The Bettendorf-based project Pulsing makes some sort of case for the continued relevance of Game Boy tones transplanted into other musical contexts – in this case, a strain of electronic weirdness that falls somewhere between dungeon synth and sludge metal.

Another month, another spellbinding long-form ambient album issued from Rock Island composer Terry Skaggs, also known under the lower-case moniker dead lizard grin.

Another champion in the annals of terrible band names, Bettendorf’s Cuck Dirt seems to be an offshoot of the noise project Voiddweller, whose recordings have recently been reviewed in the Reader. While Voiddweller seems to land closer to the overblown noise-rap chaos of groups such as Death Grips or Clipping., Cuck Dirt throws all caution to the wind and goes full unhinged, manifesting as a collage of momentary news media vocal samples, electronic drums, piercing feedback, and something like home-recorded black metal.

Landing somewhere between a chaotic burst of metal brutality and a free-for-all noise collage album, Fakeality fills its running time with incidental patches of field recordings, random snippets of dialogue, bursts of in-the-red guitar shred, and overdriven drum-machine beat-downs.

The Quad Cities' mainstay psych-rock/improv/freak goth crew Giallows dropped a live album in October that documents a show they played in July 2019 at Moline venue Factory of Fear. Despite its origin as a live recording, the band’s decision to release it as a stand-alone album seems justified in light of the relatively high production value and solid mixing job – far from a one-microphone room recording.

Among all the nü-metal bands that came to prominence in the late '90s and early '00s to bridge the gap between pop radio and dissonant, heavy sonics, it sure seems like Deftones have aged the most gracefully.

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.

COVID-19 concerns, venue closings, and a near-total wipeout of legitimate live music has forced most bands to adjust their plans and change their approach in 2020. But even before the music world was thrown into disarray, Davenport's Giallows were already changing, arranging, and adjusting, seemingly at random but ultimately by design.

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.

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