So, i’ve finally gotten round to compiling my other “Best of 2010” lists. Here’s what twenty ten had to offer in EP form.
Counting down from 10 to 1 we have…..
10. ASPEN TIDE – BITTERSWEET EP
1. Bittersweet *free download*
2. Baltic Numb
I only found out about Aspen Tide towards the end of last year when i saw them support my friends band at the 13th Note in Glasgow. Immediately after the gig i went home and and downloaded the EP from their bandcamp page. The EP is a perfect combination of alternative punk, indie and vitriol, albeit gentle vitriol in some parts. Love lorn lyrics providing the perfect centre pieces which are then backed by an almost angelic quietness and moments of monolithic heaviness. They have the whole “quiet/loud” thing down to an art. Ably switching from intricate guitar lines to balls out riffing in nano seconds. Their influences are prominent but not over bearing. They have everything a modern/popular band need. Thoughtful verses and very, very catchy choruses. The next step for these 4 Scottish guys could very well be a big one and if they’re picked up and given the right management then who knows what awaits.
They’re definitely a band i’d recommend catching live. They come across as really being in their element in a live setting. When i saw them at the 13th Note i turned and told my friend that i genuinely thought we could be in the presence of the next Biffy Clyro. It’s in your hands guys. Make it happen.
9. GAUNTLET HAIR – OUT, DON’T EP
1. Out, Don’t..
2. Heave *free download*
This Colorado twosome gave us a good few pieces of joyous wonky pop last year. The “Out, Don’t” single/EP being the stand out. It’s like someone has decided to make some lo-fi soul music. There’s a certain element R’n’B element throughout the tracks as well and the title track “Out, Don’t” gathers momentum as it builds up throughout it’s 4 and a half minutes and ends with what sounds like the Beach Boys joing forces with Animal Collective. A must have of last year.
8. THE JAPANESE WAR EFFORT – SINGS OF A DEAR GREEN PLACE EP
1. The Cathcart Circle *free download*
2. I Hate Glasgow
3. Oh, Literature
4. Lets Be Fine Now
5. Fake Tanned Out Yr Tits
6. Overweight Friendship Battalion
7. Cake Face
8. Sunglasses Sucka
A little concept album all about Glasgow from an Edinburgh based, soundscape loving, (dare i say) abstractionist. Yes, at times it’s abstract yet always accessible. The EP drifts along perfectly. The quiet bedroom vocals create an intimate setting and nestle the songs into your ears. This is one for the headphones.
7. AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR – THE LETTERS EP
1. S Is For Salamander *free download*
2. D Is For Django the Bastard
3. B Is For B-Side
4. K Is For Killing Spree (An Ode To)
This is an EP with a twist. It was recorded in a time span of 4 days during a tour the band did. It’s the same ASIWYFA as always. Amazingly bone crunching riffs, an almost tribal beat and layers of noise that would put most “heavy” bands to shame. Hopefully “The Letters” is a little taster for what lies in store in the form of a new album from the Northern Irish four piece .
6. BRETON – SHARING NOTES EP
1. The Well
3. Sharing Notes
6. 15X *free download*
Another album with a twist. No this wasn’t recorded in 4 days, well it might have been who knows… but the twist is that this EP actually turns into a full functioning synth! A playable instrument. Amazing. When i first heard/seen Breton they were described as post-punk dubstep. Eh??? What a ridiculous “genre” to lump someone into. This is good old fashioned experimental pop at it’s best, yes, there are elements of dub throughout with the classic wonky basslines and drops that the genre is known for but this is purely music evolving. Music taking on new forms. They have the influences of bands like Foals and Minnaars which shine through in their songs but they are a band who distinctly have their own sound. Just don’t call them post punk dubstep. Call them the future.
