I love the band Wombat. Iowa City’s most ferocious young free-improvisational trio brings the noise once again with Tapas de Wombat, an EP-length selection of shorter, more diverse tracks when compared to 2021’s great full-length Befriend the Giant.

Rock Island-based poet/rapper/producer Aubs. (period intentional) has been a stalwart of the Quad Cities hip-hop and DIY scenes for a number of years now, and has built a catalog of strong albums and EPs stretching back to around 2019. His newest drop, Politik’n., is a slim four-track affair that clocks in at fewer than 15 minutes, but the artist packs plenty of deep thought and compelling work into that short running time.

For his “new” album MOKSHA, released in early April via Missouri-based label Powdered Hearts Records, Davenport-based songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Brock Robinson unearthed a batch of material that he had originally written and produced around 2008. In the album’s liner notes on Bandcamp, Robinson declares, “I intended it to be the last organized production that I ever made. As I sunk into the depths of schizophrenia I made about 10 or 11 songs all of which were intended to be my swan song.”

Epic Games Absorbs Bandcamp.com

What’s the right stance to take here? The answer remains to be seen in the specifics of what Epic Games’ influence does to Bandcamp’s business model, interface, and overall ethos as a company viewed as some kind of benevolent godsend for smaller artists in the music industry without the weight of the entire major label industrial complex behind them.

The first couple months of the new year have historically been a relative dead zone for new music releases, as the industry resets and gears up for another calendar year with the bigger labels planning major drops typically dotted throughout the spring and summer.

More than a balm, music this past year was a glorious brick to the head, shaping how we see the world and introducing us to new experiences that temper our reality in ways that aren’t always positive, but are always quite welcome. Here are four releases from last year that blew my mind and kept the bricks flying.

If the music of Iowa City-based trio Wombat is any indication, Iowa City must have a thriving free-improvisation scene that I had no idea existed.

Wow, here’s a little bevy of surprises that tumbled into my Quad Cities-themed Bandcamp feed from seemingly out of nowhere. Well, specifically from ye olde Davenport. Keep the sieve open while you’re panning for Bandcamp gold and you’re gonna find some 24-karat nuggets in there before long, no matter where you look.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The Quad Cities have a psychotic, improbably centralized, and densely packed scene when it comes to death metal.

Dark Family has really stepped up both their songwriting and production games, peeling away some of the lo-fi haze and the more languid song structures to reveal the most direct, tuneful compositions I've heard from them yet, all presented at a level of clarity that marks a turning point in their catalog.