John Vettese is a music writer and photographer based in Philadelphia. He is the editor of WXPN's music blog The Key, producer of the audio/video live performance series The Key Studio Sessions, and a contributor to Magnet Magazine.
Madison McFerrin is almost like a hypnotist: She creates expansive, atmospheric grooves that grow and bloom, layer by layer. It's the kind of music pulls you in before you even realize just how much is going on. And she does it all with just her laptop, a loop station and her voice.
In the 12 years that its members have expanded their palette from barreling heavy metal to complex, psych-tinged hard rock, one thing has been a constant about Baroness: It's a loud, loud band. Even its ballads are bruisers – something we hear in "Tourniquet" on this year's Gold and Grey, where roomy acoustic strums give way to scorched-earth distortion.