Best of 2010: EPs/Singles of the Year

Best of 2010: EPs/Singles | Songs | Albums | Rawky Awards

The album isn’t dead. But, like the dinosaurs, it may not outlast its smaller, warm-blooded colleagues. In 2010, the EP became something more than a tour curio or a year-end reminder of a band’s existence. For bands unable or unwilling to make the artistic and financial investment of a full-length release, the EP became the perfect format: long enough to showcase what a band could do without being too short to pass off as a one-MP3 wonder and just right for self-releasing and giving away free, as so many groups chose to do this year. For this Twitter-addled writer, sub-20-minute run-times meant I ended up reaching for EPs and singles, for the first time, much more often than I did albums. Though the year’s best handful of statements did come in LP form, I consider this list nearly interchangeable with my album of the year list and hope you will, too. Making an album is always a gamble, but for the bands on this list, going short was a sure thing.

20. A Classic EducationHey There Stranger EP
VIDEO/REVIEW | “Gone To Sea”: mp3

19. GhostyTeam Up Again EP
REVIEWS | FREE DOWNLOAD“On a Saturday”: mp3

18. ValarWe Have a Home Among the Trees EP / Live at the House of Prayer
VIDEO/REVIEW | “Don’t Hold Back”: mp3

17. Wild NothingEvertide EP
ALBUM REVIEW | “Golden Haze”: mp3

16. SeaponySeapony EP
REVIEW | “Dreaming”: mp3
(Note: This rating is based on the four-track version of the EP including “Dreaming,” which seems to have been pulled from the Bandcamp page since it came out on 7”. Meet your new evolving tracklists, folks.)

15. ManwomanchildManwomanchild EP
REVIEW | “Reasons”: mp3

14. Your Youth Aloha EP
REVIEW | VIDEO | “Diamond”: mp3

13. International WatersSalt and Sea b/w Flashes 7” / It Felt Like EP
REVIEW | LIVE PHOTOS | “Flashes”: mp3

12. DestroyerArcher on the Beach b/w Grief Point 12”

11. Twin Sister Color Your Life EP
REVIEW | “All Around and Away We Go”: mp3

10. Laura MarlingBlues Run the Game b/w The Needle and the Damage Done 7″
Could British folk front-runner Laura Marling have chosen two better, darker songs to pay tribute to than these? A respectful rendition of Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done” is always a treat, but it’s Marling’s wise-beyond-her-years take on the all-but-forgotten Jackson C. Frank’s “Blues Run the Game” that makes this release sever heartstrings.

9. The SmilesHermosa EP
In a year in which Vampire Weekend embraced unnecessary electronics and soggy California dreamin’, a quartet of L.A. college kids stuck to their guitars and beat the Columbia band at its own game.
REVIEW | BUY | “Cala Cola”: mp3

8. Remington Super 60Winter EP
A humble gem of a mostly instrumental collection barely long enough to count as a Sufjan Stevens album track. The band touches on jazz, folk and space-age pop with equal charm.
REVIEW | “Cocktail Jazz”: mp3 | Full EP download: ZIP

7. Real Estate Out of Tune b/w Reservoir #3 7″
If I could chose which of these two guitar-pop daydreams I liked more, then I’d be able to stop listening to the other. That hasn’t happened yet.
Out Of Tune by truepanther

6. Charlie WadhamsUpside Down EP
I’m not sure how Wadhams’ latest, another fine collection from one of L.A.’s most nuanced songwriters, went overlooked this year. Ignoring it may not be a crime, but it should at least be a ticketed infraction.
REVIEW | BUY | “People Want To Get Lost”: mp3

5. Young HuntingInto Yr Mind b/w Sonata 7″
In a year without new Fleet Foxes material, no one came closer than Young Hunting, who I’m astounded haven’t been handed whatever’s left of the music industry’s advance money and flown directly to Abbey Road Studios.
REVIEW | “Into Yr Mind”: mp3

4. Puro InstinctPuro Instinct EP
I’ve used the phrase “soft-focus” a lot this year, but as their peers surrender fresh ideas to increasingly homogenous (read: boring) vintage aesthetics, Puro Instinct live la vida lomo with charisma and considerable chops.
REVIEW | LIVE PHOTOS | BUY | “Slivers of You”: mp3

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.Horse Power EP
From of Montreal to Gayngs, indie rock’s pop purveyors turned mostly to R&B (a term I use extremely loosely) this year, but not Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. — their debut EP bristles with Beta Band-esque invention and melodies that’d make James Mercer blush. Can’t wait to see what they’ll do with a bigger canvas.
REVIEW | “Nothing But Our Love”: mp3

2. MemoryhouseThe Years EP
The defining theme of 2010? Dreams. Generally teenage ones. But with synthesizer ambience and youthful ennui practically competitive sports this year, Memoryhouse and stand-out tracks like “Heirloom” and “Lately” ran circles around the rest of the field.
REVIEW | VIDEO | “Sleep Patterns”: mp3 | Full EP download: ZIP

A year ago, Harlem Shakes landed at No. 2 on my best of 2009 list. Then they broke up. Within months, guitarist Todd Goldstein returned to his earlier ARMS project, put a band together, released this EP for free, played one of the best sets of SXSW 2010 and generally impressed the shit out of me with emotive, serious material that embraced a sonic dark side that the frenetic Harlem Shakes typically avoided. If next year’s Summer Skills is anywhere near this good, I’ll gladly make Goldstein Rawkblog chart-topping an annual tradition.
ALBUM REVIEW | LIVE PHOTOS | Rawkblog Live Session | “Emily Sue, Pt. 2”: mp3 | Full EP download: ZIP

Rawkblog EPs/Singles of the Year:
1. Arms – EP
2. Memoryhouse – The Years EP/Heirloom 7”
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Horse Power EP
4. Puro Instinct – Puro Instinct EP
5. Young Hunting – Into Yr Mind b/w Sonata 7”
6. Charlie Wadhams – Upside Down EP
7. Real Estate – Out of Tune b/w Reservoir 7″
8. Remington Super 60 – Winter EP
9. The Smiles – Hermosa EP
10. Laura Marling – Blues Run the Game b/w The Needle and the Damage Done 7″
11. Twin Sister – Color Your Life EP
12. Destroyer – Archer on the Beach b/w Grief Point 12”
13. International Waters – Salt and Sea b/w Flashes 7” / It Felt Like EP
14. Your Youth – Aloha EP
15. Manwomanchild – Manwomanchild EP
16. Seapony – Seapony EP
17. Wild Nothing – Evertide EP
18. Valar – We Have a Home Among the Trees EP / Live at the House of Prayer
19. Ghosty – Team Up Again EP
20. A Classic Education – Hey There Stranger EP

Best of 2010: EPs/Singles | Songs | Albums | Rawky Awards