“The album was born from the stagnance of the pandemic and the parting ways of a founding member of the band. It was a big change for us and we were left at a crossroads of uncertainty. After pouring ten years of blood, sweat, and tears into this band, we decided to stick it out and produce what we believe to be the best project yet. Our fifth studio album is unique to our discography because it’s our first album as a three-piece band.”
So one song for each year. What a promise and what a story! Medusa’s Disco from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, have developed with extreme confidence a commendably artistic album that will excite picky Rock fans and Pop Art lovers. The abided-by styles throughout the duration of the project, range widely from Rowdy Rock, Alt Rock, and Pop Rock, to Classic Rock and Acid Rock. A sort of one-stop shop for hungry fans and inquisitive minds.
1. People Are Programs
The spicy guitars light up the room with an aggressive note progression from the start. The reverb-filled drums fill up the sequence while remaining on the same decibel level as the guitars. The acoustic tandem adorned by the energy emanating from the band members, renders the character of People Are Programs even more alluring. After 30 seconds of intense build-up, the rhythm picks up and we’re expecting someone to start singing or shouting anytime soon.
Subliminal sentience/ Surges through a blossoming/ We’re synchronized/ As we walk to the guillotine/ Aching degenerates pull levers/ For eternity, sing-shouts Hunter Root. Now this ladies and gents is a mind rebellious against stagnation and accepting things as they’re presented to you. We’ve already known for a while that Hunter Root delivers layers upon layers of meaning in his lyrics but in People Are Programs, the third-eye type of ordeal becomes crystal clear.
The singer continues in the same vein of artistic perturbation and very warm vocals despite them being filtered through a noise compressor: Rotten sacks/ Get the last laugh heating spoons/ While they’re cackling/ And beating death to their doom/ Empty shells destroy themselves/ Hell. Eesh! Nostradamus’s grand, grand nephew maybe?
The song returns to its initial sonic motif and builds on it with fervor. Something good has to come out of this moving forward. And it does, both in the live and studio version, there is an unexpected derivative taking place around minute 2 along with Hunter’s wooh! thrown in the middle. Think of Opera acts and their intermissions.
After a full repeat of the first verse, a mighty guitar riff enthralls the listener’s senses and helps remind us we’re deep into the record and Hunter Root decides to throw some shade: Back washed men/ Psychologically subdue/ Slaughter every hope for truth/ From strategic view/ Deep voiced men/ Strutting in their cheap cloaks. Just who did you mean Hunter,? 😀
Flirting rather openly with symbolism and mysticism, the artist amps up his pitch and touches on topics like life lessons, nature, human stupidity, and crowns the song with the following lines (our favorites tbh): Curious children become furious/ In search of what/ They’ve forgotten how to live/ ‘Cause the door is shut/ Beautiful people/ Shine only to blind the rest.
The sonic conclusion of People Are Programs culminates in an electrifying guitar solo towards the end that walks in the shoes of rawness and musical sexiness that Hunter Root pre-established via his rendition. The song leaves the audience with a sense of completeness and fulfilled expectations. People Are Programs introduces itself as a powerful Alternative Rock baseline upon which the starting impression of the album Medusa’s Disco takes shape.
2. Little Hot Rod
Boy oh boy! Rowdy Rock after a bonafide Alt-Rock piece? We begin to understand why the band picked the title Medusa’s Disco.
Those huge drums and largely encompassing guitars add a most colorful facet to the first half not only of the song but of the album as well. As the chords increasingly pick up speed and effervescence, they halt temporarily the race pairing up with the drums in announcing the arrival of the vocals: Little hot rod babe/ Cut me down to size/ Drive into that sunset/ Like a trip into your eyes/ Can’t look away/ Oh Lord she knows I wanna play. Elvis would be proud. The liveliness palpable in the singer’s rendition promotes the vocals to take center stage even after he’s stopped singing. What we simultaneously love and admire about this second record is the commercial foundation that is congruent in all the instrumentation. This is f*cking catchy and uber danceable even for newbies to the genre.