5. TEEN DAZE – FOUR MORE YEARS EP
1. Four More Years
2. Gone For The Summer*free download*
5. No Regrets
6. Shine On, You Crazy White Cap
8. Spin Around, Go Ahead
This could arguably be an album but we’ll go with it as an EP. Either way it’s the perfect example of repetitive, relaxing electronica. Woozy, tender, percussive and very melodic. Call this whatever you want. Glo-fi, chillwave, shoegaze etc. It’s a masterpiece in synth euphoria. There’s the whole tingling feeling when you hear certain sounds washing through the speakers. The laid back vocals only serve to heighten the senses even more. An album? An EP? A work of art.
4. SOLAR BEARS – INNER SUNSHINE EP
1. Trans Waterfall *free download*
2. Photo Negative Living
3. Inner Sunshine
4. Kill On
5. Crystaline (Leatherette Remix)
6. Twin Stars (Lone Remix)
This was my introduction to Solar Bears and what a first impression. It’s warm and evocative. The Irish duo specialise in cosmic, spacey sounds and on this EP that’s exactly what they serve up. It’s a quite unique blend of instruments that are used to create these sounds and every fleeting synth is partnered with a glitchy drum pattern. They’re not just synth boffins though. They love a bit of guitar (acoustic and electric) which becomes more and more prominent as the EP comes to its final destination. Add in a few remixes and you’ve got yourself a Top 5 EP of the year.
3. CIVIL CIVIC – 1 EP
1. Less Unless
2. Baghdad Breal
3. C27 *free download*
5. Stacks ON
I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again……these guys are one of my favourite finds of the last year or so. They’re everything i adore about music. They’re bursting with ideas and they strike me as the kind of guys who are not ones to hang around when it comes to putting those ideas into music form as soon as possible. And that’s the way it should be. They combine the elements of electronic music and rock music to create a mixture which, to me, should simply be described as “the Civil Civic sound”. They’ve managed to do something that a lot of bands find very hard to do by being massively original. They’re a band that i feel i can learn something from, as strange as that may sound. I was absolutely gutted that they had to cancel their Glasgow show last month but i’m sure they’ll play here soon and when they do i’ll be there to soak up all they have to offer.
2. SUPLEX THE KID – THE TRINITY TEST EP
1. Rebuild The Machines
2. All Beneath An Iron Sky
3. Duck And Cover Charlie Brown *free download*
Enigmatic and imaginative. This EP from the Glasgow outfit hits all the right instrumental post rock buttons. Intricate and chimey at stages but never veering away from the deafeningly loud formula that serves them so well. The EP is full of little climaxes and breakdowns that surge and sear their way around the epicness. Some parts are soaked in reverb and distortion, not drenched, but soaked just to the right level. Comparisons with their peers are inevitable but STK will know that and it’s only a matter of a time until they’re mentioned in the same breath as bands like Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky and 65dos.
1. BLACKBIRD BLACKBIRD – MODERN DISBELIEF EP
1. Modern Disbelief *free download*
2. Starlight (feat. Steffaloo)
3. Crumble Before Your Eyes
4. Fly (feat. Steffaloo)
This EP is short but sweet. It wraps you up in a musical blanket and takes you on a little journey into another world. Into the world of Mikey Sanders aka Blackbird Blackbird. Hard working and tirelessly giving us track after track through 2010, there was always the danger that we could get bored of Blackbird Blackbird. That he could’ve gotten stale. But there was never a fear of that after he continually produced little dream pop gems like the ones on display here. Yes, a lot of his material sounds similar at times but that’s because it’s HIS sound. Coincidentally Sanders has actually taken a more experimental route with some of the newer tracks he has posted on his soundcloud page recently. He’s constantly striving to bring us new music and each new track seems to offer just that little bit more into the goings on in mind of this one man music machine.
Honourable mentions go to “Shaved” by Babe Rainbow, the Flats EP, Girls for their “Broken Dreams Club” EP, Balam Acab and the “See Birds” EP, Million Young with the “Be So True” EP and Dam Mantle’s effort “Grey” EP. I’m sorry i couldn’t fit everybody in!
S.I.T Wolf X