After having followed him for two years and through a number of permutations of releases, one thing we at YEDM can say about 1st Base Runner (Tim Husmann) is he never ceases to surprise. Never skimping on quality, the Austin songwriter and producer has run through loads of styles and subgenres, not to mention labels, release structures and distro. Now settled on his own Souvenir Sound imprint, His latest EP Light Roars is still filled with loads of surprises, different styles and heavy emotion.
1st Base Runner is one of those artists who can explore and experiment to his heart’s desire but still somehow have a distinct core style, and that’s definitely what we see on Light Roars. Vacillating between a sort of grungy version of The Cure and Tom Waits post punk, with a heavy dose of creepy dream pop (think post-Crystal Castles Alice Glass), this EP contains shock after shock for fans while still being unflinchingly 1st Base Runner.
The aptly named EP opener “In the Beginning” has an eerie and minimal opening before heavy, theatrical drums introduce that Cure nod with Fascination Street-style guitars and sound design. As always, the rough, heady vocals add a bit of grunge or Tom Waits to the mix, and transitioning into the much more open and organic-sounding “Pushing Away,” the Waits comparison holds more weight for this particular EP. The post punk is heavy (triple pun score!) with this track, the sound design open and empty and even a bit deadened in the drums, though they still have that complexity to tie into the first song.
Yet another surprise comes with “Dead Wood,” as some surf rock/psychobilly peeks through in the guitars and sort of creates a feeling of driftwood, especially when the track transitions from mostly minimal rock to a fuller, more electronic vibe via some well-placed synths and sound design. 1st Base Runner has a unique way of keeping the EDM in his work, even when its at its most acoustic and seemingly sonically sparse, and both “Dead Wood” and its successor, the lightly pop-y “Give Up the End” are great examples of this.
Light Roars closes with the contemplative “Planter,” for which 1st Base Runner once again teamed up with creative director Dilly Gent, who’s famous, of course, for her work with Radiohead and oversaw the Matt Mauhrin-helmed, animated masterpiece “Break Even” and the IMDB-worthy “Man Overboard. directed by Heather Gildroy. Following the acoustic-morphed-electronic timeline of the track, the video for “Planter” starts off hyper-real, with grainy, black and white closeup shots of Husmann. The shorts distort more and more as the track goes on, however, moving with the emotion of the music and lyrics. The message looks to be tied up in self-perception, making choices about who one wants to be both in life and in the music industry, and the emotional weight that carries. The video really drives these points home in stark, almost excruciating realism. A perfect visual representation of the track.
The rawness of 1st Base Runner’s work always stands out, as does his skill with style and production. Light Roars is both a continuation of that rawness and an expansion of it into different styles and new sound design to connote even deeper and more complex feelings. This is possibly because he feels freer to create what he wants with his own label and distro, or simply the next step in what has already been a fascinating musical journey for this project, but either way Husmann’s emotional honesty and skill are once again the biggest surprises for his growing audience.
Light Roars is out now and can be streamed on Spotify or purchased on Bandcamp or the Souvenir Sound website. For more of 1st Base Runner’s videos, check out his YouTube channel. This includes the new live performance video of “Give Up the End,” a teaser for his upcoming live EP.