Sunday, December 19, 2021

Indie Music: 1st Base Runner "Ellis"

by Germar Derron

We prefer vocal music. That has to be true--radio, Top 40, karaoke . . . . And yes, many people love a good sax solo, a nice bass line, or a competent rhythm section, but we sing along to lyrics. Ellis, by 1st Base Runner, is the rare project where the track and vocals should get equal billing. You don't sing-along, you feel-along.

On "Near Me," the vocals don't kick in until almost a minute in. And before that, you're probably pretty content to let the loop-ish track play ad infinitum. But that vocal doesn't intrude on the experience. It's not excessively additive, overpowering, or even typically melodic. It's a signature. It becomes a part of what you were already nodding to. And like the track, the lyrics are repetitive, easy--maybe calming.

The vocals, throughout the EP, are highly treated, riding right on the line between a mood and superfluity. But this also helps to establish a theme or maintain some continuity. Thanks to that vocal processing, a consistent and comfortable rhythm, and similarly processed instruments, this project is a model of cohesion. 

Overall, this is art, but not in that super-academic, mostly unprofitable sense. Listening to the tracks feels like walking through a museum. But if you're keen for something a bit more traditional, Ellis has that too. It's probably most evident throughout "Flux," and especially its chorus, "you're still out there . . .  ."

Some may want to call this Shoegaze. And though the feeling might be familiar, the product is almost antagonistic to the structure of the genre. Here, the vocals are clear and present and really ride on top of the track. Nothing seems too loud. There's a tighter fit overall, but yes it's still very dreamy.

I like "Ellis" because it's so unintrusive. In a land of people that love listening to lo-fi beats while we study, clean, and entertain, I give it a huge thumbs up. 


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