Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top 10 EPs of 2010

Ahhhh yes, lists.  People love them, and people hate them.  The greatest thing about creating a list is that it's extremely rare for any two people to agree on the exact same one, they're all unique.  This is demonstrated by some of the comments I see directed towards some "Top 10" rankings on sites like Pitchfork or Drowned In Sound.  They can be so hateful and so seething; readers literally become offended when their choices aren't picked.  Someone's picks can become so personal that their list, in a sense, becomes a representation of their musical self...and any disagreement cuts to their core.  At first, I'll admit, I was worried about getting caught up in all of the "end of the year" hoopla, but with some encouragement from readers to deviate my mind from potential controversy, I decided to just go through with it.  So alas, today I will post my favorite EPs from 2010.  At some point in the upcoming days I will also post my favorite albums, as well as a collection of my favorite songs to wind down a great music year. Some may like it, and others will disagree.  Either way, I hope you take some entertainment in reading it.  So without further ado, here is my top 10 EPs of this past year...

Honorable Mentions
Broken Dreams Club by Girls
North Dorm by Evenings
Young by Summer Camp
Beach Dreams by Teen Daze
Horse Power by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

10.  With Emperor Antarctica by Boy & Bear
When I was first turned on to Boy & Bear, I heard constant comparisons to Fleet Foxes. This association is definitely appropriate; both have an airy folk ambiance and utilize ethereal vocal harmonies, which at some points sound identical.  The one major distinction I see between the two is that there are segments of Boy & Bear tracks that are edgier and more electric than Fleet Foxes.  Overall, it's a great debut, and I can't wait to see what happens when they release a full album.

9.  Settings by Tanlines
When I interviewed NazcarNation earlier this year, one of their band members mentioned that they're all about the "donut holes rather than donuts" approach.  What this signifies is that as a band, they'd rather release their songs in small doses; this includes EPs, singles, and remixes....but not a full album.  Tanlines follows this methodology.  Settings is another EP in a group of remixes, compilations, and singles from the group, and it's a damn good one.  I first heard about it in the summer, which was perfect timing since the whole EP is an uplifting synth collection of tropical pop beats.  When I first heard it, my mind headed straight toward the Caribbean.  Now, whenever I decide to re-listen, I am put into one of my happy places.  So for that, I thank you Tanlines.
 Policy Of Trust by Tanlines

8.  Surf Noir by Beat Connection
How could I not be tempted to listen to an EP that combines the title of Surf Noir with cover that looks as summery and beautiful as the picture above?  Throughout the year I had been drawn into listening to the EP, having seen it pop up here and there on multiple sites to good reviews.  What I found was a band that sounded a lot like Air France, an electropop outfit complete with lush melodies and the idea of sand underneath their feet.  Perhaps the EP can best be described as if Air France decided to take a more...dare I say it..."chillwave" approach?  I'll take it.
 In the Water by Beat Connection

7.  The Years by Memoryhouse
The Years was a bit of a late-bloomer for me.  Released in early January of 2010, I actually didn't hear any of it until early November.  So if my calculus class taught me anything this year, that's about 10 months late.  Just a litttllee tardy.  It didn't take me long at all to get into their dreamy haze, though, and "Sleep Patterns" quickly became a consistent late-night jam.  It all comes together very well; ethereal synths, fuzzy guitars, and the beautiful angelic voice of Denise Nouvion.
 Sleep Patterns by Memoryhouse

6.  Color Your Life by Twin Sister
Color Your Life can be a little tough to categorize since they play such a broad spectrum.  A lot of the tracks have a lo-fi tinged sound to them, and at parts can be classified as psychedelic.  Some people would probably just be content with calling it indie pop.  But perhaps their diversity is best exemplified in their song "Galaxy Plateau", which is a long 6-minute ambient drone ballad that is decked out in crazy reverb. Someone who first recommended it told me I'd like the EP if I wanted "to hear what Stereolab would be like if they were more soothing", which may just be my favorite way of hearing it described.
 Lady Daydream by Twin Sister

