Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Top* 5 EPs from 2008

In no particular order...

1. Miss TK and the Revenge- No Biterz

Miss TK and the Revenge are in a very small category of artists who had their music featured in a commercial and didn't achieve more commercial success as a result. (See also: Smog [Cadillac commercial] and Noah and the Whale [Saturn commercial]) Their title song in the background of a Clearasil commercial is catchy enough, but must not be tied to a cool enough product to garner large success. Which is fine enough anyway, since the band hardly plays outside their home state of New Jersey, and don't seem to write their fun, hook-filled dance rock for anyone but themselves or kids who like cowbell in their female-fronted dance music. They poke fun of the scene in "Nano U Didn't," depicting someone learning all the words to a song to show their friends how into it he or she is, but still acting removed.

Favorite song: "Future Power" Sounds like a forgotten track from their no-holds-barred debut album, XOXO, and leads into their newer material well.

2. Mogwai- Batcat EP

Recorded in Scotland and Texas, Batcat came out a mere two weeks before Mogwai's full length, The Hawk is Howling. It seemed to be a smart move, as Mogwai's instrumental quality is still intact and expressive as ever, and the three track album only served to whet one's appetite for more. "Devil Rides" features Roky Erickson on vocals and is probably as much for the fans as for Mogwai.

Favorite song: "Batcat" This track also made it onto Hawk.

3. Vetiver-
More of the Past

Though mostly an addendum to their 2008 full length, Thing of the Past, the EP has its freak-folk roots planted strongly enough to stand alone. Well-chosen covers breathe a new life into the songs and fit as comfortably as your favorite worn-in sweater. Between just finishing opening for the Black Crowes on the Midwest leg of their tour, strangely, and a new release on Sub Pop due out in February, Vetiver is poised to explode.

Favorite song: "See You Tonight" Feat. singer/songwriter Johnathan Rice and fiddle accompaniment.

4. The Cool Kids- The Bake Sale EP

Usually when artists are too self-aware their art suffers, but The Cool Kids use their keenness to their advantage. Unmistakably from Chicago in their lyrics and Detroit in their production, they are refreshing in the face of the over-stylized Kanye and, concurrently, an homage to J Dilla. Cool Kids Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish utilize more storytelling than name calling, play easily off of one another, and use simple beats to showcase their true talent. The self-described "new black version of the Beastie Boys," are as good at being self-reflexive and adroit at nerdy name-dropping as they are at writing their own instructions for their brand of hip-hop - which they kindly give to you in "Bassment Party." Step one- move to Chicago.

Favorite song: "One Two" Nursery Rhymes evolve and set the tone for the next eight songs on the loosely defined EP.

5. Maps & Atlases- You and Me and the Mountain

In a newfound show of togetherness, Chicago's (loosely) Maps & Atlases, New York's The Walkmen, and Germany's The Notwist all have different incarnations of "You and Me" in their titles this year. All of their releases are also commendable, but Maps & Atlases may be the most exciting, as the sound of an eccentric band coming into their own weirdness is audible. Similar to Hella and Cex with high-range guitars that seem to mimic synthesizers, held together with strong drumming.

Favorite song: "Daily News" With rollicking drums and TV on the Radio-esque vocals, it truly sounds of this year.

Tip of the hat to:
Bon Iver- Blood Bank ; The National- The Virginia EP; Passion Pit- Chunk of Change; Minus the Bear- They Make Beer Commercials Like This (reissue); The Mountain Goats/ The Mountain Goats and Kaki King- Satanic Messiah EP/ Black Pear Tree EP

Wag of the finger toward: ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead- Festival Thyme; Minus the Bear- Acoustics EP

*Not the best, but favorite, as
I know there are many, many EPs I haven't heard.

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