2007 recap: 10 EPs to hear

By • Dec 19th, 2007 • Category: Columns

Music packaging, just like the music itself, comes in waves of trends.

This year saw an influx in LP/EP one-two punches during the past 12 months. Artists such as Ryan Adams, Ween, Bright Eyes, New Young Pony Club and Babyshambles to name a few (to name a few more see Nos. 6, 8 and 9 on this list) released both a full-length record and an abbreviated EP during 2007.

For die-hard fans, EPs can serve as a layover until a next album. For collectors, however, it can be overwhelming to try and stay up with both full and partial releases. For plain ole music lovers, EPs can be a way to discover new artists without taking the financial leap and buying an whole album, or investing the time it night take to sit through about a dozen songs. For musicians, they can be a way to keep their name on the lips and sounds on the ears of the public during hiatuses between LPs, and a way to experiment with new directions.

This year, a little bit of all of that took place in this explosive crop of EPs.

So without further adieu … Ten EPs to hear from 2007

10. “Wizard of Ahhhs” (Self-released)
Black Kids
Released: Aug. 7

This Myspace-only-turned-download-exclussive release is a solid first step for the Florida quintet. Its dueling keyboards compensate nicely the lo-fi guitars and up-and-down vocal chants. At times it sounds like a 1980s soundtrack, and others it’s a quirky answer to those glossy pop songs from two decades ago.
Hear:“Hit The Heartbreaks” and “Hurricane Jane”

9. “Fluorescent Grey” (Kranky)
Released: May 8

Arguably more impressive than the LP three-month’s its senior, this follow-up EP takes the shoegazing art-rock band deeper down its experimental-pop path. And it’s going to need all the quality tunes it has to cleanse the music public’s pallet of the group’s universally panned performance at this summer’s Pitchfork Media Festival.
Hear: “Dr. Glass” and “Like New”

8. “Icons, Abstract Thee” (Polyvinyl)
Of Montreal
Released: May 8

As front man Kevin Barnes delves deeper into his world of layered blips and catchy quips, the Georgia band’s pop tendencies have grown stronger and less derivative of its Elephant 6 roots. This EP is no different, serving as a companion piece to this year’s full-length.
Hear: “No Conclussion” and “Voltaic Crusher/Undrum to Muted Da”

7. “Friend” (Warp)
Grizzly Bear
Released: Nov. 6

The nine-song release features a remix, three artists covering Grizzly Bear tunes, and five also-unreleased versions of odds-and-sods tracks. Yet the entirety of the EP feels much more cohesive than that description hints. It possesses the same soulful, dramatic structures as the band’s 2006 album, but with a combined chunkiness to the pensive, roughed up folk-fused rock’n'roll.
Hear: “Granny Diner” and “Knife” (Cover by CSS)

6. “Lon Gisland” (Ba Da Bing!)
Released: Jan. 30

A teenaged Zach Condon emerged as a nomadic, Eastern-European influenced storyteller on his debut. Yet, a year later, he returned with the same gypsy-lead clamor accompanied for the first time with a complete band. The result was the preface to this year’s stellar LP, and sounded exactly like what it was – a record by a guy who found himself while traveling Europe, and went back with a few friends tagging along.
Hear: “Elephant Gun” and “Carousels”

5. “Life Finds A Way” (Third World Industries)
Inspector Owl
Released: March 27

With sweeping melodies and catchy hooks that combine the baroque elements of violins and horns with the electronics of keyboards and effects pedals, the quintet has found a way to combine music’s grand future with its theatric past.
Hear:“Drive Yourself” and “Clever Girl”

4. “What The Hell Do I Know?” (Ace Fu)
Released: March 6

The complaint about this Pennsylvania ensemble is that it travels in too many directions on too few of songs. The praise, however, is that the act never is restricted and can, in fact, go in any direction. Critics are never pleased. So the glam-meets-bluegrass, hip-hop-meets-folk, indie-pop-meets-brit-rock whirlwind is never predictable … and never dull.
Hear:“Nosebleed” and “Screendoor”

3. “Smith” (Paper Bag)
Tokyo Police Club
Released: Oct. 30

The relatively new band’s most Strokes-sounding output to date, the Canadian band packs just a handful of tunes into this quick-hitting rock onslaught, complete with riding high-hats and circular guitar notes.
Hear: “Box” and “Cut Cut Paste”

2. “Sticking Fingers Into Socket” (Arts & Crafts)
Los Campesinos!
Released: July 3

As a sarcastic six-piece from Whales, the act splattered the U.K. shelves with a series of singles leading up to this EP and next year’s expected full-length. A fun-loving, pub band with gender-rotating lead vocals, the rock outfit somehow finds the melodies hidden at the bottom of each pint.
Hear: “We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives” and “Frontwards”

1. “Is Is” (Fantana/Interscope)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Released: July 24

The band’s follow-up to last year’s polarizing sophomore LP might have been better served if released between YYY albums. Combining the heaviness of the act’s debut, without the stop-on-a-time spasms that the group eliminated soon after, this heavy-yet-streamlined EP would have made that transition between full-lengths less jarring.
Hear:“Kiss Kiss” and “Isis”

Northwest Herald, Dec. 19, 2007

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