2012 EPs of the Year

11 Dec

2012 EPs of the Year

Yesterday we started the big 2012 review-a-thon with a look at our 20 favourite tracks of the year, and if you thought that was an eclectic bunch of unexpected delights, wait until you see the album list later in the week!

For now though, enjoy this list of our favourite EPs from the last 12 months. You may or not agree, but here at Alphabet Bands HQ we feel that 2012 was particularly strong for EPs with a number of new and established artists choosing to release some amazing music this way rather than as part of a full album. It’s not stopped yet either, just this week the likes of Katy B and Bastille have released new EPs to rave reviews, so we’ll be checking those out in due course.

Quite a few of our choices have been featured on the site in one form or another recently so they may not surprise you as much as the tracks list, but that doesn’t mean they are not great EPs, far from it, each of them are excellent. It might be worth noting at this time that no science was harmed in the creation of this list, it is all opinion based on nothing more on how much we enjoyed the music.

10. Haim – Forever

Haim_Forever

Like an awful lot of the blogging world, we love Haim, and with good reason. They make us want to dance, and we never dance! Their fusion of classic rock, modern R’n’B and pop is infectious and prompts uncontrollable bouts of 80’s style side-to-side dance shuffling. The Forever EP is a blast of smilerific tuneage, all funky and fun.


Buy it from: Amazon

9. San Zhi – Ice Light

San Zhi

Ice is not just limited to the title of this debut EP from boy/girl duo, San Zhi. The four tracks, two original and two amazing covers, are cooler than the arctic wastelands. Ice Light is all faraway, wistful vocals and dreamy, hazy melodies. It may be seen as a cop out, choosing an EP that only actually contains two original songs, but their minimalist covers of dance classic, “Show Me Love” and Lauryn Hill’s crestfallen lament to love, “Ex-Factor” are stunning and worthy of recognition on their own.


Buy it from: San Zhi or on ltd 10” vinyl from Rough Trade

8. Alice Jemima – All The Boyfriends

Alice Jemima

All The Boyfriends is an EP of charm, grace and cuteness in abundance. Each of the four songs are enchanting, embracing a simple but effective elegance that is easy to fall for. She is quite the rare talent, singing with a sweetness and sincerity that is utterly bewitching and managing to convey a youthful innocence and optimism in her gentle pop music yet without any feeling of naiveté.


Buy it from: Amazon or on CD directly from Alice.

7. MS MR – Candy Bar Creep Show

MS MR Candy Bar Creep Show

In Candy Bar Creep Show, MS MR carry us off to a macabre world of glitchy electronics, incessant rhythms, swirling strings and deliciously gloomy vocal harmonies. Yet despite the sometimes ghoulish and sinister subject matter, this is not an EP of sparse, plodding despair. Rather it is a vibrant, energetic concoction of dark and light that can be sung along with just as readily as it can be listened to by the light of a single candle. Tracks are vast, voluminous affairs, with layer upon layer of sound crafting aches, pains and heartbreak within their ample arrangements.


Buy it from: Amazon

6. Ricky Eat Acid & Arrange – sketches

arrange

Originally intended as an album, the collaboration on sketches between Sam Ray (Ricky Eat Acid) and Malcolm Lacey (Arrange) has given us four tracks of ambient melancholy are simply breathtaking.

Lacey’s otherworldly vocals skilfully combine with the often glacial synths and percussion that somehow manages to be both fragile and sharp at once. The result is an EP that is consistently wonderful, haunting at times, but always beautiful. If you ever needed an antidote to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this is it. It’s ‘close your eyes and let the sounds take you places’ music. Music you don’t just listen to but experience, let it float around you like a dream and carry you off into your imagination, you may never want to come back.


Buy it from: Bandcamp for as little or as much as you like.

