In the words of the immortal Sly Stone: “heard ya missed me, well I’m back!”. Of course, I wasn’t intending to take so much time off, but New York was just too much damn fun to spend my time writing. Anyway, the new release column is a day late, but the way I see things, there’s nothing worth running out to your local ‘wrecka sto’ for, anyway. Here’s a couple of highlights.

I must admit that I snickered when I found out that R&B group Dru Hill was getting a spot on a reality show (well, technically, the reality show is Keith Sweat’s, but they’re an integral part). However, as you know, a reality show is the first step toward a comeback, and on occasion, it can successfully be pulled off (see: Monica). So after an absence of eight years, Sisqo and the boys are back with “InDRUpendence Day”. As you can see, the foursome has yet to give up using bad puns for their name in their album titles. I’m on the fence about whether to buy this: I like Dru Hill’s albums (although like most R&B groups who can actually sing-they should never EVER go near uptempo material), but part of me feels as though they may have lost the magic. I mean, anyone heard the shite Boyz II Men has been giving us for the past decade or so?

(and now, of course I’m gonna post the video for the damn “Thong Song”.)

I don’t know much about Avenged Sevenfold, except that I scratched my head and asked “who are these guys?” when they won an MTV award several years ago. I also remember reading that they tragically lost a member last year, so I’ll refrain from being snarky. Their new album “Nightmare”, is produced by Mike Elizondo, who (quiet as kept) is one talented mofo. He went from Dr. Dre’s camp (where you do all the work and get none of the credit) to working with Fiona Apple and Jason Mraz. I’m not sure how Mike might mesh with Avenged Sevenfold, but the results might be kinda interesting!

An album of Tom Jones singing gospel might sound strange at first, but try to isolate that voice from the kitschy image, and you’ll realize that the former Mr. Woodward has pipes that would blow 95% of current gospel singers out of the water, even at 70 years old. “Praise & Blame” has been the subject of a probably bogus publicity “war” with Tom and the head of his label, but this may be one case where you forgive the promo BS and just enjoy the album. I’ll always have a soft spot for Tom, not only because he’s a bad ass and hung like an overgrown elephant (allegedly), but because he and Sidney Poitier are my gramma’s two pretend baby daddies.

Finally, someone still lets Fat Joe make records, despite rapping “talent” that’s middling at best. The two best things to happen to Joey Crack are Big Pun and Irv Gotti. Now that Pun is gone and Gotti’s career is over, what’s he gonna do? His new album, “The Dark Side” is out today, and although I’d imagine most people won’t care, consider this: it’s Fat Joe’s TENTH album. Somehow, people keep giving this dude money! I don’t get it either.

Get this week’s full list of new releases at Pause and Play.

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