "If you came out on one position -- [such as] time is the great mystery, or love is the great equalizer -- you had to defend it. My position is what I ended up with as the title."

First single "Simple Life" is No. 56 on Hot Country Singles & Tracks. A North American tour begins June 23 in Telluride, Colo.

'Learn'ing Curve

Goo Goo DollsLooking back on the past can be easier than looking ahead to the future, according to the Goo Goo Dolls' lead singer/songwriter, Johnny Rzeznik. So, to whet people's appetite for the band's next studio album, the Goo Goo Dolls have gone through their back pages to offer "What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce (1987-2000)" -- a Warner Bros. collection of the trio's favorite previously recorded songs that weren't hit singles.

Rzeznik says that choosing the album's songs was easy for the band, which also includes bassist Robby Takac and drummer Mike Malinin. "We just picked out the songs we liked the best," Rzeznik notes. "It was fun to look back on how we were. We laughed a lot just listening to some of the old studio tapes and remembering some of the outtakes. We were just kids when we started."

The 22-track set includes newly remastered versions of such favorites as "Bulletproof," "Burnin' Up," and "Iris." Rzeznik says the band will begin work on its next album around mid-summer.

Chillin' Out

Everything But The GirlWith 20 years' experience creating the kind of music that can chill a person to the point of inertia, Everything But The Girl's Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn were obvious choices to assemble the sixth volume in the "Back To Mine" mood music compilation series. The album, out since last month internationally, is due this week on Ultra.

As it turns out, Watt was a supporter of the "Back To Mine" series before he and Thorn were asked to lend a hand. "I especially liked the Groove Armada set," he says. "I bought that one solely as a fan." The hour-long, mood-enhancing mix, which encompasses a variety of musical styles, includes the Ananda Project's "Cascades of Colour," Slick Rick's "All Alone (No One To Be With)," DJ Cam's "Friends and Enemies," Beth Orton's "Stars All Seem to Weep," and Model 500's "The Flow." The set closes with the teary-eyed, hopeful sentiments of Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free."

Other titles hitting stores this week include reissues of three albums from seminal German experimental rock duo Neu!, "1," "2," and "Neu! '75" (Astralwerks); DVD Audio editions of Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" and George Benson's "Breezin'" (Warner Bros.); expanded reissues of four Judas Priest albums, "British Steel," "Defenders of the Faith," "Point of Entry," and "Screaming for Vengeance" (Columbia/Legacy); and reissues of eight Kenny Rogers titles, "Classics," "Daytime Friends," "Every Time Two Fools Collide," "Kenny," "Kenny Rogers," "Love Lifted Me," "Love or Something Like It," and "The Gambler" (Dreamcatcher).

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