Our final ten favorite EPs is littered with some of our all-time favorite artists. Some of the bands are ones we grew up listening to when we were much younger. Others blew us away when we started The Revue nearly 3.5 years ago, and they continue to turn our heads with the music they create. Without further ado, here are our Favorite EPs of 2016 – Part 3 edition. After you finish here, check the first and second parts.
Naked Giants – R.I.P. (USA)
Seattle indie rock trio Naked Giants have simply owned 2016 ever since their R.I.P. EP released earlier this year. “Ya Ya” kicks off with a ferocious bulldog snarl of a riff. It has an intensity that makes The White Stripes sound sedate (and made us say “Holy hell!” back in August), but that’s only half of its charm. When this song hits you, the involuntary head bobbing takes over and you find yourself holding onto your face for fear of having it melted right off. The energy these guys have is fierce, as are the hooks on this tune. The EP only has six songs (of which “Ya Ya” is the “save the best for last” closer), so we’re all hoping to hear a lot more from Gianni Aiello, Grant Mullen, and Henry LaVallee in the coming year. Talent of their caliber deserves to be showcased on a full-length album, not a brief EP. But man, what a whopper of an EP it is! ~~ Hollie
Ofelia K – Chaos Cave (USA)
It’s no surprise Ofelia K is on our list. Ever since she released her debut, “White T-Shirt”, we have been following her blossoming career. For the past two years, she has consistently released captivating single after single with her signature sultry vocals set against simple yet beautiful acoustic guitars and complementary synth. On her sophomore EP, Chaos Cave, she takes us on a trip with 5 stellar tracks about the ups and downs of relationships and the significance between darkness and light. We remain infatuated wtih Ofelia K as she continues to blaze her own trail creating tracks that are truly unique and definitively her own. ~~ Wendy
The Perennials – The Perennials (USA)
Whether you believe in fate or not, it is difficult to argue that some power or purpose was at play in the creation of The Perennials. It started long ago in a small village in Italy when two young Americans met at Bible school, fell in love, and packed their things for Brooklyn. Along the way, Pete and Amanda Wells developed their musical talents and refined their sound. This labor of love reveals itself in The Perennials, an EP that can simply be described as gorgeous. Each of the EP’s five songs are cinematic escapades, often stealing one’s breath or producing euphoria. What makes the EP immensely fascinating, however, is the Wells’ beautiful exploration and even reconciliation of the relationship between their faith and the world around them. The EP’s centerpiece, “Dirt”, possesses some of the year’s most poignant lyrics while “Miss Marionette” is a stunning essay of survival. Maybe there was a purpose for their chance meeting in Italy. Maybe it was fate. ~~ Ben
Sade x MF Doom, mixed by Seanh – SADEVILLAIN (Nigeria / England)
This might seem like a little bit of an odd pick. It’s not necessarily a traditional EP, it’s not new music, and it’s not an original composition. SADEVILLAIN, however, broke the internet for a brief time this year, and it’s worth more than a few spins. Metal Face could essentially rap over someone stomping their foot on a cold subway platform and he would sound great, but the cool, almost aloof sounds of Sade turn out to be perfect. This is a hotly contested genre of music in and of itself, but it reflects a certain tide within the music business. A SoundCloud user named Seanh2k11 — real name Sean Harrison, but who cares? Names are ephemeral in the massive Soundcloud remix subculture, while usernames become stamps of fame — posted this and we are pretty sure they’re the one who made the mix but we love it. Who do we credit? Is it legal? Is it music? Should Seanh2k11 be getting onto year-end lists? In one of the most bonkers years in recent memory, falling in love with an internet-famous EP-length mashup produced by a person we refer to by username kind of makes sense. ~~ Nick
Sheer Mag – III 7″ (USA)
Sweet guitar licks, a garage punk vibe, and killer ’70s- influenced grooves. That describes the latest EP from Sheer Mag. This March, the Philly-based band released their third 7” EP, III, and it may be their best yet. Right from the opening moments of “Can’t Stop Fighting” it’s obvious lead singer Tina Halladay is a force to be reckoned with. Her lyrics cut through the fuzzy guitar and bass grooves like a blowtorch. “Worth The Tears” is catchy as hell, from the kickass drumbeat to the slick groove. The leads on “Night Isn’t Bright” are just fantastic. “Nobody’s Baby” grooves with this real throwback pop rock vibe. At 13 minutes and 4 tracks, it’ll keep you coming back for more, and it always delivers. ~~ Rich
Snail Mail – Habit (USA)
Baltimore’s Snail Mail released their first EP, Habit, on cassette this year. Seventeen-year old lead singer Lindsey Jordan sings and performs with a conviction and confidence many artists twice her age wish they had. Lyrically, Habit is smart. It’s a record about frustration, change, the unknown, and restlessness. Habit starts off with a bang with “Thinning”, a song that just freakin’ rocks. The EP slows up a bit over the next five tracks, as Snail Mail deliver some of this year’s finest indie pop tracks in “Static Buzz”, “Dirt” and “Slug”. The EP closes with the gorgeous “Stick”, which features just Jordan and her guitar and offers the perfect closer to a near-perfect record. ~~ Rich
Sundara Karma – Loveblood (England)
Sundara Karma has been on our radar for a bit, and earlier this year we chose them as an artist to watch. It comes as no surprised their EP, Loveblood, fully delivered and actually exceeded our expectations. With their complete package of anthemic, ’90s-inspired pop-rock, mature storytelling, and frenetic live shows, it’s no surprise Sundara Karma has begun to blaze their own trail to success.
