Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Maureen Walsh shares her favorite EPs of the year.
Within the past few years, artists have gotten more creative with how they release their music. One trend that is resurging is the EP. The EP used to be an extra set of songs that was released between albums. Lately, however, EPs are a way for artists to put out material and not be constricted to having an entire album’s worth of songs. This frees them to create short experiments and release material more frequently.
1. FOUR by Charlotte Church
Charlotte Church continues her excellent run of EP releases with “Four,” which mixes atmospheric soundscapes and 80’s style r&b. While some of the flourishes are familiar, Church’s powerful voice gives these songs more weight than many others who work within this realm.
2. Do It Again by Robyn and Royksopp
A true collaboration between artists, Robyn’s pop sensibilites mix wonderfully with Royksopp’s more experimental leanings. The opening track “Monument,” is over 8 minutes long; “Say It” is a duet between the singer and a Speak and Spell. Like Church, Robyn is not afraid to take chances and is happily in a position to push boundaries while having the respect of both critics and listeners.
3. We Can Talk Politics & World Affairs by Sugar Tongue Slim
For those who think today’s hip hop has nothing useful to offer, I present you with the following evidence that it is as intelligent and creative as it was in the late 1980’s. It bothers me when even other MC’s are on Twitter pigeon-holing today’s hip hop artists and talking about the good old days but ignore all of the good music that is coming out now, in the year 2014. Sugar Tongue Slim is just one of many who write thoughtful and nuanced pieces about the world around him. This EP covers the trickiness of language (“Why Can’t I Say It?”), the reluctance of others to openly discuss politics (“Questions”) and an ironic discussion of stereotypes (“Hell Wrong”).
4. Get Familiar by Delphic
Delphic is not well known in the US but believe me, they deserve to be checked out. Get Familiar is a representation of their kinetic live shows which mix elements of EDM and quality pop. While the EP is a continuous mix, the styles vary from the zen-like “PPP,” to the clubby “Colours of the Day.” Delphic’s sound is evolving into something more serious and detail-oriented than their time as the recipients of the BBC’s Big in 2010. This EP has a clearer vision than their past work and I’m excited to hear what Delphic have to offer next.
5. Girlpool EP by Girlpool
Reminiscent of 90’s acts such as The Murmurs, early Built to Spill, and Lois Maffeo, Girlpool is angry, cynical and so very talented. The 90’s homage feels organic rather than put on for the sake of riding the riot-grrrl renaissance. Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad’s harmonies are tight and their songs paint pictures of 20-something ennui and life’s cruelties. Despite the subject matter, their songs are spirited and catchy.Charlotte Church, Delphic, Girlpool, Robyn, Royksopp, Sugar Tongue Slim, The Key's Year-End Mania 2014, year end mania 2014