Oft lost in the great “best albums of the year” rush are EPs, those unimposing 18-minute-or-so releases that artists release between albums, to try stuff out or to unload extra songs. While you don’t get the whole enchilada of a full-album statement, EPs are like a great appetizer that leave you wanting more, and 2013 was full of delicious bloomin’ onions. Here are 10 that I liked, in no particular order.
William Emmanuel Bevan makes the kind of music Thom Yorke dreams about, dark, brooding electronic music that blends subgenres like dubstep (the good kind) while sounding like its own thing, future-seeking yet emotional and grimy. He hasn’t had a full-length album since 2007’s great Untrue, but he released several EPs this year, including the recent Rival Dealer 12” and, earlier this year, this release of two 10-plus-minute tracks, the first entrancing and inviting, the second morose and restless.
Best Coast shed some of the sheen of their second album and reclaimed the scrappy energy of their first on this seven-song release, their first on frontwoman Bethany Cosentino’s new Jewel City label.
Terrific sad-girl R&B songs with stellar production from Blood Orange. Though big sister Beyonce made a grand statement with her recent record-shattering album/video release, many of us regard this small, stellar release just as fondly.
Parquet Courts wrap their banner year of widely releasing their excellent debut album with this release of outtakes from their upcoming next album, featuring more witty, highwire indie rock, Fall-ish funk and the best white-boy rapping since Beck ditched his hunter’s cap. Ready my interview with the band here.
Though Wild Nothing’s reverbed, romantic pop sound is pretty solidified, he’s had intriguingly different non-album releases, like the excellent, jangly “Nowhere” single and Golden Haze EP, and now this one, which ventures into new-wave (“The Body in Rainfall”) and warped synth-funk (“A Dancing Shell”).
Released late in the year, Dan Bejar’s typically excellent Destroyer project returned with a set of five covers of songs by Spanish songwriter Antonio Luque of the band Sr. Chinarro. It’s got some of the best gringo Spanish performances since Eydie Gorme teamed up with Los Panchos, covering stomping rock en espanol (“El rito”), jangly Carribean rhythms (“Babieca”) and lilting Spanish ballads (“Bye bye”) while still sounding like Destroyer.
While The Flaming Lips’ The Terror was pretty divisively bleak, the five-song Peace Sword EP, inspired by Ender’s Game and its film adaptation, calls to mind the stratospheric, sci-fi-flavored pop of classic releases like Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
Abe Vigoda guitarist Juan Velasquez’s new band makes romantic guitar pop aided by vintage drum machines, brittle guitars and dreamy melodies. Look for it in the new CD section. And look for Abe Vigoda frontman Michael Vidal’s Dream Center tape too!
The alt-soul performer casts a bewitching spell on songs like the dramatic “Waiting Game.” Released digitally this year, you can preorder the CD (due Jan. 7) here, and a full-length is due next year as well.
As sexy as it is mystifying, FKA Twigs’ second EP boasts the breathy, sultry vocals of Twigs and the mindbending production of Arca, who also worked on one of the best full-length albums of the year, Kanye West’s Yeezus.
Become a fan of PST!