All too often in year end “best album” lists the almighty (but less lengthy) EP is left by the wayside. Well, EPs happen to be my favorite listening experience. I find when an artist releases an EP, or even a few of them, a year it leaves me wanting even more. You can explore different sonic landscapes across separate, smaller projects. It allows you to space out music across the year if you feel the need to, and as a smaller artist you may want to to keep relevant and on people’s radar…or in the cases of a few of our favorites it allows you the ability to put out music to shop to a label in a nice, small package, pay homage to songs from your favorite artists, collaborate or just get music out into the world faster without planning a larger release, writing 20 songs to whittle down to 12 or investing HUGE budgets into studio, production and release.
We love EPs, we love shorter length projects and 2016 was full of them. For the sake of this list, we are taking “EP” to mean a release from this year of 2-8 tunes, not quite a full length, but a collection of songs released this year (either officially as an EP or not) in short form. Here are a couple of our favorites.
Ron Gallo – RG3 : Perhaps a precursor for Gallo’s upcoming full length “Heavy Meta”, this quickfire collection of psycha-blues-rock n’ roll hit hard. With hard hitting guitar riffs, lyrics that cut deep into the plight of modern society’s weight holding us down and the singer-songwriter’s unforgettable and incredibly unique vocal holding it all together as the sonic hide glue, three songs could never be quite as heavy as Gallo is able to portray. There is just so much goddamn fervor and energy in his music, but still it maintains this melodic, catchy and infectious feeling that is undeniable. Rock n’ roll never sounded so good.
Aoife O’ Donovan & Anthony da Costa – Scarlet Harlot : Both O’ Donovan and da Costa landed on my favorite full length records list this year…and if I was making one, would be on my favorite shows of the year as well. The two emphasize and embody beauty in their voices and songs in a way that no other artists can really hit me. They perform together and its all over. Their release of two Dylan tunes, recorded separately as artists, but together in the fact that they were in the same place doing so, it was engineered by the same gent (Steve Nistor) and released together. The breath a life that is purely their own into these tributes to one of the bests of all time, from two of the modern day bests doing this music thing today.
The Novel Ideas – St. Paul Sessions : A perfect package for “session” projects or straight live recordings is an EP. In the case of The Novel Ideas, the main purpose was to capture the energy of their live performances in a recording and with the St. Paul Sessions, they succeeded and then some. The band is known for warm and rich harmonies, soaring vocals, acrobatic instrumentals and a general sublime beauty to their music that is transcendent. As with many performances, the venue in which you are playing or recording often times seeps into the outcome and the character of the old church that the band set up shop in certainly entrenches itself into the sound here. A timeless quality that is engrained into their sound but with knots and interesting bits that make it as endearing and compelling as charactered old wooden beams.
The Suitcase Junket – Dying Star : A similar notion infuses itself into Matt Lorenz’s follow up to 2015’s brilliant “Make Time”, the live element of an EP that made us love the previous entry. To see Lorenz perform live is to be amazed and the final two tracks on Dying Star breath and bleed that sentiment. The collection of 7 tunes continues the mesmerizing and potent percussive base that The Suitcase Junket has become known for. Lorenz’s guitars ring heavy and swampy. His knack for introducing lines and rhythms with his guitar work is beautiful and hearty, a generous amount of overdrive adding to the feeling and vibe of the music. Creating new from the old, giving life to the throw-aways…Lorenz continues to impress.