Jack Johnson's new album, "To the Sea".

OK. I lie. If you’ve heard even one Jack Johnson record, you probably know him pretty well.

The mellow Hawaiian surfer dude has very quietly become probably the most popular male pop/rock singer in the country not named John Mayer. And he’s done it without dating any celebrities, making an ass of himself in print media, or even having a hit song at radio. He definitely has a certain appeal. A lot of folks-myself included-occasionally need to hear music that brings the blood pressure down. Jack’s songs are relaxing, and his voice is soothing without wandering into the occasionally depressing lyrical territory that’s the hallmark of some of my other favorite singer/songwriters (Gray, LaMontagne, Damien Rice). I doubt his new album, “To the Sea”, will offer much in the way of novelty, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pick it up. Sometimes knowing exactly what to expect is a good thing.

Jack’s got the only really major release out today. However, there are a couple more albums making their way into stores that qualify as newsworthy. Indie band Sleigh Bells have parlayed a glowing Pitchfork review into some huge buzz, and their debut album “Treats” makes its physical debut today. There’s also “Tried & True”, the new album from Clay Aiken, which I would imagine is chock full of either standards and/or covers in true Aiken style. The legendary Sergio Mendes follows up his Black Eyed Peas-assisted “Timeless” album (which, as much as I hate BEP, had it’s moments) with the self-produced “Bom Tempo”, and there’s also new albums by Paul Weller, Molly Hatchet, Hawthorne Heights and pop/R&B newcomer Taio Cruz.

On the reissue tip, it’s worth noting that the first-ever greatest hits collection by the Dixie Chicks comes out today as part of Sony Music’s “Playlist” series. Other volumes in this series out today include artists like Corrosion of Conformity, R. Kelly, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Bruce Hornsby & Bow Wow.

Get your full list of this week’s releases (as well as all major upcoming releases) from my buddies at Pause and Play. Now, back to work!!

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