Driving home from work lately has been hard. It'll barely be past 5 pm and the darkness is already creeping in, the wintertime sadsies along with it. I love and hate this time of year. My sweaters are comfy, my seasonal affective disorder not as much. I think we're all feeling that last gasp and attempting to cram as much goodness into our lives before we're snowbound and heater-dependent. Thank goodness, then, for music.

To wit, local metal act Cripple just released an EP, and it is stunning. Former members of bands like YAR and Ol' Dagger (and at least one current member of local metal mainstay Savage Wizdom) came together on this one for a thrashy metal sound that is familiar for those of us who've followed these guys, yet tighter than ever. Maybe this is thanks to production from The Decibel Foundry's Augustine Ortiz (seriously, this is about the best album I've heard him preside over) or just that the dudes in the band have really coalesced in stellar ways—most notably in the utterly jaw-dropping barrage of riffs, Fuck Your Comfort has become a regular in my rotation and it's only been out about a week.

Jazz band OrnEtc. has a new record out, too, and while the thought of jazz usually makes my eyeballs roll so hard that it sounds like the crack of a bullwhip in some cavernous abandoned warehouse, I've gotta hand it to these weirdos—These Times is pretty damn good. Smooth, even—particularly on tracks like "Unfortunate Homes," wherein the drums are so all over the place (in a good way) it's insane, or in the 10-minute opus "Twisted," a Mancini-meets-Coleman-like number that I wouldn't be surprised to hear on the soundtrack from a movie about a super-sexy heist. Now, maybe it's because members Chris Jonas (sax-a-ma-phone), Dave Wayne (drums) and Noah Baumeister (bass) are all fantastic musicians who've wowed me with other projects like Things That Are Heard and Man Hurls Hedgehog, or maybe I'm just getting old and that comes with some sort of liking jazz default position. I'm scared, but you can see them for yourself at the album release this
Saturday night at Skylight (7 pm Saturday Nov. 4. Free. 139 W San Francisco St., 982-0775).

Hip-hop newcomer K.Dutch (who I thought of because he's also in an Afrobeat band called Shake Alert with OrnEtc.'s Dave Wayne) finally releases the physical version of his debut, Always Home, this month. It's a little rough around the edges, but I really liked it a few months back (Music, Sept. 5: "Going Dutch"). At the heart of Home lies positivity, though it's still got a raw edge that can sometimes hit hard. Personally, I hope K.Dutch keeps going with the writing, and I recommend  kicking the guy a couple bucks for an album so he can pursue his MC-ness.

Meanwhile, a fundraiser for the Santa Fe Playhouse takes the form of a comedy roast of  Chango/Love Gun/Moby Dick frontman Andy Primm (5 pm Wednesday Nov. 8. $50-$250. El Mesón, 213 Washington Ave., 983-6756). This is exciting stuff, and ol' Alex here may have been invited to partake. But I'm sincerely curious—do I go at it with good-natured ribbing, or do I really stick it to the sonofabitch? I know where I'm leaning (dick moves). If you know anything embarrassing about Primm or have any good ideas about how to get slammin', lemme know: alex@sfreporter.com. I am serious (with special thanks to violinist Karina Wilson for already sending some good dirt my way). And Andy—I'm coming for you.

Me 'n' my dumb friend Jasper 'n' my buddy Tim and his wife all popped by Meow Wolf the other night to see pop-punk quartet Joyce Manor. The band was tight, this is true, but the real magic of the night was in the sheer number of young folks (not only under 45 but, like, teenagers) who attended. Nice job, everyone involved.

Also this week, Albuquerque's Heather Trost pops back into town for a performance at Second Street Brewery's Rufina Taproom (8 pm Friday Nov. 4. $5. 2920 Rufina St., 954-1068) and she's got local country-Western champ (and 2015 SFR Album of the Year winner) Greg Butera along for the ride. Now, I'm aware I've mentioned Trost a bunch in recent months, but it's only because her music is so so good and her most recent album, Agistri, is so so fantastic. Those who caught her set at the recent Noise for Now benefit at the Santa Fe Opera alongside TV on the emmer-effing Radio know what I'm talking about. Butera is no slouch, either, you guys.

Later this month, The Replacements' Tommy Stinson brings his new act, Cowboys in the Campfire, to Jono Manson's Kitchen Sink Studio (7 pm Thursday Nov. 16. $20. 528 Jose St., 699-4323). I mention it early because seating at these things is very limited, so you may wanna get on that now. PS: If there's a nicer guy than Manson out there, we've never met them.

I started a punk band with some dudes. So here's a heads-up that we're
mediocre as hell and have no plans or expectations of stardom or even gaining fans or even having people sit through an entire set. I'll let you know if and when we play if you want to come and heckle me, but you should know that I can play over three chords, so …

Finally, I was saddened to hear about the passing of musicians
Micah Chappell and George Adelo. Not only were they musical titans around here, but everything we've heard from everyone who knew them has been overwhelmingly positive. Adelo's son George III is a guy (and DJ) I've admired since basically forever and was kind enough to take my call the other day and tell me a little about his dad (who you can read about at
sfreporter.com), and even though I was stuck working on the night of Chappell's memorial show at The Underground, I've been told it was a fantastic sendoff for the guy. Let's tell people we love them as much as we can.

See y'all next time.