Hunter Root provides additional flirtatious vibes to the track: Staying in her lane/ Ain’t part of the game/ She’s turning heads and taking names/ Keep that motor clean babe/ You know you’re running hot/ Keep on misbehaving/ And you’ll be begging it to stop. Hot rod turned bad girl by any chance? 😀 Fabulous lyrics!
Around minute one there is a great deal of hot resonance from that guitar and a top-engaging riff that conjures rockstar power in the mind of the listener. It has drama, tension, and richness of characterization.
She’s burning hot/ She’s burning hot/ Despite the warning signs/ I know she’s never gonna stop/ She’s running hot/ She’s running hot, pulls the singer even more potency in his pipes making the segment a sort of statement. So, if by any chance you were falling asleep on the bus while listening to Little Hot Rod, Hunter Root’s got you covered.
Little Hot Rod provides a rich tapestry of Rock And Roll amalgamated with Classic Rock ending up in a buoyant Rowdy Rock masterpiece that’ll get your ass off your seat.
3. Upside Down
That intro is so reminiscent of Bruno Mars’ Locked Out Of Heaven! Except that Upside Down sounds like you’re locked out of heaven and waiting to enter hell for the happy hour. The use of the drumsticks alone as an acoustic element to kick things off is a dream come true for ASMR fans, and the manly Ugh hypes up the 3rd record before anything even really started.
The wobbly electric touch preceding the vocals confer a cool oomph to the song. And did anybody say sarcasm? Because Hunter Root’s got plenty of it. Better check your ears out baby/ Go right away/ ‘Cause I don’t think you’re understanding/ Any word I say, flames the singer his love interest. The upbeat instrumental transposes the depth of the wording to a lighter plane almost turning it into a theatre play with marionettes and cool lighting.
I bring you music/ And all you do is bring me/ Down down down, appears to be the hook of Upside Down except that it’s not. Based on the repetitions and recurring musical motifs, one could treat the entire track as a never-ending chorus brimming with personality and hidden-not-so-hidden messages from the narrator to the party pooper aka the bad-hearing dude/dudette. As a matter of fact, if we had to pick out one record off Medusa’s Disco for a romantic comedy soundtrack, Upside Down would be IT.
I use those pretty words/ The best that I found/ But when you hear me/ You hear upside down/ Better check your eyes out baby/ They’re fading fast/ Even when I win the race lately/ I still come in last/ ‘Cause I bring you music/ And all you do is bring me/ Down down down, thunders the Rock artist in the same sardonic tone and with a devilish smile behind it. You can’t see it but you can hear it.
At 02:30 there is serious movement bestowing the audience to lean in heavier for an exceptional bit that veils the mystique of the song into a spectacular riff bouncing off the walls. That guitar is so unhinged and alive that you can easily interpret its rendition as the second vocalist of Upside Down. It roars and flies and sparkles and leaves the audience in a top euphoric state.
For those who may not know the literal definition of undertow, it’s the following as per Google: an underlying current, force, or tendency that is in opposition to what is apparent. This is meaningful in the context of the incipient tunes resounding with sass, sultriness, and confidence. The bass guitar intimately connects with the hidden personality of the listener. You might think you’re a special flower oozing light and butterflies but we all know there’s a freak inside of each of us. And Undertow sets out to bring it to the surface.
The nostalgic and curious guitar strums stroll idyllically in the foreground conditioning the audience to expect Hunter Root to sing any moment now. Aaand not so fast. A wild-sounding yet stylistically-tamed riff earnestly commends our attention around second 40. As the instrumental flourishes, it comes to a planned halt around minute 1, and guess what? Hunter’s here!
Odd weather’s moving in/ You run and bump your shin/ Our days are dwindling/ What will you make of it?/ Let go of letting go/ Expose the undertow/ We are a dying breed/ That feeds the seed of greed, sings in a linear fashion the artist. The subsequent motif openly expresses the underlying intent of the composers of Medusa’s Disco: using instruments in the place of a vocal supported hook.
