"It's done," the artist reveals to Billboard.com. "It's mastered and ready to go."

While an onslaught of new Paul Westerberg material is still a month away from release, the Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter is already looking ahead to his next "official" studio album, "Folker," due sometime in the first half of 2004. "It's done," the artist reveals to Billboard.com. "It's mastered and ready to go." And the former Replacements frontman says he plans to tour behind the forthcoming, folk-based record.

"It's good. I'm hesitant to say it's great, but it's... great," promises Westerberg. "'Folker' is, like, maybe one of my best. The ones coming out next month are good and entertaining, but I'm really excited about this one, even though I know it's a ways off." According to Westerberg, song titles will include "How Can You Like Him?," "What About Mine," "Thoroughbred" and "Bad for Me." One song from the set, "Lookin' Up in Heaven" has already surfaced on the Starbucks CD sampler "Hear Music #10."

"The first song is called 'Jingle' and my hope is to get it in the cheesiest, silliest commercial there is," Westerberg says. "It's one-minute-and-13 seconds long, and it would be the perfect way to get the record off the ground; in like a Gap ad or something. Once you hear it, you'll know exactly what I mean. It's my trump card."

"If I had to sum it up, it's kind of like 'First Glimmer' [from 1993's '14 Songs']," he continues. "Maybe a little faster or slower, but that's the general feel of the album. And then there's a few surprises, a couple of stompers. But it's got the classic stuff. You know, the songs of mine that people always like? I think I've got more than I need this time. I think it might be a fan favorite."

Although there are no specifics yet surrounding the release of "Folker," this autumn will still be a memorable one for Westerberg fans. On Oct. 21, the blues-inspired album "Dead Man Shake" will be issued through Fat Possum/Anti under the moniker Grandpaboy. The same day, Vagrant issues the soundtrack to Westerberg's first movie "Come Feel Me Tremble," boasting 14 new songs.

On Nov. 11, Redline Entertainment will release the film -- which premiered in July at San Francisco's Noise Pop Festival -- on DVD.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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