An EP, or Extended Play, is the sweet spot between a full album and a single. Typically between 10 and 25 minutes, although what has come to define the difference between EPs and LPs can sometimes be blurred. Usually EPs get a bad rap, as it carries with it connotations of being “less-than” and not good enough to be a proper album, but I like seeing variations in the art medium. There are EPs like Alice In Chains’ Jar Of Flies and Radiohead‘s Airbag/How Am I Driving? that beat most full lengths. Also, EPs afford an artist the chance to showcase things that don’t fit in the context of a larger piece of work, or explore a different sound without moving fully in that direction. Anyways, I’d take an EP of nothing but the goodness over a full-length comprised mostly of filler surrounding a few good songs any day.
In 2007 I actually heard many great EPs. A few of which I’ll give honorable mentions that just missed this list that are worth-while include Joanna Newsom And The Ys Street Band, Vampire Weekend, and Black Kids‘ Wizard Of Ahhhs, of which I’ve come around a little bit on now that I’ve listened to it more. Here are the 10 most essential short-length albums of 2007:
10. Animal Collective : People
This EP feels more like a single, but the title song is so good that it makes this short release something special. The two songs that lie between the studio and live versions of “People” are both really cool too. People was the prologue to a banner year for the Collective.
9. Illinois : What The Hell Do I Know?
A collection of simple songs that touch on everyone from The Flaming Lips, to Beck, to Wilco in sound. There is nothing groundbreaking on this seven track collection, but Illinois do what they do well, and that’s write some really sweet jams. I’m excited to see what this Pennsylvania band will do next.
8. Elevado : This World Is On Fire
On the bigger and longer side of the EP spectrum, Atlanta’s own Elevado put forth one of the better local releases of the year. This self-produced effort bounces around stylistically while retaining a very connected whole piece of work. Standout songs like”Postcard From Four Walls Down”, “Song of A Purple Man”, and my favourite, the early-Floydy “Hypnopaedic Sunshine”, kick ass and anchor this sonic journey.
7. Parade : Answer Me
I’ve found over the course of the year that every time I revisit Answer Me I fall in love with a different song. It seems no matter what mood or state of mind in, something on this 5 track release speaks to me. Parade are one my favourite bands in Atlanta and if you read this blog, they are mandatory listening.
6. Deerhunter : Fluorescent Grey
The local hype-monsters followed up the epic Cryptograms with this four song EP, of which the two pieces are inextricably linked and many are treating the two as one whole. I tend to treat Fluorescent Grey as Deerhunter in its most accessible and “poppy”, which they also do really, really well, and more a short sequel. Either way, it’s over 16 minutes of pure gold.
5. Plants And Animals : With/Avec
I’ve just recently gotten hip to this Montreal group and have fallen in love with this EP. At 4 songs and 25 minutes, this band can jam with the best of them while never ambling to something that doesn’t feel deliberate. They do rootsy yet epic folk soundscapes that remind me of Jim O’Rourke, Sufjan Stevens, The Grateful Dead and Jeff Buckley at times, and make this release feel bigger than a full-length as you immerse yourself in it.
4. Porcupine Tree : Nil Recurring
This 28 minutes-plus spanning prog-jam fest is a collection of 4 songs from the Fear Of A Blank Planet recording session. I tend to treat it as an epilogue to FOABP, mostly because i like the ending to Nil Recurring better. It has guest stars like King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp and FOABP songs completely redone into new songs. If you have yet to look into this band, now is the time.
3. Portugal. The Man : It’s Complicated Being A Wizard
Before going in a blues-rock direction with Church Mouth, Portugal. The Man released this electronically driven piece of work, comprised of a first 23-minute song and then followed by the same song broken up into a track for each movement, creating an endless loop of music. In addition to the gimmick of the EP’s structure is some of the best tunes this young and talented Alaskan outfit have done. Don’t overlook this album.
2. Grizzly Bear : Friend
Grizzly Bear‘s follow-up to last year’s mind-blowing Yellow House is longer than many full albums and packed full of redone songs, unreleased gems, and guest appearances from all sorts of indie superstars, most notably to us ATLiens is Deerhunter‘s Bradford Cox (Atlas Sound). Despite the jumbled mess of sources, the album itself is a fairly cohesive listen and musically it is top-notch. With this latest installment, this band is fast becoming one of my favourite of the decade.
EP Of The Year:
Moorish Idols : Moorish Idols
At less than 17 minutes, Moorish Idols make the most of it in their debut release, just pure sonic euphoria from start to finish. Lyrically the stories and characters pull you into a beautiful piece of work that is an aesthetically pleasing experience on every level. While the sound is fairly conservative relative to most of what I love, they do what they do perfectly, and it’s hard for me to think of a four song succession from this year that I enjoy more. I’m looking forward to seeing what these guys do with the vast amount of potential they possess.
- Posted by Davy Minor on December 25, 2007 at 10:49 pm