Friday, December 21, 2012

Top 15 EPs of 2012

Not only was 2012 a great year for full-length records, it was also a great year for EPs.  There were so many great albums and EPs that I knew I had to break them up into two separate lists. 

15.  Kicker EP by The Longshots
Kicker is a two song EP is catchy as hell lo-fi, surfy, garage rock.  This band is really, really good and I hope they put out a full-length album in 2013.

14.  Heavy Heart by Dave Hause
As a bit of a follow up to his 2011 solo debut Resolutions, Dave Hause released five seven inch EPs with five different record labels.  Each EP would include two songs from Resolutions, re-recorded and reworked, and covers of two songs that were originally released by each label.  The Heavy Heart EP was released on Jade Tree records and included the songs "Heavy Heart" and "Rankers & Rotters" from Resolutions and cover's of The Promise Ring's "Skips a Beat (Over You)" and Jet to Brazil's "Psalm."  My favorite moments are the acoustic stripped down rendition of "Rankers & Rotters" and the electric guitar and vocals take on "Skips a Beat (Over You)" which reminds me a lot of early Billy Bragg. 

13.  Here Comes My Man / Hold You Up by The Gaslight Anthem
Released as the Black Friday Record Store Day seven inch Hold You Up in the United States and as the Here Comes My Man EP in Europe, this EP includes three beautifully dark acoustic songs (including a Bon Iver cover) that are very reminiscent of Brian Fallon's work in The Horrible Crows. 

12. Let It Show by The Radio Reds
The Radio Reds are a fantastic band that has taken elements of post-hardcore, punk, indie rock, and college rock “creating a sound that is as unique and diverse as it is familiar.”  I think I summed this EP up best in my original review –
The Radio Reds is a band for fans with a discerning ear.  Let It Show is not the kind of record that is easy to suss out, but that is one of the things that makes it so good.  Like a great meal, this is the kind of record that needs to be savored and taken in slowly.  Multiple listens may be required before the full weight of what is going on here will sink in, but it is well worth the effort.  Not everything in life should be easy and that includes music.  The Radio Reds knows their music history and thus asks a lot of the listener, but believe me it’s worth it.   

11.  In the Valley by Great Cynics
Great Cynics followed up 2011's excellent Don't Need Much with the even better In the Valley EP.  Perfectly mixing elements of '09s indie rock and pop punk, Great Cynics is among a group of young bands that have been able to create great music that is nostalgic and fresh all at the same time.  Fans of newer bands like Cheap Girls, The Thermals, Broadcaster, and Candy Hearts as well as classic bands like Buffalo Tom, Superchunk, and Sebadoh, need to give Great Cynics a listen.

10.  Crossing Canyons by The Stereo State
The Stereo State’s Crossing Canyons EP is six songs “of melodic punk rock anthems with big hooks and bigger choruses.”  This band mixes elements of melodic hardcore, pop punk, post hardcore, and ’77 style punk beautifully, creating a sound that should appeal to a wide range of fans.

9.  The Librarians are Hiding Something by Swingin’ Utters
After returning with their first full-length in eight years with 2011's Here Under Protest, the Utters show no signs of slowing down with The Librarians are Hiding Something EP and a new full-length in 2013.  This EP is quintessential and classic Swingin' Utters and a must for fans of the band.

8.  I Just Want to Play Living Rooms by Scrap Kids
Scrap Kids, a.k.a. CurwensvillePA’s Lawson David Bloom, is an excellent one-man folk punk/ska project.  What makes Scrap Kids stand out is Bloom’s ability to “write songs that are obviously social commentary numbers, but he makes them personal and timeless thus letting the message slip in unnoticed.” 

7.  Tightrope Walker by Broadcaster
One of my favorite releases of 2011 was Broadcaster's Joyride.  The band followed up that excellent EP with the equally as good Tightrope Walker.  This EP is three extremely catchy songs that mix '90s indie rock with pop punk (along the same lines as Great Cynics, Candy Hearts, Cheap Girls, and The Thermals).  Broadcaster is certainly a band to watch.

6.  She’s An Alarm by One Man Army
One Man Army's return after parting ways back in 2005 sounds exactly like one (or at least I) would expect.  Jack Dalrymple’s songwriting has evolved beautifully over the years from basic Stiff Little Fingers/Swingin' Utters influence punk to a complex brand of punk that mixes elements from several different punk sub-genres and indie rock.  Needless to say, this is great stuff.

5.  45 db. by The Radio Reds / The Nondenoms
45 db. is simply put, one of the best split EPs to come out in years.  Both The Radio Reds and The Nondemons are bands that blend a variety of influences, styles, and sub-genres and “mash them all up to create sounds that are fresh and reminiscent all at the same time.” 

4.  Too Many Babes by Jabber
Jabber is a killer new pop punk band.  These songs are simple, ridiculously catchy, and fun as heck!  This EP is a must for pop punk fans.

3.  The Best Ways to Disappear by Candy Hearts
Like Great Cynics and Broadcaster, Candy Hearts is one of the fantastic young bands that make nostalgia for the 1990s sound fresh and new.  To date, Candy Hearts have yet to release anything that isn't great and The Best Ways to Disappear is no different. 

2.  Geri by Tow Cow Garage
Two Cow Garage's contribution to the Black Friday Record Store Day releases is nothing short of rock 'n' roll perfection.  Seriously, this EP is that freaking good.  Just go out and get it.  You'll thank me later.

1.  Higley by Higley
Higley is a bit of a punk rock super group boasting Bill Stevenson from ALL and Descendents on drums and Kris Roe from The Ataris on vocals.  The band's first release isn't really a proper EP as much as it is two songs that the band has made available through BandCamp.  Both songs are epic punk rock anthems, especially the unbelievably fantastic "That's Not Me."  I really hope that these songs are only the beginning because Higley has the potential to be one of punk's classic acts. 

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