As some wondrously strong lyrics develop along the way (The answer comes and goes/ We know until we don’t; Hold on to technology/ Say goodbye to your privacy), an exciting conversion takes place right in the middle of the song with the guitar emphasizing the message Hunter Root has for us: My mind is haunting my head/ It feeds on me my dread/ My heart is hoping for change/ Communicate to my brain.
Now imagine a metal bird flying in circles while ascending to the sky. That’s exactly what the extended riff sounds like after the sequence mentioned above. It’s stellar, it’s powerful, it’s magnificent, it’s solitary. And as it reaches the edge of the horizon, it culminates in high notes about to burst into the Universe.
The 4th song off Medusa’s Disco, Undertow, is the track proving a logical progression behind the album’s layout for it is the most commercially sounding piece yet and it benefits from a thrilling combination comprised of the singer’s transparent feelings and fierce guitar vibes.
5. Doors With Keys
Now the drums are becoming stupendously vital for the development of Doors With Keys. From the get-go, the instrument lands with as much significance as the usual leader, the electric guitar. Around second 18 the two erupt in a prosperous amalgamation worthy of the adulation of Rock fans. There’s something very Y2K about the sound of Doors With Keys. We’re gonna reserve the right to say it’s the Pop Rock juice coming out rather obviously: upbeat tempo, loud instruments, aggressive landings.
The retro filter touch applied on Hunter Root’s vocals do something to the soul. It draws you in making you feel like you’re missing a time that probably isn’t even yours to miss. It unveils itself as a bit of a platonic romanticism causing you to assume the meaning of the lyrics without fully understanding why: Sunburnt skin/ Sun-dried eyes/ Tired heads/ Long be free/ Dressed in sun/ Stripped my face clean.
The music reverberates pondering momentum managing to reconcile the need for a slow-down before a total breakdown. The latter is palpably epic with the arrival of the 3rd Got time to kill but now you’re gone repetition.
The curt 6 bars exhibit a fresh production element more flagrant than the songs thus far, that of supporting back vocals adorning the song’s acoustics: Needed rain/ Showers ground/ Birds of prey/ Doors with keys/ Grass and weeds/ Songs and spells.
The sonic Rock upheaval occurring from 2:24 up to 2:50 gratifies aficionados of letting loose and going wild. The carefully woven framework relies on the drum frenzy and protesting guitar to uplift the public’s mood. This approach is again employed after the singer’s roaring screams that place Hunter Root in a new light, that of the multi-faceted rockstar.
The last hypnotic guitar rundown reinforces the greatness Medusa’s Disco are capable of. Hunter’s last vocal reprisals deliver the same value as the band’s instrumentation. Doors With Keys leaves the audience gazing in amazement at the extensive catalog and influences the Rock band can pull off in just 5 songs on the album.
6. Hazy From The Maze
If you could imagine a fight ring represented acoustically by the ominous guitar, and everyone applauding in unison – portrayed by the staccato drums, you obtain Hazy From The Maze. At around second 20, the main character is sonically making his way to the ring with the crowd cheering on and losing their sh*t pretty much. In all seriousness, it is mind-boggling how musical instruments can depict an entire visual scene.
I don’t need it/ Let alone believe it/ Like a needle that you needed in me/ I’m not crazy/ Just a little hazy/ From the maze you made/ From making me bleed/ I can’t control the things you say/ I’m moving on to seize the day/ Uninvited/ Even if you try to hide/ I’ll light you like I see a disease, goes the first verse. The storyteller aka Hunter Root, decided this time to play around a lot more with the rhyming schemes following poetry-like tangencies. Sometimes the rhythmic foot is on and sometimes it’s missing altogether. Thus far the song feels less like music and more like art placed on music.
