So, yeah. Michael Jackson’s the big news this week. However, there are a few other noteworthy albums making their way to storefronts (both physical and digital) this week. Here are a couple of highlights.

Jack Johnson “En Concert”-
I really dig Jack Johnson’s music. It’s soothing and relaxing. It’s like Bob Marley without the politics, you know? Perfect for imagining yourself chilling in a hammock on a white sandy beach. With that said, I’d imagine Jack Johnson in concert would be a total snooze. The way I see things, concerts should be lively and spirited. Jack is…well, he’s the opposite of lively and spirited-unless you’re really stoned. Which I imagine a lot of his fans are. Anyway, if you’re a hardcore Jack-phile, you can add to your collection with this live album.

Train “Save Me San Francisco”-
Nearly a decade removed from their Grammy winning smash “Drops of Jupiter”, the band Train is back with a new album. In between the release of their last album and this one, the band’s lead singer Pat Monahan released an album that went nowhere fast, so I guess it could be said that the return to the band is a way of going back to a sure thing. Their material’s always been scattershot to me, but Monahan does have a purty voice.

The Swell Season “Strict Joy”-
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are still relatively anonymous here in the States. The Irish singers had a small cult following on these shores until they collaborated on a little movie called “Once”. “Once” became an indie hit, the soundtrack sold 3/4 of a million copies, and their “Falling Slowly” wound up winning an Oscar for Best Original Song. Some time after the Oscar win, Hansard and Irglova, who were a couple in real life, split up. But the band remains, and “Strict Joy” is yet another album of passionately sung ballads in their signature pop/folk-y style.

Brian McKnight “Evolution of a Man”-
A decade or so ago, McKnight was a superstar, with hits like “Anytime” and “Back at One”. His star has cooled considerably since that time, and he’s also been the unfortunate victim of some label bouncing around. His 11th album boasts collaborations with Jill Scott and Stevie Wonder, and apparently also includes a commercial for his upcoming talk show. Hey, you gotta advertise anyway you can, right?

Rod Stewart “Soulbook”-
“Soulbook” is Rod Stewart’s FIFTH consecutive covers album. He made his big comeback with the three “Great American Songbook” albums, then had a hit with the rock classics of the Seventies, and now he’s attacking some of the biggest soul hits of all time. While I admit that it would be hilarious to hear Rod cover some contemporary R&B, he sticks to the classics on this release, covering well-worn hits like “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and “The Tracks of My Tears”…in other words, songs that have already been beaten down into the ground. I think Rod needs to lay off the schmaltz and make a non-covers album again. While I’m sure most of his fans would welcome a return to “Every Picture Tells a Story” form, I’ll even take “Love Touch” form over this crapola. Stevie Wonder’s on this one, too. What can I say? The man gets around…although it seems that lately he’s been trading his harmonica solos for barbecue.

There’s plenty more where that came from! Get your full list of this week’s releases here.

Grrr…the video for “Love Touch” isn’t available on youTube or Yahoo!…but that doesn’t stop me!! Watch the record spin!!