In terms of EPs, 2010 was the year I took a lot of chances and found an equal amount of gems. Sweet treasure chest for me! Here are my favourite ten:
10. Looking Glass – The First Real Target
This spin-off of British pop-rock band My Sad Captains released a pleasant set of four tracks, a bit softer than the band’s previous material, but albeit quite similar. Still, it found a comforting spot with me, as folk guitars and synths combine in a lullaby formula. I should have posted about them months and months and months ago, but somehow it escaped me. So this is a thrice extra urged statement that you should check them out. Stream the tracks and download “Best Foot Forward” here.
9. Sóley – Theater Island
Sóley Stefánsdóttir might be known more for being one of the cutest members of Icelandic pop group Seabear, but her solo work is quite compelling on its own. I found out about her when realizing she would open for Seabear, but unfortunately missed the set. I bought the EP anyway, something I’m usually not likely to take a chance on. But I’m glad I did, as Theatre Island is precious in the most precious of ways. Almost childlike, detailing imaginative stories with a high, pretty voice and an eerily dreamy piano. (She sings in English, by the way, just as in Seabear, who you should also check out.) Download the title track here.
8. Wildlife – Wildlife EP
Alright, so this isn’t a technical EP like the rest, apparently it was more of a teaser for the album. Nonetheless, it came to me through Exclaim and I was caught on a surprising hook. There was something about the song “Stand in the Water” that felt familiar, and no matter how hard I tried to place where I’d heard it before, it kept coming back anyway. I’ve had more time with this ‘EP’ than their album this year, so I’ve put it in this category. Every bit of Wildlife is played with such force, it’s hard not to take notice. Read my full review. Download three tracks here.
7. Kurt Vile – Square Shells
Ah, Kurt Vile. You mysterious, odd character. I was introduced to Vile when I interviewed him for Aux, and his musicianship definitely leaves a mark on anyone. He’s a creative type, the kind of guy that will never fully let you onto his secrets, and you actually don’t even really want to know. His soft psychedelia lets him waltz over a number of topics and emotions, but it also lets him be genuine. This EP can settle you into a nap full of colourful dreams or a rolling train ride (his music always reminds me of The Darjeeling Limited). I’m looking forward to his next album in 2011. Download “Invisibility: Nonexistent” here.
6. ARMS – EP
ARMS came to me as one of those lucky ‘I actually clicked on a press release email link’ times. So glad I did! Their dreamy, woozy tunes with an equal wail of a voice is charming, adventurous. I’ve actually been quite surprised they didn’t get as big as I thought they would this year, as they so deserve it (and fit the demographic of interesting Brooklyn indie rock). I know they’ve been playing quite often though. Hopefully 2011 brings them even more luck. Download the EP here.
5. Little City – The Going and the Gone
Little City is a local Toronto band, whose down-to-earthness is obvious. The Going and the Gone, a five song-long introduction to the group is like the perfect greeting: warm, friendly but leaves you wanting to get to know them more. “Bright Glow” is still one of my favourite songs of 2010. Little City could use a little more footing around the local scene, but I see it happening for them within the next year. Read my full review. Download “Bright Glow” here.
4. Megafaun – Heretofore
It’s so hard not to fall in love this band the moment this EP/mini-album/what have you begins. It’s like a blanket covering you, and even though you’re totally content in this fuzzy moment, you also want to get up and explore what’s going on with the guitars and the electronic blips and bleeps. It moves more into banjos on rocking chairs on the porch category, but by golly it’s fun. Read my full review. Download “Volunteers” here.
3. Courier News – Fixtures
This EP came to me through Exclaim as well. I get tons of really indie stuff in my folder, but it’s rare that something sticks out to me like a diamond in the rough. Courier News of Winnipeg broke through for me with soulful, distinct voices and a nice balance manned by keyboards and random instruments. Read my full review. Download the entire EP (for the holidays) here.
2. Milks and Rectangles – Dirty Gold
It’s been nice watching this band grow. But I’ve been from a distance (they’re from PEI and will finally play Toronto this coming CMW, get excited), so it would have been nicer to see it more up-close, but I’m glad I can still reap their benefits. They continually show how hard they’re working on top of really catchy tunes. This time around, they’ve become a little darker, more confident and it’s exciting. I hope to see much more of them in the future (especially on an album list!). Download the EP (and previous ones as well) here.
1. Bravestation – 2010 EP
This was a pretty obvious choice for me. Besides my #1 EP of 2010, this Toronto band deserves awards in the ‘most hard-working,’ ‘friendliest’ and ‘solid production’ categories (oh and the ‘we adore Foals’ one). They’re on the prowl to impress you, and I don’t see how they could fail at that. This EP packs a lot into fifteen minutes with lush vocals, spacey synths, airy guitars and groovy bass/drums. This EP came with so much more than that though; the band pushed the local scene a lot since the summer release, bringing flattering and crazy crowds to numerous venues and always providing a fun time. Read my full review and interview. Download the EP here.
Really, Really Honourable Mentions: Long Long Long, Dora Alexander, Freedom or Death