January is a right proper time to rest and rebuild, and if any business has earned that respite, it's Rozz-Tox – the Rock Island spot has spent more than a decade functioning as a music venue, art gallery, café, bar, hostel, and all-in-one “culture hub,” weathering the plague and coming out on the other side with fresh ideas, including all-vinyl DJ nights curated by local and regional musicians and knowledgeable non-musicians. The venue is breaking its winter's rest for two special events: an experimental show at the end of the month, and, on January 21, the formal QC headlining debut of Running Man.

The year's most fully-realized, cohesive album is a scant nine minutes long – it will probably take more time to read this article than it will to listen to the album.

Gallery of Skewered Swine was released on November 5, 2022. This second full-length album release finds musicians Pit Lord in their Davenport stronghold: a forbidding, unwelcoming, cyclopean structure looming over the industrial stench of the West End. They glare from their thrones, two heads of a table gouged with countless blade and stained by sauces unknown.

Joe Bonamassa is the biggest name in blues-rock today. The former child guitar prodigy has risen to stardom with virtually zero major-label support, instead forming J&R Ventures with manger Roy Weisman and producer/A&R man Kevin Shirley to bypass the fickle, meddling, trend-and-profit driven nature of the record companies and bring Bonamassa's music directly to the people.

Another calendar page has turned with the season, bringing with it a loaded month for live music in the Quad Cities. Looming large among the many shows scheduled for October is Judas Priest's October 29 appearance at the Vibrant Arena at the MARK, with Queensrÿche in tow. While most rockers and metalheads in the area are no doubt aware of the metal gods' imminent arrival, there are several other smaller shows happening this month -- including on October 21 and 22 -- that are equally worthy of consideration. Whether or not you have tickets for Priest, these displays of heavy metal thunder will make October 2022 a heavy and memorable month.

As the Wake Brewing Cvlt has grown, the Brothers Parris decided to bring live metal closer to home, specifically to the parking lot outside their headquarters in downtown Rock Island. Last fall's anniversary celebration featured venerable Midwestern stoners Bongzilla, and as their fifth anniversary approaches, Wake has another solid weekend of metal lined up for September 9 and 10.

Ryan Werner, Beverly Beverly Beverly. This 21-minute micro-masterpiece is loaded with more hooks, riffs and guitar harmonies than most albums twice its length. 13 rock songs shrunk down in a microwave for mass consumption, bubblegum hooks written by a literary-minded metal-head clever enough to drop lines about “circumstantial feasts.” There's more emotion here than meets the ear; repeated listening is mandatory.

Darsombra's swirling sheets of guitar and synth are accompanied by Everton's intense and detailed visual projections. These run the gamut from trippy patterns and Eastern-derived imagery to nightmarish depictions of Earth reminiscent of the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi (“world out of balance”). It's a lot to take in, which is the point. Their stated goal is to create a “a symbiotic audio-visual-energetic experience that creates a temporary reality, woven by sight, sound, and movement.”

Late in 2019, Iowa City's ZUUL dragged a large pile of small amps into a warehouse in Washington, Iowa. Even with a half-dozen amplifiers, an organ, drums, and sundry recording equipment, the three-piece barely took up more than a corner. The intention: to capture the minimalist intensity of their howling noise rock in a cavernous empty space, with microphones placed at intervals near and far to catch it all.

A recap of 2020 is unnecessary for this article. We all know what kind of year it was. Its upside was the incredible amount of good music that made its way to the ears of a world that needed to hear it - perhaps more than at any other time in recent history.