Happy mid-November, ladies and gentlemen. It’s shortly before Thanksgiving, record labels are getting their ducks in a row for the holiday shopping season, and the big guns continue to fire persistently…lots of big releases this week. Let’s get started with some of the highlights.

The judges from “The Voice” have had a pretty busy couple of months. While Adam Levine released an album (should we even mention the rest of Maroon 5?) over the summer, his judging cohorts have all gone 4th quarter on that ass. ┬áBlake Shelton and Cee-Lo Green have both released recent holiday efforts, and arriving last in true diva fashion-Christina Aguilera. Lotus is the singer’s latest effort, and it finds Xtina hedging her bets slightly after her last album, Bionic, was met with commercial and critical indifference. Case in point: songwriter-du-jour Max Martin helmed the set’s first single, “Your Body.” Also-fellow judges Shelton and Green both make appearances. The fact that “Body” has met with a collective “meh” doesn’t exactly bode well for Lotus’s commercial prospects, but hey…anything can happen, right?

If your tastes run a little more in a rock direction, then you’re in luck, sir or madam! A cornucopia of guitar-playin’ heavy hitters arrive in stores today. First up-Soundgarden. The pioneering grunge-era favorites are back with King Animal, their first new album in a decade and a half. Of course, lead singer Chris Cornell has been plenty busy in the time between, maintaning a solo career as well as fronting supergroup Audioslave. Meanwhile, two bands that have been bringing the goods since the ’90s without any pauses-Green Day and Deftones-return with new efforts. Green Day’s Dos is the second in a trilogy of albums that began with Uno back in September, while Chino Moreno and company return with Koi No Yokan. No, I don’t know what that means. Look for Discography Installments on Soundgarden (and its’ offshoots) and Deftones very soon!

These guys rock a little too hard for you? Come the holiday season, there’s always gonna be some SuBo, so consider your fears allayed. Grandma and grandpa will likely go gaga over Susan Boyle‘s latest album, Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs From The Stage. At least she won’t be massacring songs from Crowded House and Depeche Mode in this installment, right?

SuBo too old? Well, little sister (and quite a few little brothers) will have their eyes on the follow-up to boy group OneDirection‘s smash debut. Take Me Home is their second album release in the space of a year, proof that no matter how things change, boy groups having split-second shelf lives (and record companies cramming as much product as possible into that shelf life) will never change.

I can’t think of anything smart-ass to say about The Weeknd, except that it’s about time dude released an actual CD so that those of us who like him but have no emotional attachment to computer files can appreciate him. The mixtape darling’s first official release is called Trilogy, and it features songs from those previous mixtapes as well as new joints like the hit single “Wicked Games.” Sadly, it is not a pluralized cover of the Chris Isaak classic. The Weeknd would probably do a really good job with that.

Lightning round! Also out today: albums by Trent Reznor’s How to Destroy Angels (EP,) blink-182 drummer Travis Barker in association with “new Eminem” Yelawolf (also an EP,) Michelle Obama-approved soul singer Anthony David, Staind lead singer turned country favorite Aaron Lewis, hip-hop legend Buckshot in association with production hotshot 9th Wonder, and…a new “Twilight” soundtrack, which includes music from Passion Pit, Feist, and Ellie Goulding.

On the reissue tip: vinyl expansions of The Beatles‘ entire catalog (including a tres expensive set featuring all 16 titles,) a 2-CD version of Marvin Gaye‘s Trouble Man soundtrack, an Amy Winehouse live album, the latest of the 6 million Rolling Stones compilation-plus 1 or 2 shitty new songs albums that comes out once every 5 years or so, an expanded Lana Del Ray CD (because everyone asked for that,) and a posthumous Whitney Houston collection-the first Whitney compilation to contain the original versions of her biggest hits (like “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”)

Finally-our WTFF release of the week is a new Christmas album by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. No, they are not singing in character as Sandy and Danny from “Grease,” nor are they singing in character as whoever the hell they played in 1983’s “Two of a Kind.” No word on whether the album comes with a free handie from your local massage parlor, either.

So yeah…Pause and Play…go to it. Yeah!!


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