The lyrics see new yet similar additions shortly after the first lyrics but things take a very interesting, cryptic turn towards the third part of the wording layout: You’ll find me howling at the moon/ Don’t hyper-focus on my tune/ Just let this sink into your skull/ Just let this play while your world dissolves. The layered ooh-ooh-ooohs as a matter of fact, do act as sonorous howls inherently conferring beauty and a 3D dimension to the song.
A considerable portion of the song (everything that follows Hunter Root’s vocals to be more precise) is pure instrumental renditions for the eager, sophisticated, and appreciative public. All of the participating instruments take turns in shining and are joined one last time by the songwriter in reiterating the previous segment.
Hazy From The Maze is a more complicated Rock composition that furnishes a fund of imagination to the audience bestowing the freedom of interpreting both the mysterious music and cryptic lyrics as one feels in the moment. You could say it’s a dark-vibes record as you could say it’s a lighthearted centerpiece and you’d be right on both occasions.
7. Freak Out
Far from the highly interpretable title, Freak Out commences on a push-and-pull scale. First, the guitar hits, then the drums, then the silence, then the cycle repeats itself. The vicious rockability is whimsical and of course, it makes a full circle when combined with Hunter Root’s vocals.
My eyes are bloodshot and turning red/ I’m holding on too tight to what you said/ I’m searching for something to be about/ If it takes too long I’m gonna freak out, stab you in the heart the profound lyrics of the otherwise lively Rock baseline. If you ever felt like an option and not a priority in someone’s life, then you will, unfortunately, relate the closest to these words. The singer’s timbre is rather optimistic and jovial. Pay too little attention and you might miss the brooding aspect of the message.
While the artist repeats Freak Out, the music manifests a lighter touch to its progression compared to most songs on Medusa’s Disco thus far. It sounds like an electric tickle on the ear with some predetermined twists and turns. The spice is brought on by the guitar prior to Hunter Root singing the second verse and it’s impressive to witness.
I ran my mouth like you know I do/ Didn’t take any time to think it through/ Still searching for something to be about/ If it takes too long I’m gonna freak out, follows the second part of the song.
The remainder of Freak Out culminates in awesome yells and empty words forming the ultimate in-your-face type of Rock record that doesn’t demand too much nor does it stay around for too long. It’s short, sweet, and very complete.
Medusa’s Disco decided towards the end of the project to revisit Rowdy Rock with an adult take. It’s as if Little Hot Rod was the beginner’s version while Pinebox is the upgrade to business class. And truth be told, it’s one of the most curated and easily absorbed tracks of the 10.
The beginning is smoke and mirrors for the tranquil guitar is a savage beast awaiting the veil to be lifted so it can shine in Rock splendor. The drum sticks are tiny, sharp, yet perfectly intercalated with the boss instrument. The simultaneous chords taking place on top of each other are complementary to the song’s mix highlighting just how skilled the bandmates are in joining forces.
Before there are any vocal leads introduced to the audience, an entire rundown fills up the room and very eclectically magnetizes the audience’s attention.
Stop right there/ You’re getting away/ Your burning head just burned me out/ Your crumbling walls are shaking down/ I’m breaking away/ Your burning head just burned me out/ Are you trying to trade?/ Are you trying to trade? sings in a sardonic tone the man who should get paid for shampoo commercials. We’d also like to know where Hunter Root pulls inspiration from because this is no average or normal songwriting for that matter. This is some parallel universe thing in the works. We know who’d LOVE to sit with the lyrics for weeks on end!!! The conspiracy theorists. Medusa’s Disco, we just told you how to get the most return on your marketing investments 😀
The fun mood is prolonged by the rich instrumentation walking hand in hand with the melodic flow of the singer. The incessant guitar roaring is, in actuality, the best thing that could have happened to this song. The drums hold down the tempo with pride and delight becoming a cute companion that is distant but does her job and is there when you need her. Yup, the drums feel female on this track.
