A solid week of new releases overall, even as we're getting toward the end of the year.
Chumped - Teenage Retirement: It's hard to say which release this week is my favorite, but the extremely pleasant surprise that is Chumped's first full-length album is certainly a contender. If you liked the Field Mouse album but thought it should have been poppier or heavier, this is absolutely something you should give a listen to, as it's equal parts The Reputation/Sarge/Velocity Girl and some of the more indie pop punk that's been hitting the new releases as of late. An absolutely excellent album that should take some room in your playlists this week.
Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons - Take Yo Time: The other contender for album release of the week is this one by Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons. I only knew of this through Ken, and it's a great bluegrassy collaboration, both stark and musically solid. One of my favorite albums of the last few years was the collaboration between Chris Thile and Michael Dawves, and this has some similarity to it in terms of tone and musicality. It's definitely worth your time this week.
TV on the Radio - Seeds: While everyone likes TV on the Radio's song "Wolf Like Me," I confess to not being moved much by the band on a whole. This is the band's first album since the passing of their bassist, and I'll at least say that the music here is really solid from start to finish, with songs like "Ride" staying stuck in my head very quickly. If you've missed the band, or felt as if you've missed the boat on them, this might be a good (re)entry point.
Brooke Fraser - Brutal Romantic: Have we reached peak Down Under? New Zealand's Fraser's fifth album gets a release in the United States, and it's some solid left-of-center singer-songwriter music with a lot of interesting songs and choices throughout. In a year where we have a lot of really solid music like this coming out, this (at least domestically) has the possibility of being lost in the shuffle and it probably shouldn't be as a pretty solid album. Give this a listen.
Manchester Orchestra - Hope: Hope is billed as a "reimagining" of Manchester Orchestra's great album from earlier this year, Cope. This is a quieter, more acoustic affair that redoes the songs from the prior album into almost a new genre. Probably really only appealing to hardcore fans of the band, this is less a great album and more an interesting curiosity that does succeed more often than it fails. I just personally know that I enjoy Manchester Orchestra loud. It's really similar to when the Foo Fighters go acoustic, if it's a good analogy.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One Soundtrack: Curated by Lorde, we've officially hit peak "Young Adult Movie Soundtrack." Some of this is good, some of this not so much, but Lorde's involvement with some of the artists featured will make this popular regardless of what anyone thinks.
Punk Goes Pop Volume 6: See above: some of this is good ("Wrecking Ball" is fun, "Royals" interesting), some of it really isn't. Like any of these compilations, you'll find a gem or two but that's about it.