Sept. 29Primus, “Desaturating Seven”When I saw the album cover accompanying “Desaturating Seven,” I was thrown for a loop. The album follows the story of “The Rainbow Goblins,” a children’s story that was a huge part of my growth, centered on seven goblins who steal and devour all the colors of the rainbow for their own. If that story wasn’t tailor-made for a Primus album, I don’t know what was. This record feels a lot more cohesive than the Willy Wonka-inspired previous effort, with the songs following the bizarre storyline, Les Claypool’s bass always driving forward in its strange spiral. The album opener, “The Valley,” is one of my favorite Primus tracks in a long time, a strange and sparse meandering of rising action, starting with an actual reading from the story leading into strange vocal delivery from the masters of weird.
Propagandhi, “Victory Lap”After five years aslumber, Propagandhi has returned when punk rock is vital again. The imagery of the cover accentuates the storyline of the record in the best way, a roller-coaster under water off a coast. Growing older has done nothing but benefit the dudes in Propagandhi, and the new blood coming from Sulynn Hago and her ripping guitar adds a breath of vitality as well. They eschew expected lyrical themes and anger, in lieu of thoughts about parenthood and growth in uncertain times. It actually hit me harder than I expected. I am ready for anger on a punk rock album, but I am not always ready for actual, valuable insight.
Kamasi Washington, “Harmony of Difference”With his debut in 2015’s “The Epic,” Kamasi Washington made a massive splash in the contemporary jazz scene as only something titled “The Epic” could. “Harmony of Difference” is as lofty of a followup as you can imagine, centering on the musical idea of counterpoint, where pieces are linked harmonically but not rhythmically or structurally. The EP is five unique compositions culminating in a sixth piece that is a massive combination of the previous five. It is an absolutely demanding listen but ultimately just as rewarding as “The Epic” was. People tend to brush off jazz as boring or lacking movement, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. As evidence, listen to “Truth” from “Harmony of Difference” and experience all the different moods therein.
Zola Jesus, “Okovi”I discovered Zola Jesus just a few years ago with the release of the first John Carpenter album, “Lost Themes.” My favorite track on that was a remix of the song “Night” featuring Zola Jesus on vocals. The haunting ethereality of the remix grabbed me immediately, and with her new album “Okovi,” I was excited to see that carry over into her own studio work. The record gnaws on the marrow at the root of a lot of goth-focused music, a depression that can take hold at any moment. Her music calls to mind the tragic deaths of figures in literature like Ophelia, or the Romantic trepidation of “Faust.” The record varies in tempo, from moody dirges to bumping goth club beats, all with a gorgeous vocal delivery at the center.