From a thematic perspective, stalwart free-form rock weirdos Dark Family from Moline seem to have taken the COVID-19 pandemic to heart, dropping two albums in mid-September that seem to float within a more morbid, albeit probably tongue-and-cheek, virus-type mood. The cover of We All Fall Down (you know, like, a “Ring Around the Rosie” plague reference) bears an unsettling collage of children crying, while the sister album Coronaroma carries the plague right there in the title.

Moline-based indie rock crew Sunshrine whip up a heady cocktail of garage-rock tunes, psychedelic-rock excursions, and amorphous collage pieces, all frosted with a sheen of immaculate, Beatles-esque pop production for their self-titled LP Sunshrine.

Rock Island’s resident drone/ambient scientist Terry Skaggs seems to drop a new release under his dead lizard grin moniker at the crazy clip of one per month, further populating his bottomless Bandcamp page which now sits at 77 releases (!!!) with exercises in drifting electronic sculpture, neo-classical orchestral textures, and the occasional hushed electronic beat pattern.

On August 27, we celebrated what would have been Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’s 83rd birthday. Though she passed away in 2007, the spirit of her music reaches more people now than ever before thanks to a series of high-profile reissue campaigns and dissemination across the Internet.

Radio host, podcaster, and DIY history buff Kristian Day has become a patron saint and detailed archivist of the criss-crossing underground music circuits of Iowa. His podcast Iowa Basement Tapes has logged over 100 shows to date, all of which focus on bands that have essentially been forgotten by time, mostly after years of inaction.

Riley Gale, the lead vocalist of Dallas-based crossover thrash-metal juggernauts Power Trip, passed away on August 24 at the age of 34. If you’ve ever listened to even one minute of Power Trip’s music, or were lucky enough to see them play a live set, you know that they were an unstoppable force that brought a galvanizing energy and unbridled sense of forward motion to the world of extreme music.

Davenport-based hyper-prog-metal instrumental shredders Doppelganger have been rolling out tracks from their forthcoming self-titled album since the first single “Plumbus” landed in March of last year. (Yes, we see the Rick & Morty reference here, guys.) The long build-up to the proper album drop on September 25 makes sense in the context of their beyond-detailed omni-metal songwriting, because each four-minute-or-so chunk of this material proves so dense and constantly shifting that it contains its own standalone narrative worth poring over.

What does it mean for journeyman musician and revered songwriter Phil Elverum to make an album under the name The Microphones in 2020? The project Mount Eerie has been his mainstay since the early 2000s. The Microphones began years before and documented some of his earliest work around which his reputation was formed and his role in the lineage of institutions such as K Records and the traditions of what we now know as bedroom pop, lo-fi music, and emo was solidified.

Awash in meat smoke and bongwater, Davenport-based self-professed “bbq death metal” duo Pit Lord recently released their new album Seasonings in the Abyss.

Rock Island’s own Randall Hall dropped a transfixing full-length album titled Oracle in mid-June that documents a cycle of his extended saxophone experiments and electro-acoustic compositions – all with the intent to, as he explains, “delve into the mythic, the esoteric, and the apophatic.” Loaded with fierce atonal sax shred, passages of freewheeling improvisation in more consonant modes, and interstitial segments of processed spoken word and electronics that build on his central theme of ancient Greek mysticism, Oracle lands as a fully realized and diverse statement of purpose from Randall Hall with seemingly few other precedents in the Quad Cities scene.

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