Ah, the Extended Player, meatier than the single, more concise than the full-length. Whether as a stop-gap between albums, a medium for collaboration, or as an introductory work, the EP remains relevant, perhaps all the more with an increasingly ADHD-inflicted generation of music listeners. Whatever it is, we love them too, so here are some of our favorites.
Bart & Friends – Make You Blush (Lost and Lonesome)
A set of unexpected new material from twee-pop stalwart Bart Cummings (Cat’s Miaow, the Shapiros), and it’s wonderful that he brought a few of his old friends along (notably Pam Berry) for the occasion. Make You Blush, eight songs of pop wonderment that altogether clock in at less than 15 minutes, is entrancing music calibrated for life’s miniature moments that are no less significant. - Keith.
Dirty Projectors + Björk – Mount Wittenberg Orca (Self Released)
Even though this sounds more like a Dirty Projectors work than a Björk one (it was written by Dave Longstreth after all), we hear a tidy contribution from all parties, particularly their voices which are distilled with delightful clarity. Because of how distinctive both parties already are, nothing really new emerges from this collaboration but for the not-too-surprising affirmation that yeah, they do sound great together. - Dan.
Forest Swords – Dagger Paths (Olde English Spelling Bee)
Strains of paranoia echo throughout Dagger Paths, the mesmerizing debut release of one-man electronic outfit Forest Swords. The operative word here is “atmospheric”, as this hazy British coastal-jam music conjures up the fractured moods and alienating drones that are strictly the domain of midnight sonic strategists. - Keith.
Funeral For A Friend – The Young And Defenceless (Join Us)
I’d been eagerly anticipating listening to a Funeral For A Friend effort that would take me back to their much heavier discography from earlier years. Well, the Welsh boys have delivered, and the familiar palm-muted, double kicking post-core sound of yesteryear returns with enough decibels to induce aneurism. - Brian.
Girls – Broken Dreams Club (True Panther)
“I just want to get high, but everyone keeps bringing me down”, Christopher Owens sighs on the title track of Girls‘ follow up to their lo-fi debut Album. While dealing with same themes of unavoidable heartbreak, this EP cleans up the sloppy mess they’d left on the floor from that previous outing. They’re careful, though, not to overdo it, opting this time for an elegantly wasted confessional that remains no less vulnerable and broken. - Dan.
James Blake – CMYK (R&S)
Even if you missed The Bells Sketch earlier in 2010, James Blake‘s subsequent EP must have caught your attention. Set to an airy atmospheric, CMYK twists and chops its way into your subconscious, picking out fragments of stuff you’re sure you’ve heard before in some distant past before morphing and piecing them together in a stunningly new configuration. Wow. - Dan.
James Blake – Klavierwerke (R&S)
Siren voices hold sway over James Blake’s Klavierwerke, German for “piano works” and the most fully realized of the three EPs released by the prolific 22-year-old British electronic composer in 201o, his masterful manipulation of his own vocals (dude can fucking sing, by the way) matching the seams of shape-shifting music noir. Elegant centerpiece “I Only Know (What I Know Now)” is the main draw here with its moody electronics that uncannily evokes the warped sensation of being caught inside a bell jar, lending a ghostly ambience that reverberates throughout this four-song EP. - Keith.
The Jezabels – Dark Storm (Self Released)
I first heard their music on a short film Way Back Home that featured stunt biker Danny MacAskill. The Jezabels are gifted with writing music that grips you at first listen. They hold nothing back on this EP, and sail with you across vast oceans of thrilling delayed guitars and Hayley Mary’s haunting falsettos. - Brian.
Tanlines – Settings (True Panther)
I didn’t think much about this debut EP from Tanlines when it first came out, but with every accidental listen, I’ve been finding myself loving it more and more. Suited mostly for the tropics, as I’m sure the outfit’s name suggests, Settings in all its joyous production makes for really fun, uplifting listening. - Dan.
mp3: Tanlines – Real Life
The Tallest Man on Earth – Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird (Dead Oceans)
The songs on this EP sound raw and stripped to its core, but always fully realised with Kristian Mattson‘s jarringly heartfelt vocals taking centerstage. It’s a fittingly stark treatment that demonstrates the strength of the songwriting, which shows itself to be rich though never bloated in imagery, introspective yet piercing. - Dan.