New Music | Friday Roll Out: Will Johnson, Baroness, Buffalo Nichols, Danko Jones, Sextiles

With shifting membership since its inception in 2003, the band has remained consistent since 2017 with the lineup of Nick Jost (keyboards, bass), Sebastian Thomson (drums), Gina Gleason (lead guitar), and founder John Baizley. Now with the band’s sixth studio album Stone (Abraxan Hymns), Baroness shows there’s always room for improvement. Given, we still have the band’s frantic guitars with rhythms of technical prowess, along with Baizley’s over-the-top vocal deliveries which could morph from angelic to a growl all in the same song. The band moves from stadium-sized riffs on “Anodyne” to quieter, harmony-filled songs like the brief “The Dirge” without batting an eye but it’s songs like the powerful “Last Word” that quickly garners your attention. At over six minutes long, the sonic boom is confounding, seemingly all over the place but there’s method to the Baroness’ madness. Dynamic shifts almost seem to change the progression of the song but it’s still the same song! Stone is probably Baroness at its very best.

This is Danko Jones, the Canadian rock trio out of Canada and despite the boyish good looks of the band, they’ve been around for quite some time, releasing 10 full-length albums of sheer fire and brimstone. The group returns with its eleventh album Electric Sounds (AFM Records) and it doesn’t seem there are any plans on slowing down. While his sneer and cocksure attitude is felt from track to track, it might be because it’s with reason. Danko – guitarist, vocalist and namesake of the band – always delivers his voice and guitar chords with the brilliance of a 1,000 suns. Power-punk vibes are filtered through “She’s My Baby” while frenetic tracks like “Eye For

On the opening “Guess Who’s Back,” Danko sneers into the mic singing “Guess who’s back?/It’s me motherfucker” as the band rages in unison with their instruments. There’s no “chill” to the band here and its call to arms sets the tone for the rest of the album. The band, rounded out by bassist John “J.C.” Calabrese and drummer Rich Knox, powers through track after track. On “Good Time” Danko exclaims “I came here to fuck shit up and have a good time,” which seems about right here. The power makes room for more pop shenanigans on “Get High” which features Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham on backing vocals. Of course this is a stand out cut, varying just slightly from the band’s usual pelvic thrust but it’s more than welcomed. An Eye” and “What Goes Around” seem to capture the energy of the band’s live performances as the members tap into their punk roots. Electric Sounds is classic Danko Jones distilled to perfection


More often than not, what seems to pass for electronic music is mundane, repetitive, and self-indulgent neurosis. Is that harsh? Well, it’s supposed to be. A vast majority of it always ends up on the cutting room floor and rightly so, but at other times there may be an artist or two that just might be, intriguing. While I did think that Sextile was just the name of a group, I didn’t realize it was one of five actual or notional values of a variable dividing its distribution into six groups with equal frequencies. It’s based on statistics and it also revolves around astrology & astronomy, an aspect or position of 60 degrees between two planets or other celestial bodies. Sextile ruminates around the latter of the two.

It’s also an electronic band out of Los Angeles that records and plays EBM joints, Electronic Body Music, not to be confused with EDM. I think I can see and feel that, because what Sextile does on its third full-length release Push (Sacred Bones) is much more sensual and seemingly more provocative. The group, Brady Keehn (vocals, guitar, electronics), Melissa Scaduto (drums, electronics, guitar), and Cameron Michel (guitar, keyboards), is more than just an electronic outfit, which is easy to see/hear once the album starts playing. The band’s post-punk antics aren’t missed. “Basically Crazy” is littered with guitars and electronic drum patterns but it’s a completely different take. Sextile never lets up here, driving guitars into walls, floorboards, and wherever else it may take it. “Modern Weekend” allows guitar chords to drift while punctuating the song with scratchy picks on metal strings. There’s always that underlying mechanical rhythm that’s the driving force. But let’s get back to the electronic side of things. “Lost Myself Again” is dirty, not as dirty as say Alec Empire methodology but it slides around in the same manner.

“Crash” is sensual electronic body music if I’ve ever heard it. Vocals are airy around a mid-tempo with repetitive notes that keep from becoming repetitious. This is what’s to love about Sextile as it allows the song to take on a life of its own. “New York” starts off much like a New Order “Blood Dance” remix would but there’s a sweet underlying keyboard play at hand that doesn’t allow its evil nature to take foot. The band moves through varying genres but they’re knit together neatly allowing its own identity to surface throughout. “Basically Crazy” rocks with dynamic shifts but we get the sense that it’s still the same band from one track to another.

Push is a welcomed surprise that allows listeners a sense of diversity. One can only imagine what a Sextile show must be like, and if it’s anything like this, just make sure I’m on the guest list because whoever’s with me…. We’re dancing the night away.  


Here we are, and when we leave things in the distance, we forget how incredible they once were. How often have we all been on a journey of rediscovery? It might be a moment of nostalgia that tugs on one’s heartstrings, or even a reminder of a past you’d rather leave where it was originally tucked away. Usually, it’s the former rather than the latter.

