Welcome to the final release week of summer 2008. Oh, what a summer it was, too. There was Li’l Wayne and Coldplay and Metallica and…ahh, the memories. Lots coming out this week. Let’s get crackin’:

The cover of Nelly's new CD, "Brass Knuckles".

Nelly: “Brass Knuckles”:

Remember, like, five years ago when Nelly was the hottest shit since sliced bread? Boy, how times have changed. The “Hot in Herre” guy’s label has burned four singles trying to get something on the long-delayed “Brass Knuckles” to catch fire. Hasn’t happened, even with he and Ashanti getting it on like a D-class Jay-Z and Beyonce on their new song “Body On Me”. As would be expected, there is an extremely long list of guest artists on this album: LL Cool J, Chuck D. (!??!??!), T.I., Rick Ross and Fergie are just a few of the artists who make cameos here. Will Nelly be the next artist to appear in a “Catch a Falling Star” column?

Seriously, Chuck D? Really?!!??!

Buckcherry “Black Butterfly”:

A year and a half ago, I bet you never thought you’d hear of Buckcherry again other than on one of those “Where Are They Now?” shows, right? WRONG. Josh Todd and his band of hard rockin’ bros scored one of 2007’s most unlikely successes with hit singles like “Crazy Bitch” and “Sorry” and a Platinum album. Now a mainstay on Motley Crue’s Cruefest tour (sorry, I don’t know how to do umlauts here), their new album “Black Butterfly” could very well challenge for the #1 spot.

Ne-Yo “Year of the Gentleman”:

Three albums in three years, huh, Ne-Yo? Following a hit album, a Grammy win and a run at the top of the charts as a songwriter (Rihanna’s “Take a Bow”), Ne-Yo’s back with “Year of the Gentlemen”. First single “Closer” took a second to catch on due to its’ dance-identified musical backing, but has turned into a Top 10 hit. Meanwhile, second single “Miss Independent” is flying up the charts. Ne-Yo is a fine singer and a wonderful songwriter, but neither of his albums has really been worthy of high praise. Let’s see if he lives up to his potential on this album.

Darius Rucker “Learn to Live”:

After a dalliance with R&B on his last (very good) solo album, the man you know and love as Hootie heads in a country direction. This has already resulted in the hit “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It”, which is the first Top 10 country single by a black artist in twenty years. Pretty impressive, Hootie. I don’t know if I want to hear Darius doin’ the old honky-tonk, but he seems like a nice enough guy, so I wish him much renewed success. Then again, a lot of Hootie’s stuff wasn’t especially far from country anyway.

Raphael Saadiq “The Way I See It”:

The former Tony Toni Tone frontman is also one of the most underrated singer/songwriter/producers in recent pop history, having worked with everyone from A Tribe Called Quest and The Roots to Joss Stone and The Bee Gees. Raphael’s third solo album boasts a retro-Motown sound and has gotten some quite complimentary advance notice. I’ll be checking this out although I do wish he’d get the Tonyies back together. Someone has to bring the R&B band back.

…but wait, there’s more!!

Blue-eyed soul vocalist Marc Broussard (a longtime favorite of mine) is releasing “Keep Coming Back”, his first album of all-new material in four very long years. Lindsey Buckingham is back on the solo trail with “Gift of Screws”, which features a couple of guest artists who are quite familiar with Lindsey and his work-Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. Hip-hop mook DJ Khaled is out with the compilation album “We Global”,which features the usual suspects (although I don’t see Lil Wayne among the list of guests…well fuck me!!)…

…Brit faves James (remember “Laid”? I hope you do, ’cause it’s the only song of theirs I know!) are back for the first time in seven years with “Hey Ma”, while etheral Welsh songstress Jem returns after a four year absence with “Down to Earth”. Former Ryan Adams flame (and former stepdaughter of Diana Ross) Leona Naess brings her wildly eclectic sound to the jazz label Verve with her new album “Thirteen”…

…What, that’s not enough? Hard rockers Taproot are back with “Our Long Road Home”, and Ben Taylor (son of James and Carly and a dead ringer vocally for his dad) scores the best album title of the week award for “The Legend of Kung Folk, Vol. 1”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have his hilarious cover of Snoop’s “Sexual Seduction” on it. Meanwhile, on the reissue front, the only things worth mentioning are hits compilations from smooth jazz sax master Dave Koz and gangsta rap legend Ice Cube.

Oh shit, I almost forgot!! Wayne Brady’s album comes out today!!

…and now you’re broke. Happy shopping!!

…oh, and get a complete list of new releases here.

…I like ellipses, don’t you?