Not exactly the most exciting week for new releases (man, how much have I been saying THAT lately?), we begin this week’s column with a group that begs two questions: What happened to the R&B group? and Are there any acts left on Bad Boy Records? Shit, think back fifteen years, and the R&B scene was littered with groups: Boyz II Men, Jodeci, Shai, Silk, Intro, Hi-Five, Color Me Badd…now I can barely think of any besides Mint Condition (the only R&B band left on the scene). BIIM’s last release was a covers record,  New Edition pretty much now exists only as a touring group, and everyone else broke up, it seems. What the hell, man?

Similarly, remember when Bad Boy’s roster boasted The Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, Mase, 112 and a handful of others? Well, Biggie’s dead, Mase found Jesus (again), 112 split up, Faith switched labels, and the only acts left on Bad Boy appear to be Diddy himself, Cassie (who really doesn’t need to release another albums) and Day26. Although I’m not the biggest fan (actually, I’m not a fan at all), I at least give props to these cats for carrying the torch.

Here’s some other stuff hitting stores this week that you may find interesting.

Beck “One Foot in the Grave” (remastered w/bonus tracks)– Remember when Beck first came out, he had two record deals? His pop stuff was released through Geffen, while his more indie-flavored, uncommercial stuff was free to be released on other labels? Well, for those who don’t remember, “One Foot in the Grave” was the first of those lo-fi recordings after the success of “Mellow Gold” in ’94. Me? I’m not so much a fan of lo-fi Beck, but it’s nice to see his work getting the deluxe treatment.

Easy Star All Stars “Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band”-Following in the footsteps of “Dub Side of the Moon” and “Radiodread” (which tackled “OK Computer”), this album features a reggae makeover of the entire “Sgt. Pepper’s…” album. Not sure how appealing that sounds to you if you’re a Beatles fan, but the previous installments of this series have been quite listenable, actually. The album features everyone from Jamaican legends Steel Pulse to the hellbent-on-proving-he’s-not-a-one-hit-wonder Matisyahu. Remember him?

Fastball “Little White Lies”– Those of you who thought Fastball disappeared after scoring smash hits with “Out of My Head” and “The Way”, well, you’re wrong. The power-pop trio is back with their first album in five years. Although I don’t know much beyond the two singles, I have friends who swear these guys can do no wrong, and they certainly have a way with a hook. This one might be worth a listen.

Bernie WIlliams “Moving Forward”-Although my body is in Boston these days, my baseball heart will always be with the Yankees (that sound you just heard was me getting kicked in the head by 100 Red Sox fans). Retired Yank Bernie Williams has released albums of his instrumental guitar work before, and they’ve been surprisingly well-received-or at least well-received enough that I can’t think of a comparable athlete’s venture into music that was as successful. Anyway, Bernie pulled in the big guns for this release, as he got Bruce Springsteen to appear on this album. I always knew The Boss had good taste in baseball teams.

Get your complete list of this week’s new releases here.