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With a very short list this week, we will see you all again on January 8, 2008. And to all a good night.

New Album Releases 12/18/07: Closing Out The Year With Mary J. Blige, Rivers Cuomo, Johnny Depp Sings

Before we get to this week’s new releases, a few quick housekeeping items are in order.

This will be the final new release column of 2007. Since both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on a Tuesday this year — which is typically new release day for the labels — and since I have it on pretty good authority that the music business shuts down for the year by around the middle of December anyway, there is simply going to be little if anything to cover here until next year.

Besides, even your favorite Rockologist needs a little family time during the holidays.

But rest assured, the weekly New Release column will be back up and running come Tuesday, January 8, 2008. Hopefully, and with any luck, there will even be some actual new releases to talk about. I do know that for starters, the physical release of Radiohead’s In Rainbows should be in stores by then.

That said, what we have this week is a very, very short list.

Whether or not you are one of those who swear that Mary J. Blige is the closest thing today’s generation has to Aretha Franklin herself — and there are millions of her fans who will tell you exactly that — there’s no denying that the so-called “Queen of hip-hop soul” has matured into a first rate vocalist, and one who is no longer limited by that label. On her eighth album, Growing Pains, she continues the transformation from hip-hop to pop that began with The Breakthrough. And yes, she is again sporting a new “do.”

On Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo, the guy who practically invented “nerd-wave” rock with the great nineties power-pop band Weezer unearths a long rumored collection of solo recordings dating from his pre-Weezer days right up until the present. Highlights here are said to include songs from a never released second Weezer album, Songs from the Black Hole. Count on Cuomo’s songwriting smarts and impeccable sense for a great pop hook being on full display here.

For the soundtrack to the new Tim Burton/Johnny Depp vehicle, Sweeney Todd, there are actually two versions in stores this week. You can get either the complete soundtrack, or a Selected Highlights version featuring — among other things — Depp singing songs from the musical. We’ve heard Depp’s performance in the movie is pretty scary at times, but the jury is still out on his singing.

Other highlights from this week’s short list include The Fight of My Life, from new gospel jack’s Kirk Franklin; new hip-hop from Lupe Fiasco, Jaheim, and Chingy; third generation Americana from Hank Williams III; and that Bram Tchaikovsky reissue from the seventies that got my fellow Blogcritic Mark Saleski so excited earlier this week.

So until we return on January 8, here are this week’s new album releases courtesy of All Music Guide.

And to all, a good night…

Mary J. Blige
Growing Pains
Geffen
Contemporary R&B, Urban, Adult Contemporary

Rivers Cuomo
Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo
Geffen
Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock

Lupe Fiasco
The Cool
Atlantic
Midwest Rap, Alternative Rap, Hip-Hop

Jaheim
The Makings of a Man
Atlantic
Contemporary R&B, Neo-Soul, Urban

Jie Chen
Chinese Piano Favorites
Naxos
Chinese Piano Music

Chingy
Hate It or Love It
DTP Recordings
Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap

Johnny Depp
Sweeney Todd [The Motion Picture Soundtrack] [Highlights]
Nonesuch
Music for Film

Kirk Franklin
The Fight of My Life
Gospocentric
Black Gospel, Contemporary Gospel, Urban

Orbital
Live at Glastonbury
A.C.P.
Techno, IDM, Electronica, Ambient Techno

Scott Slapin
Reflection: Violacentric Music of Scott Slapin
Eroica
Contemporary Chamber Music

Original Score
Charlie Wilson’s War
Varese Sarabande
Original Score, Soundtracks

Original Sountrack
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street [2007 Soundtrack]
Nonesuch
Soundtracks, Musicals

Chris Rock
Cheese and Crackers: The Greatest Bits
Geffen
Standup Comedy, Sketch Comedy

Bram Tchaikovsky
Strange Man, Changed Man
Hip-O Select/Polydor
Power Pop, New Wave, Rock & Roll

Various Artists
10 Years of Bling, Vol. 1
Cash Money
Hardcore Rap

Various Artists
Def Jam Sessions, Vol. 1
Def Jam
East Coast Rap, Urban, Hardcore Rap

Various Artists
The Sibelius Edition, Vol. 3: Voice & Orchestra
Bis
Modern Music for Voice & Orchestra

Hank Williams III
Damn Right, Rebel Proud
Sidewalk
Americana, New Traditionalist, Outlaw Country

About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.

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