EPs are like a dolphin’s sonar: they’re little packets of sound that an artist or band sends out into the world to test the musical landscape. Are my fans feeling my sound? How big is my fanbase? Do they like this link of album art? Do I think a full album would sell if it sounds like this?
Occasionally, an artist nails an EP, they sell like hot cakes, and major record label deals follow — see Frank Ocean and his 2011 project Nostalgia, Ultra. But more often, EPs fly under the radar of all but the most in-tune music fanatics.
So, below is a list of 10 awesome EPs of 2013 that didn’t get enough love.
BANKS London EP
If you don’t live in Los Angeles and/or run a music blog, you haven’t heard of BANKS, but prepare to hear her name and her music a lot come 2014, because her 4-track London EP was delicate, thoughtful, tragic, you know, shit like that.
Get it via iTunes.
Also for LA, JMSN has been around the underground R&B scene for much longer than BANKS, but the follow-up to his 2012 Priscilla fell flat in the promotional buzz department, for no good reason.
Hear it on his SoundCloud.
FKA Twigs EP 2
While Miley Cyrus was running around licking things and twerking, female singer FKA Twigs actually released some sexually charged music that raised questions about female sexuality, rather than just being arousing.
With albums like Daft Punk‘s Random Access Memories, CHVRCHES‘ The Bone of What You Believe, and Holy Ghost!‘s Dynamics, 2013 was the year of the synth. But with their self-titeld EP, duo Phantogram proved that the resurgence of electro-charged music can take many forms.
Get it off their website.
Sampha Dual EP
You could consider 2013 as Sampha‘s break out year for no other reason than that he was featured on a Drake song, but his stripped down Dual EP was a far bigger musical accomplishment than “Too Much”.
Get it off his record label’s website.
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib Deeper EP
Two of hip hop’s biggest names — one a thoughtful producer, the other a hardcore rapper — came together for a surprisingly inventive short project. It was definitely for the backpackers.
Listen on Pitchfork.
Rockie Fresh and Casey Veggies Fresh Veggies
Their names were too perfect to not combine, luckily their rap styles meshed pretty perfectly as well. This one was for the skateboarders and street kids.
Download it off DatPiff.
Rich Homie Quan I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In
Rich Homie Quan has flown under the mainstream rap radar for basically forever. So much so, that the Atlanta rapper decided that he had to re-release his I Promise I Will Never Stop Going In this year, rather than let the project die in the backwaters of Hip Hop’s mixtape pool.
You need to give it a listen on DatPiff.
Johnny Rain Villain EP
Johnny Rain‘s dark, twisted Villain EP is like some strange mashup between Kanye West‘s Yeezus and Drake‘s Nothing Was The Same; it’s occasionally loud and intense, occasionally soft and reserved, always thoughtful.
Download it off his website.
MØ Bikini Daze EP
Chance The Rapper Acid Rap
It seemed that Chance The Rapper was all music publications could write about this year, so, actually Acid Rap EP DID get enough love in 2013. The only problem, he didn’t get paid for it. In fact, bootleggers made more money from the EP sales than he did.
So, for 2014, Chance, your New Years Resolution needs to be “I will drop an album in 2014 and actually get paid for my hard work and creativity by not giving it away for free.”
The 1975 The 1975
2013′s biggest British Rock album may have been Arctic Monkeys‘ AM, but up-and-coming group The 1975 dropped a self-titled collection of their work-to-date that gave the more discerning — i.e. less pop-inclined — rock consumer, something to get excited about.
Get it off iTunes.