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.

On January 16, no fewer than 17 gifted Midwestern musicians will perform in Davenport's Redstone Room as featured guests in Polyrhythms' Third Sunday Jazz Series, with Mike Conrad & the Iowa Jazz Composers Orchestra proving that jazz lovers don’t need to look to New York City or Chicago for beautiful, creative, high-quality music.

With their timeless hits ranging from “I Walk the Line” to “I Fall to Pieces,” and from “Coal Miner's Daughter” to “Lovesick Blues,” Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Hank Williams will always be at the forefront of country, pop, and gospel musicians, and their iconic talents will be celebrated at Maquoketa's Ohnward Fine Arts Center in Sweet Dreams & Honky Tonks, the January 15 musical celebration starring gifted singers and musicians Tom Waselchuk and Lindsey Giese.

Performing in support of their second album Tell Tale Heart – which debuted at number seven on Billboard's Blues Albums chart this past fall – the Quad Cities musicians of the Avey Grouws Band play a January 7 concert at Davenport's Rhythm City Casino Resort Rhythm Room, demonstrating why Goldmine praised their 2021 release for its “adept arrangements, clear confidence, and a decidedly agile approach as far as the shifts in style.”

Touring in support of his forthcoming album Frayed at Both Ends, scheduled for release on January 28, chart-topping outlaw-county singer/songwriter Aaron Lewis headlines a January 14 acoustic concert at Davenport's Adler Theatre, treating fans to a repertoire that inspired Saving Country Music to rave, “Aaron's voice comes with a familiarity and richness of tone that endears itself to the songs he writes.”

An intimate evening of classical music will be hosted by the Figge Art Museum on January 8, with the Davenport venue presenting the Quad City Symphony Orchestra's principal oboe player in Up Close with Andrew Parker, a night of lilting and energetic compositions with Parker accompanied on piano by frequent QCSO guest performer Marian Lee.

Celebrating its return from a two-year hiatus, Opera Quad Cities rings in 2022 with a special presentation of Franz Schubert's Die Schöne Müllerin, a January 9 recital being held at Davenport's Great Hall at Trinity Cathedral, and a song cycle performed by Davenport native Nicholas Fahrenkrug and Greek pianist Eleonora Apostoldi.

Held in memory of Chamber Music Quad Cities founder Connie Sauer-Adams, the mother of the ensemble's artistic directors Gregory and Thomas Sauer, CMQC's January 2 winter concert at Davenport's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral will feature Sauer-Adams' sons performing alongside their gifted musician wives Serena Canin and Lee Taylor, and will deliver a thrilling program of Mozart (“Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K 493), Schubert (“Strong Trio in B-flat Major, D. 471), and Chopin (“Piano Sonata in B Minor, Op. 58).