Best EPs of 2010 December 29, 2010Posted by Richard Bolisay in Music, Yearender.
AND THE LIST KEEPS ON TRUCKIN’. Seven extended-play releases, each has its own way of making me wet and happy, follow and follow me down. Gems that can easily be played whenever, short and sweet except for the last one, which is remarkably long but worth every second. Here they go:
7. Cults 7”
It pays to have an attractive cover; and in this case, three vintage covers. Cults came out of nowhere, no Facebook page, no MySpace, no buzz surrounding their entrance, but upon the release of “Go Outside,” a marvelous tune teeming with ecstasy, they have drawn the curtains with such freshness one can’t help but stay tuned. “Most Wanted” and “The Curse” complete the package, fulfill the promise, and leave us craving for more.
6. The Samps
Impressive is how The Samps manage to retain their ability to surprise for the entire length of the record. For fifteen minutes, groove is the only rule of the game. The soundscape seems composed at random but constant listening attests to the fact that the tracks are meticulously sampled, most of them heavily acousmatic, as they spill over the guts and excesses of dance, funk, R&B, and disco. It feels neither short nor lacking, and it only becomes more beautiful every listen.
5. So Much Excelsior
This is the sound of the city after dark, the noise of broken glasses in the gutter, the smell of dust on the wayside, the echoes of drunken conversations making their way through the surface, the shards of break-ups, meaningless glances, tight embraces, furtive kisses, nocturnal spaces. Owel Alvero hears and sees them all, misty-eyed, dog-eared.
An officemate who recently returned from Korea told me that the independent music scene there is thriving; and by thriving he means I should go there and see for myself. This is not at all surprising, and I know that this has been going on for a long time. With all the popular TV series and boy bands we’re often exposed to, I’ve always felt the existence of an alternative equivalent in which my poseur-friendly ears would seek refuge. And here come The Koxx, a five-piece group recommended by a friend. The influences are obvious—British punk bands, grunge, electro, all that trendy do-it-yourself music. The texture is thick with scruff and grease. The tracks—especially “ACDC,” “Over and Over,” and “Trouble Maker”—are never scant of hooks. Next thing I know my jeans are already ripped at the knee.
3. Mount Wittenberg Orca
Dirty Projectors + Björk
It’s the perfect union of two artists whose eccentricities set them apart from their contemporaries. Together Dirty Projectors and Björk make harmonies sound like hallucinations of crackpots. Everything reels heavenwards, and the claps and background voices shake the hills to their roots. Honestly, humming has always been an underrated talent.
2. Sun Bronzed Greek Gods
From start to finish Sun Bronzed Greek Gods bursts with a brimful of energy, revealing its stash of fuzzed-out riffs and lockstep beats on top of its gobbledygook foam and fizz. The tracks revel in whoosh, but it’s the whoosh of refreshment, the whoosh of muscles high on exercise, fiddling with kaleidoscope, full of lust, full of life.
1. All Delighted People
Much has been said about All Delighted People and I doubt there’s anything important I can add to it except the predictable, which is not to say insignificant, fact that I love it to bits. Reading reviews of some writers—who can’t be blamed for their contradicting tastes, and who tried, in their own helpless way, to map out Sufjan’s career since A Sun Came and arrived at the conclusion that this EP was “a disappointingly flabby return”—only affirms how the indie-darling is quickly turning himself into an interestingly diverse troubadour, and a slippery one at that. I guess no matter how fucked up Sufjan would be, he’d always have an audience that would like to know what he’s up to and hear him out, be it his folk ditties (“Enchanting Ghost,” “Heirloom,” “The Owl and the Tanager”) or his wildly long and winding compositions (the two versions of “All Delighted People” and “Djohariah”) that alternately fail and succeed. “A very big mess; he saw too much,” he sings in “From the Mouth of Gabriel.” Sufjan might as well be referring to himself. He blurs the line between talent and ambition because he has a wealthy hoard of both. And if he calls this one-hour submarine warfare an EP, then better let him wear his trunks and swim.