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BEST EPS OF 2017

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The best EPs of 2017, as approved by the Playlistplay staff. A mass of damn good music of the short playing variety, compiled in no particular order ’cause we love ’em all.

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Goon,
Happy Omen

Most bands that lean more toward a vintage surf rock sound don’t just happen to play FADER FORT at SXSW. But this band was a surprise in the lineup, and it was just enough to catapult their “Happy Omen” EP into the ears – and hearts – of many. Featuring six tracks that could just as well be included in a trance mix as they could at an indie rock show – including our favorite “A Window Outside”, “Happy Omen” is the most blissed out release of 2017. Period.

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-Meredith

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Bishop Briggs,
Bishop Briggs

Though she started to garner mass amounts of attention in 2016 (Anyone ever heard “River”? On the Fences trailer? In an episode of The Mindy Project? Elsewhere?), but it wasn’t until this year that she dropped her self-titled 6-track debut EP into our laps. Including fan favorites like “River” and “Wild Horses”, the album takes us on robust vocal journeys through heartbreak with deep bass lines and a very wild, freeing feeling riddled throughout.

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-Meredith

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Tennis
We Can Die Happy

Not only did they release one of 2017’s best LPs, “Yours Conditionally”, indie pop duo Tennis gifted us with the equally lush yet uniquely groovy EP “We Can Die Happy”. Right out the gate, real life married duo of Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, propel you on a 5 song journey with the captivating ‘No Exit’. Moore’s confident and comforting voice moves you both physically and emotionally, shining through best in ‘I Miss That Feeling’, Moore’s “love letter to her constant companion, anxiety”. Press play and let the bewitching melodies gleefully whisk you away from your own reality, which should solidify ‘We Can Die Happy’ as a heavy rotation listen for the foreseeable future.

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-Austin

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Middle Kids
Middle Kids EP

Maybe it’s the heartwarming and soulful voice of Hannah Joy, perhaps the tantalizing progressive basslines from Tim Fitz, or the ripping drum beats provided by Harry Day, but these Middle Kids will not be forgotten any time soon. Ok, those factors plus Joy’s memorable yet charming dancing on stage that resembles a mix between the Funky Chicken and the Charleston. Anyways, their 6 song self titled EP showcases the Australian trio’s incredible knack of delivering infectious hooks paired with their liberating sonic sound. For a group less than 2 years old, the anticipation for their future full length record is palpable. But for now you can find solace in the frenzied yet steady ballads on one of the best EP’s of 2017.

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-Austin

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The Atlantic
Desert

I could gush on this album all day. The powerful riffs, the angst-ridden vocals, the “I-feel-like-I-could-crush-the-world” energy you feel after listening. The words of admiration go on. But I’ll just leave you with this link to my actual review of it.

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-Stevie

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Pine
Pillow Talk

From the capital city of Canada, Ottowa, Ontario, emo quartet Pine blew apart my psyche with Pillow Talk. The first track “Doyla” carries a tone that rips your heart out, spit polishes it, and haphazardly places it back in your chest. The whole album follows suit. There’s a comforting, yet heartbreaking, honesty to these five tracks; all flawlessly delivered by Darlene Deschamps smooth vocals.

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-Stevie

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ZOMBIE-CHANG
GANG!

What a beautifully weird J-Pop album ZOMBIE-CHANG’s “GANG” turned out to be. Admittedly, I have no idea of the lyrical contents of “GANG!”, but I know how it makes me feel! It’s a brilliant album to put on when you’re needing a little pep in that step. Highly recommended for when you need to get some work done. Also, check out the video for “I CAN’T GET TO SLEEP”, trust me on this.

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-Stevie

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McCafferty
Thanks. Sorry. Sure.

As a grown up emo kid, McCaffery’s ‘Thanks. Sorry. Sure.’ is a sum of my teenage feelings as if they grew up with me. The 6 song EP provokes the feelings I had for Blink-182 as an angsty 15 year old but resolves to be a little more mature and relatable 13 years later. For long time fans, the EP is a perfect and natural progression in the band’s discography without leaving anything to be desired. Each track is perfection, especially if you have the chance to scream the words aloud at a McCafferty live show with a crowd of fellow emo souls.

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-Savanna

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Deer Leap
Winds & Words

Is “dreamo” a term we use to describe music yet? You know, like dreamy-emo music? If it’s not I’m coining it on behalf of Playlistplay. “Winds & Words” perfectly fits that. Chock full of whirring and dynamic guitars, driving lyrics, and a whole lot of heart, Deer Leap is back and we’re all paying attention.

