Woo! Another list of music created on a whim to show off my music taste and possible egotism. Last years best-of list was awfully compiled (not to say last years picks were bad). Missed a lot of key releases like Barrow’s Being Without and The Caution Children’s Unknown Lands.
Oh well. This year, I took the time to listen to as much music as I could so I won’t replicate that mistake. I also took some college writing classes so I can brush up on my skills. Discovered a lot of new bands and enjoyed loads of great music. The long tiring journey is over and here are the 10 best EPs I listened to in the 365 days of musical bombardment. Stay tuned for the best LPs of the year later on this month.
SHARK BAIT - Phantom Feelings [13 December 2012]
Have you listened to this band yet? Not even their split with Adaje(RIP)? NO? What is your problem? They dropped ‘Phantom Feelings’ in mid-December. Pretty late. Although, I’ve given it enough time to let it sink in and make a pretty fair judgement on whether or not to include it on this list. It was just too good to leave out. It’s all the little things that make this EP special, even the voicemail left at the end of ‘So Long’. Shark Bait are surely still growing to become a bigger and better band. ‘Phantom Feelings’ is proof of that.
Phantom Feelings was released on CD through Carucage Records.
THINGS FALL APART - Keep Calm [13 April 2012]
Things Fall Apart are babes. However, they made me choose between two EPs of theirs to put on this list: Tim and Keep Calm. Two stellar EPs that each had their own stand-out tracks and special moments. It was a tough call. In the end, I choose Keep Calm because of the track ‘Earth Day’. Every time I have listened to that track, I was left with goosebumps. Although, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the EP wasn’t up to par. Tracks like ‘Walhalla’ and ‘Sun Dress’ are also incredible. This whole EP is incredible. Things Fall Apart are incredible. I can’t wait to hear what these guys can do on a full length. Hopefully 2013 will make my TFA dreams come true. Please.
Keep Calm was released on cassette through Turn of the Century Records.
MISSIVE - Not A Minute Goes By [19 October 2012]
This band makes me happy like no other. I honestly was not expecting this EP to be this good. They went beyond every expectation I had for them. No offense. I liked their track ‘Acceptance’ that they let me use for the third compilation, just did not know how they were going to expand off that sound. I finally gave Not A Minute Goes By a chance later in the year and it blew my mind. ‘Brother’ is probably one of the best tracks of the year (if I was going to be doing a best tracks of the year list I would totally put it on there…I’m not). Front to back, this EP is stellar. I’m also running out of cheesy adjectives to describe this EP. These California boys are unforgettable.
Not A Minute Goes By is only available digitally.
VIOLET EYES - A Letter To Spell Endings [14 August 2012]
This band deserves to be talked about. I took a stroll through the bandcamp skramz tag and found this EP. Didn’t know what to expect judging from the cover; never heard anything about them either. I was totally blown away. If you’re a fan of the late classic 90’s screamo/hardcore bands like Orchid, Pg.99, and Neil Perry, than you will enjoy this band a whole lot. Probably to the point that you have a stupid grin track after track. This band is either going to be ridiculously huge or they are going to disappear like all good things in this world do. Hopefully the former will be true.
“And then you told me to sit beneath that dead tree, with the sun beating down on me, and I was so thrilled when you came close, but it’s dark under the shade of wings. And I don’t need your placation anymore. I need you.”
A Letter To Spell Endings is only available digitally.
O’ GOD THE WHITE WHALE - Never Knows Best [29 June 2012]
Punk is not a patriarch. Nowadays, we have bands like Punch, Cerce, Mahria, Lord Snow, Stresscase, Heart On My Sleeve, Code Orange Kids, etc. etc., paving the way. It’s getting to the point where people no longer have to segregate these hardcore bands by gender because they are becoming all the more frequent (none of this ‘female-fronted hardcore’ business). O’ God the White Whale is no exception to this greatness. Never Knows Best is one fucking intense release. They incorporate a lot of elements into this EP; six tracks of sweet hard screamo riffs, a taste of post-hardcore here and there, and periods where they grind ‘n pound. Personal favorite parts is where they combine the power of dual vox and create utter chaos with the rest of the band (‘A Bird for the Worms’). Beauty.