5.  Static On the Wire by Holy Ghost!
I absolutely love it when a band chooses a great opening act.  In all honesty, I owe my awesome introduction to Holy Ghost! to the one and only LCD Soundsystem.  When I saw LCD at Terminal 5 this May, Holy Ghost! was their chosen opener.  It was love at first site, and a perfect choice.  The heavily layered and disco-injected EP has some of the catchiest hooks and best dance beats of the year.  They were a great warm up to LCD, putting on a wonderfully energetic show.  It was also a great warm up to Static On the Wire, which promptly became a favorite.
 Static On The Wire by Holy Ghost!

One of my good friends recently asked me what I do after I get home from a night out. She texted me saying that she "knew I couldn't be with my friends hanging in the treehouse relaxing and listening to rock 'n' roll music" because it was too cold outside.  Before I could respond, she sent me a text saying "...or chillwave music in your case".  It's not a tag I'm offended by, but it's a distinction that can't come without a mention of Teen Daze.  Four More Years first helped me realize the growing chillwave movement that happened this year, and quite honestly may have been the release that launched my own personal enjoyment of chillwave (and spawned my love for artists like Washed Out and Toro Y Moi).  In the end, many of the songs on the 8-track EP became anthems for many of my best summer moments this year.  And the more I think of it...wasn't that the goal?  Didn't he want to engulf me in a comforting blanket of hazy nostalgia?  I certainly like to think so.
 Neon by Teen Daze

3.  Golden Haze by Wild Nothing
Anyone who has been reading this site frequently probably gets the friggen point already: the kid who keeps up this blog really likes Wild Nothing.  I have already written about them specifically, as well as referring to him regularly on a variety of other posts. Yet, here Jack Tatum of Wild Nothing gets another call out with his Golden Haze.  Upon listening to his debut album, one of my favorites of the year (which you will probably be hearing about in the upcoming days...hint hint), I was craving more of what he had to offer.  I found Golden Haze to be the perfect dessert to Tatum's main course.  His mix of dream and jangle pop became a perfect channel to his '80s influence, where he also found ways to dabble in his knowledge of "new wave" music.  So do I like Wild Nothing? Yes.  I love it.
 Golden Haze by Wild Nothing

2.  Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird by The Tallest Man on Earth
Kristian Matsson had a pretty great year.  Starting with the critically acclaimed album The Wild Hunt in April, he followed up with this fantastic EP in September.  To my surprise, I actually enjoyed this EP more than the album.  On this release, I feel like Matsson really shows off his raw talent as a magnificent songwriter.  His honest lyrics and Dylan-esque voice call out to the listener, reel you in, and aid in evoking some sort of subconscious emotions.  His guitar work is also fabulous; at times he is just picking away to the point that it sounds like an orchestra of three or four guitars instead of one lone musician.  At other times his poor guitar is strummed so vigorously and with such passion.  I also love Matsson's experiment with "The Dreamer", the only electric song in his set.
 The Dreamer by The Tallest Man on Earth

1.  RIPJDS by Bikini
Bikini is a group that came out of no where for me.  It was the most random of finds on the most random of websites, a band I figured I'd give a listen to for shits and giggles.  I couldn't be more happy that I haphazardly wandered into them, for my kryptonite is bands just like Bikini; present day uptempo electro/synth pop (hence my love of Crystal Castles, Passion Pit, and the holy grail Cut Copy).  Bikini has beautifully contrived beats with some of the most addicting riffs and melodies I've listened to in a long time.  I also feel like Bikini is a great representation of where the music scene is today.  There are a few bands that just seem to "get it", who really have an idea of what people want. Judging by how quickly Bikini exploded onto the scene, I like to think that they're an example of one of those bands.  Catchy, refreshing, and experimental all at the same time.  Just brilliant.
 American Mourning by Bikini

More to come soon!  Thanks for tuning in.

No comments:

Post a Comment