EPs are extended plays, if you didn’t know. They’ve been used to release songs that didn’t make it onto albums or short projects that didn’t flesh out enough tracks to become an album. But that doesn’t mean they’re lower quality than an album. I think they’re better, actually.
EPs set you up for success. When you’re only putting three or four, sometimes five songs on an EP; there’s no room for filler. Unless you’re literally putting down your outtakes, in that case you’re just being an asshole; unless you’re Kendrick. I prefer giving friends EPs instead of albums when introducing them to new artists just because the condensed time forces the artist to be at their best throughout. Weak tracks can’t be forgotten as easily when you’ve only got 12-15 minutes of space to fill and five tracks at most.
So I put together a list of some of my favorite EPs. Why? Fuck, I don’t know. I need content for my blog.
This list is unordered, but their quality is all great.
Lapalux: Some Other Time
The unorthodox drum sampling and heavy bell sounds made Lapalux debut a stand out when it was released in 2012, and the intro track is still as hypnotizing as it was then. The rising and falling action from Forgetting and Learning Again still hook the listener all the same. Lapalux hasn’t delivered the same quality since his original release; but there’s clearly talent exuding from this great piece.
Clams Casino: Rainforest
Clams Casino was at his peak when he released Rainforest in 2011. Drowning is a rare abstract piece for the producer that combined all of his intimate styles to create an experience instead of a banger. The remaining tracks build off exactly what the title says, the sounds of a rainforest. But through the lens of Clams moisture ridden production; the humidity, shadow-laced sunlight and tall trees are all felt through the music. If you could imagine an electronic rainforest, this is what it would sound like.
James Blake: CMYK
Before James Blake became the household at every family dinner table and your dogs were singing along to his latest hit records, he was putting out crazy RnB inspired electronica. CMYK is my favorite track Blake has ever released, and songs like Postpone showed the moody, abstract, and minimal approaches to come later in his career.
Elite Gymnastics: Ruin 1
The link is the compilation of Ruin 1 and Ruin 2, so only look at the first 6 tracks. Elite Gymnastics put together something that sounded like Japan, Consumerism, being alone on a friday night, and having a long distance crush. If not for some of the weaker tracks on it, this could’ve been a massive standout; but even so Here, In Heaven and Little Things are two fantastic tracks that carry most of the weight and make return appearances on your playlists.
No band that i’ve listened to in the modern day does what Whirr does on this EP as well as Whirr does it on this EP. A slow post-rock pace, 90’s quiet/loud songwriting, dreamyness, shoegaze influence; are basically all the adjectives I have to describe this. Beyond all else, Keep is an incredible song that forces you to feel the dread it outputs. There is no escaping the black hole this EP throws you into.
The Radio Dept: Never Follow Suit
The Radio Dept seemed like another noisy indie pop band until they released Clinging to a Scheme in early 2010. Thats when they fully embraced dub music and put together an inspired album that still had some leftover noisy-pop. However, near the end of the year, they put out this EP containing one track from the album (it bears the EP’s name) and three unreleased ones. What’s left is a fantastic mix of dub, indie pop, and butter. This EP is butter. It’s smooth and addicting.
Yumi Zouma: EP
I sorta lied about this being unranked. These last three EPs are by far the best of the group, and it starts with Yumi Zouma.
I don’t even know what to say about this, my obsession with it is abnormal.I listened to this at least 15 times the first day I heard it. I would hide this EP from a girlfriend, so she wouldn’t get jealous of how much attention I give it. I’m obsessed. Beautiful hooks, 70’s sound, soft mixing, caressing and fun lyrics; all of this is what i want in my pop. Yumi Zouma’s melodies are catchy and feel like a high school crush. They mastered the pre-chorus on tracks like Saika Gets Her Hopes Up and Riquelme, and forced every second to be meaningful on a perfect EP.
Iglooghost: Chinese Nu Year
Iglooghost really fucked up with this release. Just like Yumi Zouma, not a second of this EP goes to waste. And, again, Iglooghost really fucked up by creating an outstanding piece of art and putting it on a four track release that wouldn’t get the attention it deserves. Even worse, it sets everyone up for a disappointment because the only way his first album lives up to expectations is if it’s a bonafide classic. The amount of work Iglooghost must’ve put into getting all the unique sounds and samples reward the listener with a special experience of experimental dance and beat music. This is an audio version of Nintendo 64’s Banjo Kazooie; the songs (levels) aren’t that long and each one is filled with rich textures and extraordinary moments. The color displayed on this album is in opposition to current electronic tendencies towards of dark colors and moodiness; making it feel like the future. It’s special.
Burial: Rival Dealer
This is cheating, really. Burial doesn’t make EPs, he makes experiences. The tones, samples, story, meaning, and feelings that Burial gets on this zone you out. It’s not a release you can listen to in the midst of driving your car, this has to be something you are focused on to experience and enjoy. It’s been best on long train rides along the MTA’s B-Train while going home from class at 8pm and worrying about whether or not my degree will have any value in a decaying society. Hiders isn’t a piece of music, it’s raw emotion processed into audio.
Album or not, Rival Dealer is one of the releases i’ve ever heard. It’s definitely the best EP out there, and I don’t want to hear anyone tell me otherwise.