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The Top EPs of 2011

By ; December 12, 2011 at 12:00 AM 

You can listen to these EPs at this Spotify playlist (or, at least, the seven that are on Spotify)


05.

PAPA

A Good Woman Is Hard To Find

[Psychedelic Judaism / Hit City]

“I wanna know / I’ve got to see / if I’m wrong,” go the opening lines to PAPA’s debut release A Good Woman Is Hard To Find, and thus they were introduced to the world, wide-eyed and curious, eager to hear and be heard. PAPA’s debut release is a shockingly well-rounded, mature and enjoyable release. From the passion in the vocals to the way they seem to always have an ear-worm of a guitar line that wiggles its way into their melodies, this band seems to have already figured out how to best express themselves musically. While the EP’s themes are overtly sexual (the title and track names like “Let’s Get You Pregnant” can attest to this) the point of PAPA’s music is to express the joy that can be found in that special relationship between a man and a woman. They manage to capture this perfectly on all five of the release’s tracks, making this one of the most noteworthy debut releases of the year.

Rob Hakimian


04.

Alex Turner

Submarine OST

[Domino]

Where some early releases in the year get forgotten and don’t quite live up to what you remembered, Alex Turner’s Submarine has stayed firmly put, for one or two reasons: it’s the closest to perfect an EP could get, and two, it’s the soundtrack for this year’s best, critically acclaimed and award winning independent film, Submarine. It’s also uncanny how much he looks like the main character, Oliver. The EP’s sound fits comfortably in scenes of longing, teenage shortcomings and philosophical meanderings. It’s so easy to accompany a teenage movie with ‘relevant’ music at the time, but by Richard Ayoade asking Turner to create his own take on the movie essentially, it makes it that more special to listen to, with or without the context of the movie. This successful solo direction for Alex Turner has shown that he’s one of the most respected songwriters of this generation and provides a stark contrast from the brash and slightly cocky Suck It and See.

Aurora Mitchell


03.

Burial

Street Halo

[Hyperdub]

There’s not an artist these days that gets name checked for comparison’s sake more often than Burial. The effect of Untrue on the greater indie music landscape is as widespread as Radiohead and The Weeknd, and we can’t go a week without an album out of the bass scene that isn’t at least indirectly measured against Burial’s crackling urban atmospheres, warped vocal melodies, and woodblock 2-step (“watershed” doesn’t begin to describe Untrue’s impact). Yet, Burial’s own material is still revelatory, which is made perfectly clear by Street Halo, the first significant standalone solo work from the B-man since Untrue in ’07. Each of Street Halo’s three songs has its own distinct atmosphere with the title track’s clicking 4/4 pulse pushing things into dance territory, “NYC” redefining even Burial’s sense of loneliness, and “Stolen Dog” expelling almost blown out emotional grandeur. Perhaps most importantly though, there’s obvious growth in Burial’s approach while still managing to reassert his signatory elements. These tracks are lengthier and more exploratory than anything found on Untrue, pointing toward a future still full of vivid, untapped potential.

Will Ryan


02.

Clams Casino

Rainforest

[Tri Angle]

The emerging cloud rap scene has to be one of the weirder ones to place itself at the forefront of the indie consciousness, and the whole scene places its roots in the productions that Clams Casino has put out over the last couple of years with Lil B and Soulja Boy. Early on this year, he put out a large majority of these beats on his Instrumental Mixtape, but midyear saw a fully realized collection of works that Clams could call entirely his own. Though Instrumentals was immediate and rewarding, it was apparent, on the second half of the album in particular, that these were first and foremost productions for other artists that happened to sit well on their own. Rainforest suffers no such problems. Tracks like “Gorilla” swell and build entirely on their own merit at no point seeming empty, repetitive, or otherwise begging for vocals. It was here that Clams Casino proved that while he may be a highly in demand rap producer, his compositions are much bigger than simply instrumentals for the next blog rapper to stumble all over.

Colin Joyce


01.

Jens Lekman

An Argument With Myself

[Secretly Canadian]

By the time Jens Lekman released An Argument With Myself in September, it had been more than four years since the Swedish singer’s last release and fans of his were starved for heavily orchestrated and quirkily-worked tunes he is famous for. Luckily, the EP delivered on expectations, while apparently being a collection of songs that would not fit on Lekman’s next full length. And while we don’t know what direction Lekman’s next turn will take him, the five tracks contained on the EP do not sound like throwaways or experiments. They sound, well, like the Jens Lekman we know and love. The title track bounces cleverly through a schizophrenic night out, finding the singer take an internal disagreement to fisticuffs (“why are you hitting yourself?”). “Waiting For Kirsten” is equally easy on the ears, and even more clever in its humorous musings on a visit to Gothenburg by Kirsten Dunst and the feelings of social angst that it brought out. It’s actually heavy stuff, but Lekman never hits his listeners over the head, which is why this collection will probably prove as enduring as his previous albums. When you have the talent of Jens Lekman, a little goes a long way, making this EP a highlight in a strong year for EPs.

Philip Cosores

[10-06][05-01]


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