Even though the band began in their teens, their thoughtful songwriting and lyrical style is well beyond their current years. With the release of Loveblood, the band proves their talent and ability to become one a current indie darling this year and beyond. Hopefully with their popular current buzz, they will eventually begin to make an even stronger impact since they just recently visited America earlier this year. Their debut full-length arrives early in January, which should see Sundara Karma reach star status. ~~ Wendy
Tiny Dinosaurs – Awake (France/USA)
Of all the EPs we chose, Tiny Dinosaurs‘ was one that moved us most. Awake wasn’t just a labor of love for project mastermind Julie Jay; it was a leap of faith in believing she could still sing and perform again. Through her recovery from a traumatic surgery that nearly cost both her voice and her life, she persevered to deliver a memorable EP.
Musically, Awake is an enrapturing compilation of gritty, intimate indie rock akin to Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen. Lyrically, however, it stands above the pack for its honesty and emotional poignancy. “Shut Out The Light” and “Sit and Stare” are engrossing for how they encapsulate Jay’s struggles. “Never Be” is highly introspective, offering us a glimpse into past events that not only shaped Jay’s life but our own as well. While “Shake” offers an anthem to represent Jay reborn as Tiny Dinosaurs. From start to finish, there was only one way we could categorize Awake – as a tour de force. ~~ Ben
The Van T’s – A Coming of Age (Scotland)
From the first time we heard The Van T’s, we immediately knew the Glaswegian quartet were on to something huge. Methodically, their fan base has grown with each blistering rock single. Their popularity reached new levels when their sophomore EP, A Coming of Age, arrived in the summer. With the intensity and ferocity of bands like Le Butcherette, Ex Hex, and Elastica, the record was wall-to-wall, hair-raising mix of post-punk and indie rock. “Blood Orange” and “35mm” exemplified the band’s energy and infectious brand of punk-rock. On tracks like “Dandy” and “No Man’s Money”, they expand their sound and offer hip-shaking, surf-oriented, jangle-rock. When a band can make us simultaneously rock out and dance uncontrollably, you know they are on to something really special. ~~ Ben
Wolf Parade – EP 4 (Canada)
Within the span of five days in January, the music world mourned David Bowie’s passing on the 10th then welcomed the reemergence of Wolf Parade on the 14th. That first cryptic Tweet buoyed the spirits of anxious fans who’d all but given up on hearing new material from the band. But lo and behold, their four-song EP arrived in May, bearing a not even remotely cryptic title: EP 4.
It’s no secret that Wolf Parade has many fans here at The Revue. But even the most ardent fan will harbor reservations after a five-year absence. As our review from May will attest, this EP “sounds like the band never had a hiatus.” From the shoegaze elements of “C’est La Vie Way” to the pure, face-melting rock of “Floating World” (which sounds even better live!), what this EP lacks in length it more than makes up for with sonic depth. The big question remains: when will Wolf Parade deliver a full-length follow-up in 2017? Based on Dan Boeckner’s recent Tweet, soon. ~~ Hollie
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