dizzyingly diverse and well-executed

Bridges to Bert: Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass (Whirled Beets Records)
Leftover Salmon

By Allen Howie

Okay, let's keep a really open mind for a minute or two. If you can get past the fishy name and the equally goofy album title and allow yourself an earful of the l3 songs on Leftover Salmon's new release, you'll be glad you did.

In fact, that subtitle — "Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass" -— really says it all. These boys have a great, anarchic sense of humor, but they never let it get in the way of the music. From traditional Irish and Yiddish times to their own originals, this sextet rivals NRBQ for eclectic taste and general fun-loving nature. The liner notes read like one long private joke ("Ask any Haitian and they'll tell you not all fish are good fish" is supposed to shed light on the origin of "Zombie Jamboree"), but the boys' chops are no laughing matter.

If there's any downside to this record, it's in the dizzying diversity. From zydeco to bluegrass to Southern rock to Cajun romp to a Grateful Dead/Steve Miller send-up, you barely have time to catch your breath before the band clambers off in a completely new direction. Fortunately, the music itself is so well-executed that it seems well worth hanging on through all the white-knuckle twists and turns.

If you truly consider yourself an adventurous music fan, or if you just want a record that will make your neighbors wonder, stock up on Leftover Salmon.