Lord Huron's Long Lost Album

We invited the on-air DJs at KFMH to share their top-five favorite new albums from 2021 and are pleased to share these lists (along with their on-air schedules) as a sampling of what one can expect by tuning back into “The Plus.”

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.

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.

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.

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.”

We last heard from Davenport-based composer William Campbell earlier this year with the release of his soundtrack to the Academy Award-nominated short film Hunger Ward, which profiled the famine in Yemen and the efforts of health workers to combat starvation and malnutrition of the children in the region. While Campbell’s score for the film featured swathes of his moody, affecting composition for the piano, the instrument formed only one piece of a larger palette that incorporated dark-ambient electronics and orchestral strings.

The Quad Cities' doom-metal/post-grunge duo Murnau seems to be getting back on the horse once again. Not that they ever necessarily fell off the horse, but, you know, society as a whole pretty much fell off our collective horse – and that fall was much more pronounced for musicians who were used to jamming at top volume in their pummeling guitar + drums sludge metal project. For now, it doesn’t seem like Murnau have announced any major album project, but they have individual tracks trickling out of the faucet here and there to keep us satiated.

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