Monday, December 13, 2010

To EP or not to EP - that is the question...

The poor little EP - it's usually disqualified or left off from end of the year best-of/favorites lists. That's a shame considering that a lot of bands are releasing more of their songs on the EP format. Here are the EPs I've enjoyed this past year from some of my favorite local (Austin TX) bands.

Quiet Company - Songs For Staying In 

This EP has been a case of "the little EP that could". It became more than just a release to put out between full length records. This record received airplay on popular Austin radio stations (KGSR, KUT, and KROX) and it has put them on the radar as a band to watch while fans await the release of their next full length recording.

She Sir - Yens

This was released early in 2010 but as a latecomer to the band, I didn't hear it until this summer. After listening to its sparkling melodies, dual harmonies, and layered, swirling guitars, I was instantly smitten and wondered why I hadn't came across their songs earlier. "Yens" is merely a taste of what She Sir have to offer but it's a good place to start.

English Teeth - English Teeth, Two, and III

This Austin band proudly wear their Anglophile influences on their hearts and sleeves and that's what I love about them. Why should you hide your best influences ? Show them off loud and proud ! The 'Teef (as they nicknamed themselves) started off the year by releasing their debut, self titled EP including the wonderfully snotty, bratty nuggets"Catastrophe" and "Invasion". This fall, they released the aptly named "Two" EP containing 2 songs, Dear Caesar and Roadrunner. They close the year by releasing another EP, titled "III". The EPs are a certainly a fun listen but to fully experience the 'Teef, try to catch one of their live performances in Austin.

Gentlemen Rogues - self titled

This will predictably get comparisons to Green Day (the vocals are slightly reminiscent to them) but I think that Gentlemen Rogues are more "power pop" than "pop punk". Like English Teeth, they don't shy away from showing their British influences. I grabbed a copy of their EP at one of their shows earlier this month and it's been on frequent rotation. I'm certainly looking forward to hearing more from them in 2011.

The Hi-Tones EP

After being on the scene for a couple of years under a few different names and lineups, the band now known as The Hi-Tones made their debut release this summer with a self titled EP. They combine 60s British invasion with plenty of soul and R&B plus a pinch of power pop that provides the listener with an introduction to their infectious, energetic sound. You can preview their upcoming 2011 release here

The White White Lights EP

I became an instant fan of TWWL last year so I was excited to finally get my hands on their debut EP released in Feb 2010. If I'm asked to recommend a band to see in Austin, TWWL are always on my list.
Great songs, a strong female singer, solid, powerful drums, and one of the best live guitarists I've seen (plus charismatic stage presence), they simply kick ass :)

TV Torso - Status Quo Vadis

After hearing their previous 2 7" inch releases, I was eager to hear more. Forget the Spoon comparisons, Matt Oliver creates distinct, shimmering guitar pop tunes of his own and with songs like "Slouch Hat City, "Two Glass Eyes", and "Slanderers Stew", you will be sure to keep TV Torso on your musical radar (and go back and pick up those outstanding 7 in" singles on their Bandcamp page). Their live set is also definitely worth catching.

Love at 20- To Have and Have Not

In late 2009, Love at 20 debuted with their full length, Time To Begin, which was offered as a free download on Bandcamp (now available for purchase on and iTunes). They spent part of 2010 staying active on the live music scene as well as taking time to write and record their follow-up EP released in November. It's available as a free download on Bandcamp. It's catchy as hell and some of you might be a little shy to admit you like their sound. Think Muse mixed with a little bit of Weezer, Interpol, and Jimmy Eat World but with a little extra class and panache. Raise your martini glasses and rock !

The Steps - Flight Path

Classic rock meets modern rock (or take a good musical upbringing and add their own contemporary musical choices) and you've got The Steps. "Flight Path" was their follow up after their 2008 full length self titled debut.  This summer 2010 release was perfect for the season - loud, strong, singalong worthy, and carefree.

International Waters - It Felt Like

The band describes their sound as "jangly anger" which is fitting since there is some bite and sharpness behind the sweet sounding vocals and guitars. It's a limited release (only 300 copies pressed) on 10" vinyl. You can purchase it directly from the band's website. I've only heard 2 out of the 4 tracks since I don't have a turntable yet. I've enjoyed the slightly ominous, somber "Cycle of the Chain" and the brighter, sweet tones of "Olympia".

The Seas - Head of Snakes

Now I remember why I'm not the biggest fan of making lists. I always end up forgetting something I wanted to include. The band released this EP this summer shortly before frontman, Nurk Njorksen, left for adventures in S Korea. The digital only EP features slinky yet bubbly tunes like "Stars Don't Shine Just For You", the lush and dreamy "Lullahello", and the unexpected, singalong anthem, "Suicide" ("We don’t need no suicide for the two of us to get high").

The Ripe - man with no eyes

Formed while still a member of The Ugly Beats, Jake Garcia branched off and started a new project, The Ripe, with friends from other local bands. The Ripe put together a tasty combination of 60s/70s power pop, folk, and psychedelia. Sunny melodies and jangly and crunchy guitar licks serve as an introduction to their sound. Look out for their upcoming full length recorded this year in Spain.

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