5. Milly Hirst – Milly Hirst

milly hirst ep

Blessed with a voice that is rich and emotive, Milly Hirst has the capacity to melt hearts with her beguiling folk songs. The minimalist nature of the arrangements belies their complex musical dexterity, complementing the tone and content of each song. On “Tides” the backing vocals murmur and hum like the sea caressing the beach and gently fading away once more. Each track has been considered, crafted with real care and attention so each brush on a drum, pluck of guitar string or draw of bow on violin is done so to add meaning and emotion.


Buy it from: Milly Hirst

4. Paper Crows – Grey Skies

Paper Crows EP

The music of this London based duo is dark and ominous, Choruses are immense affairs, cathedral like in their grandiose, gothic sensibilities. The haunting vocals of Emma Panas intertwine and merge with the deeper new-romantic styling’s of Duncan McDougall to create vast, tumultuous soundscapes.

Grey Skies captures the fantastical fragility of Kate Bush and Bjork, the wit and eloquence of Tori Amos, the dense layers of Massive Attack and particularly the sense of grand occasion so embraced by Hurts and Florence. All of which is perfectly blended with precision electronics, sharp beats and the overwhelming feeling that this is pop music at its brooding best.


Buy it from: Paper Crows, for free!

3. Solange – True

Solange

It only came out a couple of weeks ago but the debut EP from soon-to-be-huge Solange is fantastic. Her symbiotic relationship with the exceptionally talented Dev Hynes (who, lest we forget, came within a torn leather jacket sleeve of hitting top spot on our album list last year) has brought about seven tracks that take his seedy, low-fi Blood Orange sounds and build them up with great pop and R’n’B sounds. There are elements of Madonna in her 80’s pomp seep through from Solange’s dextrous vocals, along with Aaliyah and even Mariah Carey. The tracks saunter along, soft and soulful yet still with enough grooveabiilty to make you want to sway, bop and sing along. It’s quite brilliant.


Buy it from: iTunes

2. Vuvuvultures – VVV

VVV

Suffering from acute Schizophrenia, “Ctrl Alt Mexicans” sets the tone for the multi-stylistic VVVEP from the amazing Vuvuvulturesperfectly. Guitars fuzz, wail and scuttle about while the beat pounds, pounds, pounds relentlessly underneath and the bassline growls. It has one of the most compulsive pop hooks we’ve heard this year and kicks things off brilliantly. The schizophrenic feeling remains constant and contradiction is once again embraced with “Pills Week”, a hyperactive, psychotic synth heavy, indie anthem and closer “I’ll Cut You”, a slow burning, grinding howl of a song. In just four songs VVV manages to cram in more ideas and styles than most full lengths releases these days.


Buy it from: Vuvuvultures

1. Public Service Broadcasting – The War Room

Public Service Broadcasting

We said at the time of its release that The War Room by Public Service Broadcasting could well end up atop our EP of the year list, and so it has.

Aside from the fantastic music on show, what really sets The War Room apart from other releases is the strength and depth of its narrative and the range of emotions it manages to convey. It is stoic, defiant, optimistic, euphoric, heartbreaking and poignant. The EP tells the full story of war, never losing sight of its true horror and the price that must be paid, even when in its most upbeat and danceable moments. It is a complete and comprehensive piece of work that stands shoulder to shoulder with the best albums of the year, let alone other EPs.


Buy it from: Public Service Broadcasting or on vinyl from Rough Trade

So that’s the EPs of the year, well done to Public Service Broadcasting for topping the list. Now it is your turn, what were your favourites?

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6 Responses to “2012 EPs of the Year”

  1. Emma December 11, 2012 at 20:47 #

    Awesome list! I’ve been obsessed with MS MR’s “Hurricane,” along with HAIM’s “Don’t Save Me.” They have a great video for that song too 🙂 http://vevo.ly/TSvd6l

    • Adam H December 11, 2012 at 23:42 #

      Thanks Emma, they are both rather awesome aren’t they?In fact, both of them made our tracks of the year list as well!

  2. name not supplied December 29, 2012 at 20:33 #

    Yes, I really like the Public Service Broadcasting one too.

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