By Jon Milton
It’s that most wonderful time of the year when lots of album of the year lists (including ours) fly about, but what about the EP’s? EP’s often represent a bold step forward for a band, elevating them others that just release tracks every now and then. They're often accompanied by physical releases on actual labels after all, so why not celebrate them?
EP’s are also released by exciting new artists who are not yet in the grip of ongoing album release schedules - essentially bands on the way up and worth looking out for.
Here's our pick of the bunch in 2022:
Opus Kink – ‘Til the Stream Runs Dry
Opus Kink seem to have really made their mark in 2022. Anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing them live will know how good they are, and most likely be seduced by their unique melodies. I can’t think of any other band that I’ve seen who have managed to open to a static, sober room and within 30 minutes get those at the front dancing and everyone else swaying side to side.
Their debut EP ‘Til the Steam Runs Dry’ was released in the summer on Nice Swan Recordings, and is a heady mix of tunes seemingly drawing influence from Tom Waits, The Pogues, The Redskins and Pigbag. Legends.
Moreish Idols - Float
An EP that is an absolute cracker from start to finish. It starts and ends with the two frantic singles released earlier this year ‘Hangar’ and ‘Speedboat’, with new songs W.A.M. and When the River Runs Dry sandwiched in between. There seems to be a trend developing at the moment with guitar bands incorporating brass into their sound and these guys manage to do it exceptionally well. Very moreish indeed.
Sprints –A Modern Job
Really quite brilliant. Last years' singles 'How does the story go' and 'Modern Job' kick off proceedings and are joined by 'Little Fix' which came out in January and two new tracks 'Delia Smith' and 'I’m in a band'. There so much energy in this EP: its noisy, exciting and utterly addictive. The EP was produced by Gilla Band's Daniel Fox, and he's done a grand job too. Essential.
English Teacher - Polyawkward
Theo Verney’s excellent production certainly does justice to the band's excellent tunes. Three of the tracks have been out for a while, with 'Good Grief' released late last year, followed by 'A55' and 'Mental Maths' earlier this and these are joined by title track 'Polyawkward' and 'Yorkshire Tapas'. What I love about this EP is its unpredictability. One minute you're listening to something seemingly quite conventional and next the song darts off in some mad direction. The bass-lines are genius. Lily Fontaine's vocals like nectar and it all works brilliantly.
The Black Lagoons – The Big Rock Candy Mountains
A band that appears in bursts intermittently, but when they do leave a lasting impression. Their debut 5 track EP features laconic vocals, whistling, Elvis, intrigue and a whole lot of reverb. Its quirky, unpredictable and thoroughly loveable. All good but Mongolian Pine and Elvis are the standouts.
Deadletter – Heat!
Deadletter just go from strength to strength. I’m reliably informed that are somewhat of a phenomenon live too, definitely one to make an effort for in 2023. Heat! offers 5 excellent tracks, including that earworm ‘Binge’. They remind me of the best bits of ‘Rock the Casbah’ era The Clash.
Home Counties - In A Middle English Town
‘Come on and hit me with tax, in double figures, double figures. And let the country collapse, into pieces, into pieces’ sing Home Counties on ‘Back to the 70s’, the lead track on their ‘In a Middle English Town’ EP. Hardly prescient given the inevitable path that follows on from borrowing billions to address the pandemic, but certainly poignant. The band continue their morphing process on this EP to good effect, with wonky funk and electro rubbing shoulders with the more conventional indie of ‘The Home Counties’. Where next?
Keg - Girders
Girders follows on from last year’s debut ‘Assembly’ with the gloriously obnoxious ‘Kids’ and ‘Elephant’ and disorientating ‘NPC’ accompanied by three more tracks ‘5/4’, ‘Girders’, and ‘Sing Again’. There’s a bit more experimentation on Girders compared to Assembly and again even a little bit of singing (unsurprisingly on Sing Again’) in among the shouting.
Midlight – Above from Below
London’s Midlight have released a string of impressive singles over the last two years and their debut EP brings more smart touches. Self-produced and self-released, the EP features six suave tracks that ooze class, sophistication and quality. The EP is very accessible and yes it has a lot of mainstream crossover appeal to it, but the band manage to stay just the right side of alternative. Above from Below feels like a taste of something special with more yet to come.
Tragic – Recidivism
Tragic don’t seem to get a lot of press, which baffles me. Harnessing a mixture of all out punk energy, post punk finesse with a bit of grunge thrown in here and there for good measure sounds like a great combo, after all. If you’ve not heard of them before, ‘Recidivism’ should serve as a good start. The EP features the frenetic ‘Backfoot’ and ‘Wake Up Terry’, two Nevermind era Nirvana-esque tunes ‘Terry The Self Obsessed Empath’ and ‘Downtown’ and the sublime ‘Recidivist’ and very good it is too.
Sourdough – Outlet
In these volatile, uncertain, complex and uncertain times, SOURDOUGH attempt to provide a voice for the disaffected many, with an EP that pours contempt on governmental abuse of power. And all of this was written before the government decided to issue arguably the most bonkers mini-budget of all time, and in doing so widen the gap between have and have nots.
Luna Rosa – Brutal Nature
A band that cites The Verve as influences which certainly comes across on tracks like 'MK Ultra' and 'Empty'. 'Brutal Nature' the song reminds me of The Blinders when they were good, and the other stand out track on the EP ‘I in the Centre of Pride’ has shades of one of my personal favourites, Echo and the Bunnymen. The EP is thoroughly impressive throughout and a real statement of intent from the band.
Public Body- Flavour of Labour
An EP that features songs about the workplace ‘Hard to Concentrate’; ‘Reset my Password’; and ‘Flavour of Labour’; ‘Formica’ about a Twitter dad and the politically charged ‘Sunburnt’. There’s a lot of energy going on here, agitated synths, wonky guitar lines and propulsive percussion to accompany singer Seb Gilmore’s wry observations.
Gag Salon – Get a Load of This Guy
The band announced themselves in February with their debut single, the frantic ‘Horses’ with a further couple of tracks ‘My Gun’ and ‘Don’t Eat Stuff off the Pavement’ following. The equally insistent 'Germs' and '21st Century Classical Music' complete the madness wonderfully on this full release, which has flashes of Josef K, Gang of Four and Parquet Courts, albeit a bit more hopped up and quirky.
Grab the playlist: EPs of the Year 2022