It’s time to reflect on some of the great music of the past year. We’ve heard a lot of great albums and singles, making it difficult to narrow our list down to just a handful of great efforts. That said, we’re going to try. We start our look back at 2015 with listing our Favorite EPs of the Year. We’ve identified 20 great EPs, ten of which we share with you today. Check back tomorrow for the next ten.
As always, the list is in alphabetical order.
Bloodhounds On My Trail – Escape II
Over the past two, three years, we’ve witnessed the revival of shoegaze. Numerous bands are now focused on recreating the spatial sound of the ’70s while countless others incorporate the genre into their music. Very few, however, have been able to create a shoegaze sound that is breathtakingly delirious like what Melbourne-based Bloodhounds On My Trail have achieved on Escape II. The five songs on the EP are sensational – from the lush “Jolly” to the cascading guitars of “Old Fools”. As stated earlier this month, this is an album that must be heard and a band that must be discovered. ~~~Ben
Cat Bear Tree – Settled In Our Hearts
We were super excited to share Cat Bear Tree’s awesome single from their newest EP, “Adult” earlier this year which later followed with a review of the EP which has Cat Bear Tree poised to bring back the riot grrrl movement or just be known as a kick-ass female trio. London based Cat Bear Tree iscomprised of Zoe Konez, Claudia Mansaray and Sara Smith. We only feel it’s a matter of time before their music lands in the right hands and they could be on their way to exposure to a much wider audience which would be well deserved. ~~Wendy
Cloves – XIII
When we heard Cloves‘ debut single, “Frail Love“, back in June, we were blown away. The 19-year old native of Melbourne mesmerized us with her smokey, unforgettable voice and the maturity of her songwriting. She teased us with a couple of more singles before finally releasing her debut EP, XIII. It’s a stunning compilation of four endearing and tender songs, highlighted by the captivating “Everybody’s Son” and the aforementioned “Frail Love”. She’s an artist to watch in 2016 and beyond. She is, as we mentioned back in November, the next great singer-songwriter, a name that will one day be mentioned in the same breath as Adele. ~~ Ben
Controller – No Future
New York based Controller have packed everything into their newest EP. There are 5 awesome indie pop-rock tracks similar to now mainstream Walk The Moon. The guys (Jon, Josh, Brian, Kyle & Keith) still don’t take themselves too seriously, they have fun with their lyrics and sound which immediately makes you like them even more. With No Future only being their sophomore effort as a band, we really look forward to hearing more from Controller. They do have all the right ingredients to move from your favorite indie pop band you keep telling all your friends about to one that you eventually hear on the radio. ~~Wendy
Day Wave – Headcase
It’s easy to tell that Jackson Phillips, the man behind Day Wave, is a California native: he makes deliciously sun-drenched dream-pop that transports you to the beach as soon as you hear it. Every song on Headcase breathes vitality and hopeful energy. It’s buoyant and bright, crafted with balanced layers of synth and percussion that serve as an audio substitute for vitamin D. On those dreary days when you just can’t get going (or when your morning caffeine buzz has worn off), a quick spin of his self-released debut EP gets you back in the groove. ~~Hollie
Diet Cig – Over Easy
Diet Cig may have been the stars of this year’s CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. They brought uncontainable energy into small spaces, which may be a perfect way to describe the two-piece band as a whole. On Over Easy, singer Alex Luciano sings about adolescence in a small town with unfiltered lyrics like “I’m sick of hearing about your band” in “Scene Sick”. The band treads a line between punk rock chaos and singer-songwriter honesty. In the final track, “Harvard”, Luciano sings about a lover who left for a college girlfriend and tells them “Fuck your Ivy League sweater!” ~~Rich
Esther Joy Lane – Esther Joy Lane
There is a calm confidence in Esther Joy Lane‘s music, but it wasn’t always the case. While she had dreams of being a musician, she didn’t pursue the career for years and it took a chance encounter with GarageBand to convince her music was her future. She’s received strong endorsements from the BBC, and we’ve been big fans of her. Earlier this year, she was a hidden gem and that was followed by the release of her remarkable, self-titled, debut EP. While the stuttering alt-electro-folk of her album is gorgeous, such as on “Travelling Light” and “You Know”, it is her deep, stunning voice that grabs hold of you. In such a short time, Lane has come a long way, and only mass popularity awaits her. ~~Ben
Fickle Friends – Velvet
Fickle Friends is your go-to band for sweet and dreamy indie pop. Velvet is a great EP with 5 solid tracks to keep you wanting more. The Brighton based band has been one I have been waiting to see in Austin at SXSW. They have been previously announced for the festival but never quite made the trip.The good news is they will be making the trip in 2016 to SXSW, and they just recently signed to Universal. We suspect we will be hearing much more from Fickle Friends. Ever since their infectious track “Swim” came out in 2014 on soundcloud (which has over 900k plays now), it was time to keep tabs on Natti, Sam, Harry, Chris and Wilson. We are pretty sure 2016 will be their year. ~~Wendy
Hailey Wojcik – Book of Beasts
Hailey Wojcik’s Book of Beasts is five tracks of witty, strange, rocking music. Wojcik recorded much of the record on her own, and completed it with the help of drummer Brian Viglione of The Dresden Dolls and Violent Femmes. We were hooked from the first track we heard on this EP, “XO, Skeleton“, add in the unique tracks “Dog V. Man” and “Cigarette”, and the hand-clap and bell-driven rhythm of “Prosimian” and it’s a really fun ride. The EP comes to a close with “East Coast”, a heartfelt breakup track with just the right amount of fuzz and some of the best lyrics of the year: “When I try to write songs about someone else, they always seem to circle home to you“. ~~Rich
Júníus Meyvant – Júníus Meyvant
My favourite EP of 2015 came from the stirring, soulful folk anthems of Icelandic artist Júníus Meyvant. From the gentle strings that usher in “Color Decay” to the triumphant horns that swell later in the song, each note echoes genuine joy. The same goes for the string-heavy “Hailslide” that is guaranteed to make you sway. Ever since this EP came out in July, I’ve spent many a happy moment dancing to these four beautifully orchestrated songs. The vocals of Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson hearken to both his folk/soul forebears (Van Morrison, Wilson Pickett) and contemporaries (Glen Hansard, Ray LaMontagne), but his sound is so fresh and original that it deserves its own genre. However his music is labeled, I look forward to hearing more “Arctic Soul” from this performer in 2016. ~~Hollie
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