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-Stevie

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Kat King
Falling Up

This isn’t the Kat King you know. This is the brand new, highly experimental Kat King; and I’m here for it. Without giving up her signature charm, King takes “Falling Up” to the next level with heavy use of samples, looping, droning keys, vocal harmonies, and so on. I’ve never felt more at ease while having my heart beat up before. Listen with good headphones, there’s little treasures all over this EP.

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-Stevie

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NVDES
LA NVDITE Vol 1.

In their sophomore EP, NVDES finds a luminescence reminiscent of their homebase, Los Angeles. Buoyant electro-pop riffs accompany tongue-in-cheek lyrics to create licks that will float in the space between your ears all day if you let it. Both saccharin and bittersweet, ‘LA NVDITE Vol 1.’ will have you losing yourself in sugary rhythms one minute and questioning the fabric of your existence the next.

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-Anna

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Syd
Always Never Home

Although technically considered a ‘single,’ this three song release carries the weight of a full-length album from the opening track to the last chorus. ‘Always Never Home’ is the unexpected follow-up to Syd’s debut solo album, which hit audiences with hypnotic melodies in February. Examining the transience of life on the road and the slow development of modern relationships, Syd breaks down some difficult realities of the dichotomy between love and attraction.

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-Anna

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Welles
Codeine EP

I imagine at some point, maybe 1987 or 1988, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, some unsuspecting music lover stumbled into a bar and was shocked and amazed having personally discovered Nirvana for the first time. Surely that person must have known that something truly magical was unfolding in front of them. This is exactly how I describe the first time I saw Welles. As soon as frontman Jehsea Welles began to play and sing “Hold Me Like I’m Leaving” I was so immersed, I couldn’t help but think that he had no idea how much power he truly held in that moment, I was captivated. It comes as no surprise that ‘Codeine’ EP so artfully carries the raw emotion that Welles portrays live. You’ll be transported to a special place and you’ll never want to leave.

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-Savanna

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Hembree
Had It All

The highlight of what’s been a career-making year for Hembree, ‘Had It All’ hit streaming platforms in early November and took off with a momentum that surprised no one. The KC-based indie rockers spent their fall touring alongside Jr. Jr. and on a run of headlining shows. The budding community of Hembree superfans is just one of many indications of the success we expect for this group to see in 2018.

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-Anna

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TWINKIDS
Boys Love

LA-based duo TWINKIDS introduced us to their intoxicating brand of laptop pop this year with their debut release, ‘Boys Love.’ In an interview with KC-based music publication ‘HearQueer,’ TWINKIDS’ Matt Young noted his love for the transient nature of electronic music; that it brings you to an unnatural dimension in an ‘impossible and non-human’ way. ‘Boys Love’ does as it’s intended to: elevates the listener to an experience beyond the norm. Echoing melodies paired with artistically constructed beats create soundscapes the are both grounding and multi-dimensional.

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-Anna

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Sleigh Bells
Kid Kruschev

Since their 2010 debute, ‘Treats,’ Sleigh Bells has refined and developed their specific recipe of distorted guitar-heavy riffs, trap beats, and lyrical hooks. This year’s 7-track ‘Kid Kruschev’ sees the duo diving into more dynamic melodic structures and subject matter that feels more vulnerable than previous releases. Alexis Krauss’s heart-stopping vocals have become a focal point of every Sleigh Bells song, the soul encased in guitarist Derek Miller’s instrumental body.

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-Anna

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Mess
heartswithholes

An “extro-spective” examination of human relationship dynamics, Mess’s debut EP heartswithholes is as an ode to the dynamics in your youth and early adulthood that eventually shape the person you become. Lyricist/vocalist/instrumentalist Allison Gliesman stepped outside of themselves to write songs that embodied aspects of the human condition that transcended their own personal experience. The band quickly sold through their stock of vinyl pressings of the album; a piece that we assume will one day be a treasured rarity.

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-Anna

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Rubblebucket
If U C My Enemies

Bouncing and bubbly, Rubblebucket’s latest effort since 2014’s Survival Sounds is a reminder to breathe, dance, and forgive. After a year of immense letdowns and heartbreaking surprises, this EP as well as the title track reminds us that, in order to move forward, we have to confront our problems through understanding and occasional forgiveness. We have to meet our enemies eye to eye and no drop to their standards. And sometimes it’s ok to just not open our eyes for a while.

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-Nick

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