When I saw Ben Folds in concert earlier this year, he noted that the album he’d been working on with British author Nick Hornby had been completed, and I was super intrigued. I’m a pretty major Folds fan, and “High Fidelity” has long been on the list of my favorite books and films (and I also picked up “Long Way Down” over the summer…it was a great read). The one song that Folds played from the collaboration that night was “Levi Johnston’s Blues”, a song I wish I could say wasn’t timely anymore-however, with Bristol Palin now dancing with the stars and Levi contemplating running for political office…yeah, it’s still timely. And despite it being typical recent-period Folds (i.e., containing completely gratuitous and unnececssary profanity), we couldn’t really blame it on Benny, since Hornby wrote the lyrics. Eh?? EHHHH??? Anyway, “Lonely Avenue” is out today. If you’re a Ben Folds fan, I’m sure you’re gonna at least like it. The guy hasn’t made a bad album yet.

Supa-producer Mark Ronson has been many things. Stepson of Foreigner’s Mick Jones. Brother of tacky lesbian DJ Sam Ronson (who hopefully got tetanus and rabies shots after making it with Lindsay Lohan), playmate (in the platonic way, of course) of Michael Jackson. Collaborator to Amy Winehouse. The Grammy-winner’s third album, “Record Collection”, introduces Mark Ronson: vocalist. This looks to be one of the fall’s most intriguing releases, boasting a guest lineup that stretches from zany Wu-rapper Ghostface Killah to zany former jailbird Boy George. This is definitely my sleeper pick of the week.

I can’t say no to the man who made “Sussudio” (or “Illegal Alien”), so it is my duty to inform you that Phil Collins is releasing his first studio album in almost a decade, entitled “Going Back”. It’s an album of Motown covers, recorded with several surviving members of the label’s legendary house band The Funk Brothers. Although this idea sort of appalls me in theory, I’m still gonna buy the album.

Seal’s been on a pretty serious losing streak lately-his dance-flavored album “System” kinda sucked, and his album of “Soul” covers was even more horrible. “Seal 6-Commitment” supposedly marks a return to the Seal of old (albeit minus Trevor Horn, who guided Seal through his most blerd-appreciated work). Here’s hoping he gets it right this time, because one more crappy album and I think I’m off Team Seal for good. Not that he cares. If I got to go home and have my way with Heidi Klum I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thought of me.

Also out tomorrow-the incarcerated Lil Wayne marks his return to hip-hop with “I Am Not a Human”, an effort that’s raising hackles by only being available digitally for the first two weeks of release (not that I would buy it anyway, but way to penalize the folks who still buy physical music, Weezy). Earnest rock outfit Jimmy Eat World is back with an album entitled “Invented”, while formerly incarcerated/recently freed reggae singer/homophobe Buju Banton has a new release in stores today (how timely!). Beach bum/new-millennium Kenny Chesney sees “Hemingway’s Whiskey” arrive in stores, while the comeback trail is filled this week with the Doobie Brothers (first album in ten years), OMD (first in fourteen years), and The Posies (who’ve been hardworking by comparison-it’s their first album in five years).

ALSO (and yes, there’s more), you have Eric Clapton’s imaginatively titled new album “Clapton”, the return of former R&B superstar Donell Jones with “Lyrics”, past-their-prime Nineties rockers the Gin Blossoms (God bless ‘em for sticking to it, though), and way-way-way past his prime rap legend Ice Cube. However, even geriatric O’Shea Jackson has got to be better than Gucci Mane, who inexplicably still has a record contract.

Y’all know the drill. Make sure you’re checking out Pause and Play for a full listing of new releases this week and for weeks ahead.

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