If 2010 was the year of the EP, 2011 was the year of the… not EP. While 7″s and Bandcamp singles haven’t killed the album off just yet, there was no shortage of tasty bite-size release this year.
10. Wet Years – Sleepy Cove cassette
From the opening moments of “No Surf” — guitar murmurings that sound like gulls’ cries — Wet Years make their beach allegiance clear, but the band dips into reverb only for the final brushstrokes on an impressively vivid dream-pop watercolor.
TRACK REVIEW | “No Surf”: MP3 | BUY
9. Deepest Bison – Haunted Tea Party EP
Promising stuff from a fresh folk soloist. Deepest Bison’s debut EP borrows a little from Sung Tongs and a lot from the weird, cobwebbed portions of your subconscious.
“Calico Ghost”: MP3 | BUY
8. J. Irvin Dally – Sun Room single
Lovely, sprawling folk from one of the genre’s finest young singers. Bright enough to prescribe for seasonal affective disorder.
VIDEO: YOURS TRULY SESSION | “Sun Room”: MP3 | BUY
7. Little Horn – Twelve EP
Craggy folk newcomers lay down the lush guitars and baritone vocals with Lullaby for the Working Class-level solemnity. No pressure, Midlake.
REVIEW | “Bridges Break”: MP3 | BUY
6. Brave Irene – Brave Irene EP
Rose Melberg, Rawkblog heroine, returns with a new band, a pair of keyboards and her noisiest collection in a decade. “No Fun” is, in fact, plenty of it.
REVIEW | “No Fun”: MP3 | BUY
5. Big Moves – Lanterns EP
The L.A. jazz-punks should be headlining Warped Tour next year. Or leading the first moon-mining expeditions in 2k20. They’re that talented.
LIVE PHOTOS | “Groundbreaking Studies”: MP3 | BUY
4. Jens Lekman – An Argument with Myself EP
It’s pretty clear this is a warm-up for the Swede’s next album and it’s accordingly erratic, but the highs — “An Argument With Myself,” “New Directions” — are clever, warm and tuneful, a combination that’s increasingly a Lekman exclusive.
LIVE VIDEO | LIVE PHOTOS | “An Argument With Myself”: MP3 | BUY
3. Beach Fossils/Wild Nothing – Gruesome Flowers: A Tribute to the Wake split single
In which Beach Fossils discover that they have personality! Both sides are thorough jams from Captured Tracks, a aesthetically laser-focused label which could do no wrong in 2011.
Beach Fossils – “Plastic Flowers”: MP3 | BUY
2. LA Font – Sharks single
The Los Angeles garage band’s best cuts yet, especially “Lipsmack,” a b-side whose leather-gloved riffs hit you right in the face. (And, full disclosure, a song I was proud to premiere earlier this year.)
TRACK PREMIERE | “Lipsmack”: MP3 | BUY
1. High Highs – High Highs EP
Imagine buying Radiohead’s first single in 1993. Imagine that they were already as good as “Karma Police.” Imagine that nobody knew who they were yet. Imagine that they were probably going to release the album of the decade next year. This is really happening.
VIDEO | ALL POSTS | “Flowers Bloom”: MP3 | BUY
See the list in text-only/copy-paste format >>
Want more music delivered directly to your inbox? Sign up for Mercury Music, our Digital Record Club.