With a brash mix of bombast and self-regard, Baby Medusa brings forth a throw back-y sound that lands in different places across the board. The self-titled EP covers lots of ground, sampling styles from the last few-odd decades of pop/rock, while still maintaining a solid degree of coherence due to consistently high energy, production values, song structure and vocal delivery.
Baby Medusa sets the tone right off with album opener “Let's Walk Away From Here,” a big-but-baggage-less track populated by powerful riffs, bluesy vocals, thumping drums and a feel split between ’80s and ’90s radio rock. The song, like most on the album, establishes itself quickly with an intro guitar riff and moves aggressively and appropriately from part to part without ever overusing or overdoing a single riff, bridge or chorus. Like effective radio-rock it moves from one catchy part to another with the songs built around strongly connected riffs and always involving a searing guitar riff—which themselves are never excessive of self-aggrandizing.
The stylistic inspiration really is across the board, but the album is unified by the aforementioned structure and consistent vocal delivery. The second track “On the Verge Of Living” is upbeat with a great guitar riff that races down the fretboard but stutters on the turnaround for emphasis. Vocals have that pleasant, intelligible nice-guy quality of ’90s pop-rock acts like Barenaked Ladies—albeit with that band's predisposition for silliness. But the vocals do stand out in a sea of rock music and really help to unify the songs as they dance across decades of rock.
“Angel” is the obligatory acoustic track with a wonderfully understated electric guitar solo that complements the smooth and sweet vocals. “Turns to Gold” takes a page out of the Queens of the Stone Age playbook—not only with the chugging guitar riff and grittier vocals, but also with chorus built around a refrain of “Little Sister.” “Going to Ridgecrest” is a high-water mark on the album, seemingly the band's most natural sound amidst their varying directions. The guitar is simple yet infectious, ringing and meandering throughout, while the vocals are badass and in no hurry, clad in light reverb. The song is reminiscent of Thirteen Tales from urban bohemian-era The Dandy Warhols, although the song feels simpler and with fewer frills—which is absolutely a good thing. “You Gotta Love Me” has a guitar riff straight out of ’90s era Foo Fighters, while the closer “How Do You Laugh” somehow manages to sound like Blind Melon, Guns 'n' Roses and Led Zeppelin all wrapped into one. A couple of the other late album tracks emphasize some more straightforward rock sensibilities.
The album was recorded just outside of the band's hometown of LA at Golden Beat Studios. The majority of the album was quickly tracked over the course of a weekend with the band working fast and channeling their live show. That really shines through in the guitar solos and various noodling parts that play with the main riff on most every song. The quick recording is also evident on the general cleanness or lack of baggage on the album—this record wasn't hashed out on the studio with layers upon layers of effects or overdubs. It's also worth noting that the band cut a lot of the instrumentation on reel-to-reel tape before bouncing it to a digital format, so in many ways that achieved the best of both worlds with the process.
Overall, Baby Medusa is a bright, upbeat and straightforward album featuring high production values and great, effective musicianship. It feels very emblematic of the band's live show and, while slightly across the board genre-wise, maintains coherence though song structure and strong vocal design.
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