There’s a seemingly obvious reason Doyle Bramhall II was pretty much out of the spotlight between the releases of his 2001 album Welcome and last year’s gorgeously mature and textured Rich Man: The dude’s been busy.

As you might guess, the real story’s a bit more complicated – and interesting.

“I am embarrassed to be here,” sings Wild Pink singer, guitarist, and songwriter John Ross on “I Used to Be Small.” The “here,” in this case, is the United States.

On the New York-based indie-rock band’s self-titled debut album, Ross explores getting older through the people and places around him. The past is at the forefront, with Ross recalling looking through the window at the Hudson Valley, being told that “if you never stop moving, then you’ll never feel bad” in “Broke on,” a journey through memory. He sings about being a passenger in a parent’s car, riding bikes, “hearing about the war, and knowing it’s not yours.” The listener gets access to moments that shaped whom he became.

When I met last week with the people now running Daytrotter, Ben Crabb – who books the recording sessions for the 11-year-old Quad Cities-based Web site – let this nugget drop: “I just booked George Winston in for a session.”

Yes, that George Winston, the artist best known for platinum-selling, seasonally titled solo-piano records from the early 1980s on the Windham Hill label. For a site that always prided itself on highlighting the new and the next, the pianist seems an odd choice.

When Owen Ashworth dissolved his solo project Casiotone for the Painfully Alone after more than 10 years, he set out to start anew.

“I liked the challenge of starting over and just writing a whole new set of songs and seeing what a blank slate would feel like,” he said in a recent phone interview.

Ellis Kell died suddenly in December – after an October cancer diagnosis – and he was known to many as a stalwart part of the Quad Cities music scene and a longtime staff member of the River Music Experience. But these remembrances attest that Kell was loved far beyond those roles.

Peace, Love & the Joy of Music, a benefit concert for the Kell family, will be held on Saturday, January 21, from 4 to 11 p.m. at the RiverCenter (136 East Third Street, Davenport). The suggested donation for admission is $10. Scheduled performers include the Ellis Kell Band, The Whoozdads?, The Way Down Wanderers, David G. Smith, The Candymakers, Lojo Russo, The Velies, Rude Punch, The Curtis Hawkins Band with Ernie Peniston & Hal Reed, Quad Cities Blues Mafia, and RME Camp Kids Jam.

Norwegian garage rockers Death by Unga Bunga, playing at the Village Theatre on February 28, buzzed through the writing, recording, and mastering of Fight! in just six weeks. Released in September, the four-song EP is over in a flash – 12 minutes of ragged indie garage rock infused with power-pop riffs that could have come straight out of a Cheap Trick song.

Sam Vicari isn’t always as direct as the title of his fourth album – Blunt – might imply.

Vicari, who will play a February 17 solo show at Rozz-Tox, kept gravitating toward the theme of aging while writing his 2016 album. But he taps into the emotions and realizations that come with getting older, and they’re often complicated.

“I want to barf on you,” sings Arin Eaton on “Sad,” the most stripped-down song on the 2016 Karen Meat EP She’s Drunk Like the Rest of Us. “I hate what you’ve put me through.”

While vomit is nowhere near unexpected from a Karen Meat & the Computer track (see puking references in songs such as “I Wrote You a Card” and “Pizza & Beer”), Eaton is coming from a more-personal place on this solo EP.

Sean Moeller Illustration by Dave Leiberg for the Time & The Mystery Podcast

I’m a glutton for these year-end wrap ups. They’re fascinating and ultimately demoralizing because as you’re reading all of them – taking that finger down the rankings – it doesn’t take you very long at all to see a pattern, and you wonder why everyone’s lying. You know damned well that there can be no consensus for this activity – especially across so many publications and outlets. But there is almost always a consensus, and I call BS on it. Don’t fall for these lists. Each one should be startlingly different and ranging. They should be the result of tightening the beautiful shambles that music does to you and your daily life.

When writing and recording Sleeping Jesus’ debut EP, Perennial, Nick Elstad took the opportunity to explore his life through songwriting like never before.

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