Can you believe it’s the end of August already?

When it comes to album releases, this is kind of the calm before the storm. September brings forth a deluge of new albums, so much so that you wonder why some of these records weren’t put out in August (or held to October.) Have we had this conversation before? I’m sure we have.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. One release we’ve been touting for months is the new one from Maximo Park. We previewed their song “Hips & Lips”, reviewed the UK release earlier in the year, and even interviewed them! Now that we’ve finally got The National Health in our grubby little mitts, the circle has been completed. Welcome back Maximo Park!

Two other artists we’re welcoming back were key in the emergence of rocking female singer/songwriters in the ‘90s: Juliana Hatfield and Alanis Morissette. The latter artist experienced success on a much more grand scale, but it could be said that Hatfield’s success (in addition to the success of similar artists like Liz Phair) pushed open the door that Alanis kicked through. Anyway, Juliana Hatfield’s self-titled effort is a collection of covers, while Alanis, long removed from her angry-girl “Fuck you Coulier” days, has embraced a more pop-centric sound over the years. Her new album Havoc & Bright Lights continues that transition.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard a Dierks Bentley song (at least I haven’t consciously listened to one—as opposed to hearing one on the radio or on TV and not realizing who I was listening to) but he’s a pretty big cheese in the country world. And why not? Much like-well, just about every other male country artist out there, he’s got that rugged, macho thing happening that appeals equally to male and female fans. I’d imagine he’ll be making the biggest splash on the charts this week with his new EP Country & Cold Cans, even if it’s only being released digitally.

Dierks may face a challenge from hip-hop supergroup Slaughterhouse. A collection of hip-hop “almost were”s, the group features Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden and Royce da 5’9. Signed to Eminem’s Shady Records, their long-awaited debut Welcome To: Our House features Slim Shady (as expected) plus cameos from Busta Rhymes & Cee-Lo Green. Fans of these guys might also want to check out Beanie Sigel’s new album This Time, which is being released just as the Philly rapper is headed up north for a tax evasion bid. I wonder if he’s blaming former benefactor Jay-Z for this one. Eh, he probably is.

On the R&B tip, Dwele is best known for providing the hook on Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights,” but the Detroit musician has built up a strong catalog both before and after that cameo. His new album, Greater Than One, continues in his well-established lane of smooth neo-soul. However, there are not many R&B singers out there as smooth as Tamia. The last important Quincy Jones discovery, the Grammy-nominated songstress (and wife of NBA star Grant Hill) is putting out Beautiful Surprise today.

This week marks the 54th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s birth, and Hip-O Select is celebrating the life of the King of Pop with Come & Get It: Rare Pearls, a 3-disc set of previously unreleased J5 tracks. The brothers recorded a ton of songs for Motown, and I’m sure there’s even more where this came from. It’s not released physically until September 18th (the same day Bad 25 drops) but those of you who have “gone digital,” as they say, can grab the mp3 version a couple weeks early.

Finally, herald the return of our WTF? Release of the Week. This go-round, it comes from Los Del Rio. ‘Memba them? How could you not, as “Macarena” was as ubiquitous as ubiquitous gets. They’re still around in some form or fashion (I could’ve sworn one of them passed away, but I’m too lazy to waste time researching Los Del fuckin’ Rio.) Vamonos Que Nos Vamos (translation of which I was also too lazy to research) features, you guessed it, “Macarena 2012.” Like we needed another one.

Anyway, make sure you check out Pause & Play, because, believe it or not, there’s a handful of releases I missed. Enjoy!

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