Tag Archives: Richard X

2013 EPs of the Year: #5 – 1

13 Dec

EPs of 2013 - 5-1

Our look back at the best releases of the year continues today with our favourite EPs of the last 12 months. As we mentioned yesterday, when revealing who made it to places 10-6 in our countdown, the standard of mini-releases this year has been exceptional and in all honesty, we could have chosen a completely different Top 10 and still been happy with our selection. That releases from the likes of Salt Cathedral, Empress Of, Marika Hackman and MØ didn’t quite make it into this list at all just goes to show that the quality really has been that good.

Here we go then with our Top 5 EPs of 2013.

#5 Annie – A&R

Annie A and R

At a time when the influence of the 80s is still prevalent (if not quite omnipotent) in synth based pop, the return of Annie with the A&R EP was a breath of fresh (if not new) air. Working once again with producer Richard X (A&R stands for Annie & Richard btw) she stopped her time machine short of the 80s and hopped off in the midst of early 90s dance-pop instead. The entire look, feel, sound and joy of the EP. Including cover art and fantastic The Chart Show homage-ing video, is steeped in that vibrant colour of a time that was shaking off the giant shoulder pads of the decade before and starting to get (a bit) more cool. The result is just fantastic pop, notably the outstandingly catchy and hook laden sounds of “Back Together” and “Ralph Macchio”. Her vocals sound as lovely and disarming as ever and the result is five tracks of brilliance. If she keeps making pop as good as this, we won’t mind the long waits between releases so much.

Buy it from: iTunes

#4 TV Girl – Lonely Women

TV Girl Lonely Women

Loneliness, depression and feelings of worthlessness feature heavily in TV Girl’s third EP, but rather than wallow in self pity and melodrama, Lonely Womenis full of wry wit and warmth, as well as some killer sounds. Lyrics are whimsical but real, observational, humorous but touching and the tunes are full of throwback indie-pop, lo-fi hip-hop beats and cascading piano melodies. The EP sounds fantastic and stands up to multiple and repeated listening, as have all TV Girl EPs so far, and they really are an act that are growing and improving with every release. With Lonely Women TV Girl has given us a gloriously sardonic and enjoyable look at the darker side of human emotion that they have deftly crafted with humanity, affection and great songs.

Buy it from: TV Girl

#3 Us Baby Bear Bones – What Starts With a U Ends With an I

Us Baby Bear Bones

Brighton based trio Us Baby Bear Bones are quite the special act and their debut EP, What Starts With a U Ends With an I is full of cool synths and electronica washing over compulsive beats, shadows, foreboding and ill portent. Puff and Daisy’s intertwining vocals and harmonies are ice sculptures atop a sonic glacier bathed in the eerie glow of the northern lights above. The trick that they are so adept at pulling off is that in amongst the layers of sound, the spiralling electronic rhythms, the world of ice and the creeping shadows, damn fine pop songs are to be found. They are emotional and evocative as well as being catchy and very easy on the ear. They swirl like a galaxy, magnificent and seemingly infinite, growling and bursting with each note and vocal.

Buy it from: Us Baby Bear Bones

#2 Gems – Medusa

Gems Medusa

Washington DC duo GEMS have featured in the site a fair bit over the year and especially in the last week or so as we have tipped big things for them in 2014. Their debut EP, Medusa, places the pair at the very top of the tree marked, ‘shimmery dream pop’. The vocals on the four tracks are goosebump making and the ice cool melodies are heart-meltingly gorgeous and ethereal. This is a blissful listen of style, grace and soft focus dreaminess. Their tracks are like billowing lace curtains by an open window with gentle undulations reaching softly into the room, touching your ears like a kiss from a butterfly.

Buy it from: iTunes

#1 Brooke Annibale – Words In Your Eyes

Brooke Annibale

Our number one EP this year is one that we have played more than any other and one that continues to offer something new, something we’d not heard or appreciated before with each listen. This is what we said about it earlier this year:

“Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Brooke Annibale is a singer songwriter of considerable talent. Her 2011 album, Silence Worth Breaking, was nominated for an Independent Music Award and won the people’s vote award in the Adult Contemporary category. Now she has returned with a new EP that showcases her propensity for perpetual musical motion and the evolving nature of her sound.

Words In Your Eyes supposedly represents a move away from the acoustic folk-pop styles which were evident on Annibale’s debut album, and while there is lot more on offer here, she hasn’t completely left it behind. Nor should she as it serves to add much to the other elements she has blended into these six tracks.

That folky, country background is apparent in her voice; her dreamy, dreamy voice. We could quite easily get lost in her vocals. At times light and breathy, such as on “Tragically Beautiful”, it skips along playfully. At other times it drops, the emotion it conveys is that much deeper, more heartfelt perhaps, but despite this strength of tone, it never loses its warmth or gentleness.

There are little reference points dotted all over, country, pop, ambient and folk all play a role, heck there is even minute elements of Led Zeppelin hidden within “Silence Worth Breaking”; the track her debut album was named after but didn’t feature. One of the major elements within the whole EP is the orchestration, the gorgeous, sumptuous orchestration.

We’re suckers for a good string section and Brooke Annibale uses hers fabulously. From small, subtle inflections to big, dramatic emotions, the strings add so much to each of the six tracks on Words In Your Eyes. Violins soar, lifting the melodies high upon their wings while cellos rumble darkly underneath. The emotional resonance of her songs is enhanced exponentially as the strings glide alongside her vocals; undulating with the pitch of her voice and the sentiment of her lyrics.

Never is this symbiosis better than on “You Don’t Know”, which is a stunning 3 and a half minutes of pop music. It brings to mind the high points of Morcheeba’s classic Big Calm and their use of strings, little embellishments here and there building and building to a great swirling denouement. Here they play amongst the guitars and drums before everything comes together in a tumultuous, shimmering ending.

Words In Your Eyes is a collection of delightful, pop songs, sung beautifully by an extremely talented young lady. This one will be on repeat for quite some time, of that we are certain.”

Buy it from: Brooke Annibale