The closer we get to Thanksgiving, the bigger the releases get. There’s a whole shitload of new albums coming out today. Here are the highlights.

John Mayer-“Battle Studies”: “Continuum” was the album that made even people who don’t like John Mayer like John Mayer. Think what you want about the guy personally (and he does come off as an insufferable douche on occasion), the guy has not made a bad album yet. That said, I’m approaching “Battle Studies” with trepidation. First single “Who Says” was just OK, and my man GG tells me that the album is super-slow. I read another review that suggests that JM has gone back to his cheezy “Wonderland” subject material. At any rate, this is the album I’m most looking forward to this week. We’ll see if I wind up disappointed.

Them Crooked Vultures-“Them Crooked Vultures”: All hail the latest rock ‘n roll supergroup! This band features Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme, legendary Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and Nirvana/Foo Fighters/Probot/Queens of the Stone Age drummer Dave Grohl. I swear, Grohl has more jobs than a Jamaican. Early reports are suggesting this might be one of the best rock albums of the year. Although I like QOTSA, Foo Fighters and Led Zep individually, is there something wrong with me because I’m not especially excited about this one?

Norah Jones “The Fall”: This is allegedly the album on which Norah Snorah puts the piano down and picks up her gee-tar. This album was on my to-buy list as recently as last night. But then I thought some, and I realized that I haven’t gone back to any Norah albums for repeated listens since the first one. I love Norah…her interviews and side projects suggest much less of a stuffshirt than her albums do. I’m just not sure I need another album of hers.

50 Cent “Before I Self Destruct”: So…50’s new album was released on iTunes last week, but those sales are being held over to be included with the physical sales from this week to create the first week number. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened (sales for Michael Jackson’s “Bad” weren’t tabulated after the album’s first week either), but it DOES suggest that the notoriously confident Fiddy is feeling some heat. I can’t imagine his new album (which is buzz-free and has been delayed for the better part of the year) outselling John Mayer even with two weeks of sales. Given my complete dislike of anything Curtis Jackson-related, I’ll be staying far, far away from this one.

Rakim “The Seventh Seal”: The long-awaited new album from the Greatest Rapper Alive (fuck Lil Wayne and anyone else who dares to put themselves in this spot) has been ten years in the making. While I’m sure Ra’s rhyme skills have eroded with time, the man at half speed is still better than 95% of the emcees out there. The big variable here is going to be the production. Rakim hasn’t always had the best ear for picking out beats, and if lyrics were all that mattered in hip-hop, I’d probably enjoy listening to a lot more Canibus records. Anyway, I’m sure hip-hop junkies in my age group are jizzing in their pants over this one.

But wait, there’s more!!

British pop star Leona Lewis follows up her #1 hit “Bleeding Love” (and being snuffed in the face at an autograph signing) with her sophomore release “Echo”/ “Idol” winner Kris Allen gets ready to set the record for worst-selling debut album by an “American Idol” winner with his self-titled effort/ Janet Jackson takes a break from blaming Dr. Conrad Murray for her brother’s death with a new “Number Ones” collection (I’m a little disgusted that JJ only decides to talk about her brother’s death when she has a new album to promote)/ Katy Perry assumes people give a fuck about her as a live performer with a new “MTV Unplugged” set/ Paul McCartney releases his 9832405th live album/ Boyz II Men release their third consecutive album of covers with “Love”, this time strolling directly into the adult contemporary market with versions of hits by Journey and Bonnie Raitt/ teenage Usher discovery Justin Bieber releases his debut album today/ UK megastar Robbie Williams returns to American shores for the first time in half a decade/ R&B group Pretty Ricky replaces it’s lead singer Pleasure P. and forge on with a new album, and finally, future one-hit wonder OneRepublic returns with the follow up to their debut album, which produced the hit Timbaland-assisted single “Apologize”.

(catches breath)

Now is that a lot of stuff or what?