I dress myself in rags and bones now is the farewell phrase of Pinebox, the record that unequivocally advertises the heartfelt dedication of Medusa’s Disco to concocting non-standardized Rock music while still finding the needed commercial anchor points to appeal to the usual listener.
9. Rusty Moon
A fractionally enlivened intro is most uncommon from Medusa’s Disco. The guys seem to have unanimously decided to leave the most surprises for last. The romanticism ends as abruptly as it started. At around second 30, all of that intro segment and any trace of it is gone. Now it’s delectable chaos and a tint of anger underneath it.
Oh and the rusty moon/ How it looms above saloons/ Blooms and dies too soon/ Dedicate to it this little tune, performs Hunter Root in his usual manner of the carefree artist. The voltaic guitar and charged drums glide with incredible speed and concomitant ease. The remarkably prescient format of Rusty Moon leaves a long-lasting impression upon the listener triggering a sudden desire to replay the song from the start so that you can indulge in its sonic details that you might have missed the first time around. Wow, that was a long sentence but a sincerely deserved one.
The song eagerly picks up and ruthlessly drops off the instruments following a loop of infinite accords without taking the audience anywhere specifically. Mental disco for the fans would be a proper summarization of the phenomenon named Rusty Moon.
And the rusty moon looms is enough for you to be able to sing along for a while. Until you come across the bridge which, might we add, is hot and antagonistic to the rest of the narrative: Am I gonna give you one love/ Or am I gonna give you one shove/ Am I gonna give you one love today. The polarizing piece is followed by an acoustic bridge as well consequentially delimitating the two large sections of the record.
Hey baby/ Won’t save me is the adieu we get for Rusty Moon but not before the music explodes at the 4:45 mark Go yelled by Root. The note sequencing plays out in such a way that it is palpably perceived as an exchange of lines between two entities. There’s a fire question and you get a big resounding answer.
10. Surfin’ Billy
We appreciate the fact that the band decided to end the album on a high and also converted the narrative to a third-party perspective. The strategy might make the song less obviously relatable but once you start knowing Billy, things get interesting: Billy went out to sea/ He had to see it for himself/ He caught the biggest wave/ And rode it straight to hell.
Billy had a couple shotgun shells/ Tucked nicely in the mud/ He tried to free himself/ But did not have the guts/ Billy didn’t have the answers/ Just a one-track mind/ He’s so upset with things/ But never really knew the reason why, extends the image of the main character. The debonair spirit is beautifully present when the singer visibly opts for a highly melodic approach. When you read shotguns and upset you don’t think of a wavy, layered, vintage rendition. However, the breezy delivery strikes the listener as a ravenous appetite for going against the norm.
Billy’s not the subject/ Of the story or this song/ He’s just the manifest/ Of everything gone wrong/ Billy had a chance before/ Until the day he came to me/ Billy never learned to surf/ Because he could not find his feet, confirms Hunter Root that Billy is, indirectly, the person hearing out the song and their past mistakes personified by the fictitious character. Billy is you, Billy is Hunter, and Billy is us on a bad day.
Now that we know who Billy is, the empathy for the agonized and confused soul increases, and the last musical portion, all of a sudden, sounds hella meaningful and bittersweet. Think of when the hottest guy/gal you ever had smilingly tells you he’s not into you anymore and offers to pay for the dinner. Like… I can’t even hate you despite you breaking my damn heart. If you didn’t live through this experience yet, IT’S COMING.
Surfin’ Billy ends up feeling like the parting letter between Medusa’s Disco and the public. The coalescence of confusing lyrics, brilliant tunes, and glittering vocals, takes pleasure in converting the first-time listener into a long-time fan of the Rock band.
Song Credits: Hunter Root – Singer, Songwriter, Guitar Player; Justin Wohlfeil – Bass Player, Sound Engineer, Songwriter; Alex Aument – Drum Player, Songwriter; Spencer Martin – Mastering Engineer.
Written by Mariana Berdianu
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