Sunday, December 21, 2008

Extended Plays

Here are the top six EPs (or the like) that I, Colin McCormick, enjoyed this year.

6. Crystal Antlers – EP

It may be unimaginatively titled, but this Long Beach band’s noisy, lo-fi, self-released EP of what sounds to me like some sort of garage psychedelia is far more compelling than No Age’s similar but grossly overrated Nouns.

5. High Places – 03/07-09/07
This is more a collection of singles from last year than an actual EP, but it serves as a good lead-in for High Places’ full length debut. If Crystal Antlers is garage psychedelia, this Brooklyn-based duo’s rhythmically dense yet somehow sparse sound is bedroom psychedelia.

4. The Decemberists – Always The Bridesmaid: A Singles Series
Released as three separate vinyl singles under one heading (more for the pun than anything else), this de facto EP primarily targets established fans of the band. That is not to say it is lacking substance, however. Upbeat openers “Valerie Plame” and “Days Of Elaine” ably take after “Sixteen Military Wives” and “O Valencia!” respectively. But as usual, Colin Meloy is at his songwriting best when he dabbles in the more melancholy. Heavy-hearted closers “Record Year For Rainfall” and the simple, plaintive “Raincoat Song” are the real (non-engagement-related) jewels here.

3. Animal Collective – Water Curses
These leftovers from last years delicious meal of Strawberry Jam have had their sweetness well preserved. The title track is a haphazard, syncopated waltz that may just be the catchiest thing Animal Collective has released since “Grass.”

2. Air France – No Way Down
“Spring has arrived early here.” It’s a strange choice of phrase to open a track entitled “June Evenings,” or, for that matter, an entire EP that feels like a breezy, late summer electro-pop escape to some blissful beach or idyllic countryside too perfect to possibly be real. It all sounds sort of like a dream…no, better. Now when will this Swedish duo ever release a full length LP?

1. Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant
This unexpectedly warm and rich EP came out of nowhere to give us our first small taste of Fleet Foxes’ beguiling folk melodies, extraordinarily lush harmonies, and enchanting arrangements. What an introduction.


Thomas McMahon IV said...

I'm gonna have to get those Air France EPs. (I accidentally wrote "Air Frank," which would be a great band name.) I like what you've sent me from them.

Paul said...

I finally heard Air France for the first time ever today. I'm excited to check them out further.

And much agreed about No Age being overrated. I'm inclined to think that Crystal Antlers, the Mae Shi, or Abe Vigoda would be much better ambassadors for - for lack of a better term - the Smell scene.