By Nick Manteris · 3 Comments · Leave a Comment
EPs are not the ideal format to release music when your fans have been waiting to hear new music from you for years. They are, however, a great way for a band to get some music out into the world, to supplement an already released album or to preview an upcoming album. They’re usually just about the perfect length and they frequently end up being pretty good – like an album without filler. More artists should release EPs…as long as they remember to release them on a more frequent schedule.
10. Brother Ali – The Truth is Here
The truth is…if Brother Ali had replaced the five worst songs from his full-length 2009 release, Us, with tracks 1, 2, 7, 8 and any other track except 3 from The Truth is Here then he would have had – hands down, no questions asked (and any other cliché that you want to use) – the absolute best hip-hop release of the year. With the good stuff split between two releases, however, he ends up having a pretty good EP and a not-quite-as-good full-length.
9. Squarepusher – Numbers Lucent
The cover art on Numbers Lucent is very similar to 2008’s Just a Souvenir – which I really didn’t care for at all – and it was a pleasant surprise to find out that it doesn’t share the same sonic qualities. “Zounds Perspex” and “Paradise Garage” are the highlights and they rise above the other four average tracks.
8. Massive Attack – Splitting the Atom
Well, it’s not the mythical fifth album “LP5” – which is rumored to be coming soon – but at least Massive Attack released something in 2009. There’s been a long break since their last release, but apparently they’ve recorded several soundtracks (to movies that I’ve never seen) in the interim. The two songs to pay attention to are the title track (with its slow Tom Waits-like vibe) and the “Psyche” remix with Martina Topley-Bird.
7. Magic Wands – Magic Love & Dreams
I discovered these guys on the “Indie-pendence” iTunes sampler that was given away for free on Independence Day. And now, based purely on the songs “Black Magic” and “Starships,” I’m really curious to hear what kind of stuff they will make for a full album.
6. Emily Wells – Dirty
Emily Wells does some really amazing stuff with sound and she would have scored much higher on this list if not for the substandard track, “Symphony 9 & the Sunshine (Edub Remix).” The first song on Dirty is a beautiful collection of drumbeats and violin loops and, to illustrate the other side of her spectrum, she goes straight-up hip-hop on a cover of Biggie’s “Juicy.”
5. The Honey Trees – Wake the Earth
Beautiful music and a beautiful voice from a California-based band that records in Nashville...and they don’t even have a Wikipedia page yet. They told me that they were planning to write more music and I hope the touring is helping out with that process…I want to hear what’s next.
4. Warpaint – Exquisite Corpse
Warpaint create raw, psychedelic soundscapes with elements of shoegaze and dream pop. For the most part, their music doesn’t share the delicate qualities found in music from those genres though…there’s a strong skeleton in most of these songs that distances them from easy comparisons to other bands.
3. The Prodigy – Lost Beats
To all the haters that dissed me for not completely falling in love with the most recent Prodigy album: Suck it. As you can see, I still like their music when it’s good…and this 4-track EP is the best stuff they’ve released in a decade, with the possible exception of the “Wake The Fuck Up” white label, of course. The worst track on Lost Beats is “Fighter Beat” and it’s actually not too bad…one might even say “average.”
2. Metric – Plug In, Plug Out
I may have previously mentioned my love for all things Metric, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Plug In, Plug Out made this list. The acoustic versions of “Help I’m Alive” and “Gold Guns Girls” are both a step below their album counterparts, but only the former drops into so-so territory.
1. Carina Round – Things You Should Know
I almost missed this EP because (except for the physical copies that were sold at her live shows) it was only released digitally. I’ve been (what could conservatively be called) a massive fan of Carina Round since her 2004 album, The Disconnection and I’ve been waiting for new music for a couple years now. Five songs are much better than no songs, but I still want another full-length from her.