When I first discovered the music of Will Johnson, it was through his band Centro-Matic, indie rockers with a southern touch and a flair for dramatic compositions that were passionate, and filled with vibrancy. Through eleven full-length releases, almost just as many EPs, and a handful of singles, the band ran its course for almost two decades. Through his tenure with Centro-Matic, Johnson remained busy with South San Gabriel, a band with a fluid line-up that experimented a bit more. Of course, the prolific musician also worked with a number of varying projects as well, aside from even releasing music under his own name and just like that, he’s released his ninth solo long-player, No Ordinary Crown (Keeled Scales).

Throughout the album, we make our way through a kaleidoscope of sound, tailormade for the decerning listener, as well as for those with naivete of believing Will Johnson simply makes his way through pop music with an indulgence for catchy melodies and hooks. Whichever way one may lean towards, the outcome is going to be the same, as Johnson occasionally fills songs with walls of guitar (“Sinker, Sinking), with wavering vocal melodies surrounding it at times. The song bleeds out guitar notes that collide with the rhythm, closing to its eventual end. It seemingly doesn’t get better than this until moody keyboard notes hit deliberately with intention, to make listeners pay close attention (“In Granada”). The song builds around those notes, lightly percussed with guitars and strings drifting around as it slowly crescendos. Its validity is layered within the emotion of the song as it tapers out but you’re so invested, and the tears won’t – and can’t – be contained. Johnson’s songwriting seems uncanny and even mystical because there’s no way one man can deliver songs that clearly leave an exclamation mark at every turn. Even at his softer moments (“Of Passengers And Plight”) he’s tugging at those emotional strings, luring listeners in, spewing melodies through sliding guitar notes, vocal melodies, and backing harmonies.

We get the best of both worlds on the opening track though (“Along The Runner [No Ordinary Crown]”) which I can only assume is the album’s title track. Johnson sets the tone for the album here with a quiet-esque intro, building around stunning melodies, reining them in, and releasing them. There’s a restrained explosiveness here and you may expect the dynamics to shift but Johnson is no ordinary songwriter. He doesn’t offer up what you expect, but what you need. But can we take a moment here to note how Johnson doesn’t need much to deliver a catchy number (“Conduct”), just his voice, light percussion, and guitars? His cooing vocal harmonies are just exquisitely delivered here and no one will be able to get enough. It leads directly into the next one (“Inverio”), a minute-and-a-half interlude that’s captivating as with picked acoustic guitar circling around breathy atmospheres. Johnson never fails to rock, and rock he does (“Swine”).  The overdriven guitar effects never detract from the beauty of the song, and that’s all I have to say about that. It’s one raucous affair.

I can imagine you’ll only need to get halfway through No Ordinary Crown to realize the brilliance of Will Johnson. He is a master craftsman, weaving together melodies with ease. Everything about No Ordinary Crown is vivid and clear with splashes of genius. I don’t say this lightly about many people but hey, Johnson wears that crown well.


When was the last time you threw something on and thought, “This is unlike anything you’ve heard in a long time”? Yes, it’s that moment when listening to Carl “Buffalo” Nichols’ sophomore full-length The Fatalist (Fat Possum), as semblances of bluegrass, Americana, and country are all blended together along with Nichols’ gravelly voice and tempting prose. It’s not the music alone that’s moving but by in large Nichols’ delivery.

He opens the album with the southern twang of “Cold Black Stare,” a song rallying around disillusionment; a life between the haves and the have-nots. Steady, sparse percussion underlies the sliding guitar work but the track is thunderous in more ways than one. Yes, yes, I understand comparisons are cheaper than a two-bit hooker on the Point but it has to be addressed. While the Leonard Cohen-like baritone is there, Nichols does give off strong Tom Waits vibes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, to the contrary, it works to Nichols’ benefit. But that’s not to say he’s merely a carbon copy of those that came before him. His songwriting is above par and can hang with the best of them, and even surpass. “You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond” is risky, as he mixes contemporary instrumentation with traditional. Mixing in Charley Patton delta blues samples along with grainy 808 beats may not work for some but Buffalo Nichols powers through it, pushing his sound through the 21st century and it’s almost majestic through all the spirituality within.

Nichols obviously gets personal and utilizes his music as a conduit for it. “Turn Another Stone” itself he moves from town to town, “Atlanta only seemed to cause me pain/New Orleans, where I first tried crack cocaine/with my tail between my legs I caught a train/to bring me to the Midwest once again…” A turning stone, just another name for rolling. The melody is infectious and the strings fit in well obviously, as he makes his way back to the home…and he’s gone again. But it’s the morose “The Difference” that’s touching. It’s deathly melancholy is juxtaposed against a sweet melody and yes, it strikes nerves with his descriptive words and plucked notes. Then there’s the closing “This Moment (featuring Samantha Rise)” and we should all be about it! Now yes, while I may have mentioned Cohen and Waits earlier I did fail to mention one other, and it’s the late Mark Lanegan. Lanegan’s voice was foreboding and we always knew something amazing would follow, and this is what we get from Nichols. Guitars & strings propel Nichols, and singer/songwriter Samantha Rise gives the assist here. This is that moment where everything is elevated beyond belief.

Yes, this is filled with an assortment of comparisons but it’s warranted. Buffalo Nichols brings together all those varying styles into one magical piece of work in The Fatalist. There is no other artist that can match his songwriting within the genre(s) he travels within. Nichols is derivative unto himself and that’s not an easy feat to accomplish.