Never Knows Best is available on cassette through Driftwood Records.
PLACE CALLED HOME - Eternal Sunshine [04 June 2012]
Spent hours trying to find a band photo of these guys and just gave up. Instead, I just used a picture of two classy cats loitering in a public restroom. Is this an accurate representation of their music? Maybe. The choice is yours. Eternal Sunshine uses the infamous fusion of sad emo boy blues and chaotic screamo. There are portions where the EP gets darker, especially with the track ‘Son of Mad Man’ which is packed with a haunting spoken word and an eerie piano. The Midwest Emo has moved to the West Coast it seems like, so pack your bags kids, time to get sad somewhere else.
Eternal Sunshine is available on CD and cassette through Driftwood Records.
CAUST - Mass Graves (We Would Be Better Off) [14 July 2012]
Caust has been and always will be one of my favorite bands to have ever participated on the compilations. Their previous EP, Page Turner, was nothing short of outstanding. Mid-July, they dropped this beast on the world. This EP is chock full of raw emotion and power. It is reminiscent of the late 90’s screamo bands like the legendary Orchid and The Kodan Armada. If you also did not know, The Kodan Armada is my favorite screamo band; so to hear the little Kodan reference in the track ‘Sallekhana’, that goes “It’s not you I hate, it’s your fucking faith” (Original Kodan Armada lyric from ‘Cops’: “It’s not you I hate, it’s your fucking race”); it made me happy beyond belief. Long live Kodan.
Mass Graves (We Would Be Better Off) is available on cassette through It’s A Trap! Records.
FOXES - 5-Track EP [19 February 2012]
I never heard of Foxes before this EP. They sort of splashed onto the scene, gathering all sorts of acclaim when this 5-track was released. Taking the time to listen to this beauty was time well spent. The vocals on this are relentless. They have a unique blend of post-rock and violent emo, similar to that of Pianos Become the Teeth and Iselia, but maintaining it’s own style with some experimentation. This EP is filled with variety and should please almost anyone who is a fan of screamo music. Australia is home to one of the best new screamo bands out today; hopefully we will see them travel to the states and/or wherever you are in due time.
5-Track EP is available on 180 Gram 12” Vinyl from Dog Knights Productions.
OLD GRAY - Everything I Let Go & The Things I Refuse To [11 November 2012]
I did not expect much when the new Old Gray EP was announced. Didn’t know how they were going to follow up on their previous EP, Do I Dare Disturb The Universe. It’s been awhile since they released any new material too; almost a year in between Everything I Let Go and their Girl Scouts split. However, I’m not going to lie to you to say that I was not excited. I could not wait to hear this. My friend called me when ‘359 Pine’ first premiered. I was floored by that short song alone. Days after, the entire EP started to stream over at AbsolutePunk. We piled into my other friend’s tiny kitchen to listen to it. Old Gray played a vital part into the formation of my own band so it was key to listen to this with them and wallow in disbelief. I could not believe how outstanding this thing was. Increasingly darker and more polished than Do I Disturb, they went above and beyond all my expectations. The ‘359 Pine/Resonance’ video is still one of the most beautiful music videos I have ever seen. I could say more about this EP, but the big factor on why it is so high on this list is that it puts me in goosebumps after every listen.
NOT OK. - S/T [13 May 2012]
Saving the best for last? You bet your ass. I discovered this band through another band and a personal favorite of mine, Sunlight Ascending (a post-rock band from Clawson, MI). I finally seen Sunlight Ascending live earlier in the year with Barrow and Tharsis They at a small little skateshop in Dearborn called Refuge. They literally shook the entire shop and every emotion in my body, playing one of the best sets I have ever seen. Soon after, I heard that members of Sunlight Ascending started another depressing band that had influences of screamo, hardcore, and noise. In my mind, that sounds like the greatest thing I will ever listen too. Case in point, it was. The self-titled EP is relentless. It’s powerful. It’s pretty fucking sad. It is utterly perfect.
But seeing Not Ok. live is a whole other experience. Their set radiates with emotion and intensity. Vocalist Brenden Therrien puts on a ski mask at the start of their set and turns into a completely different person, bulldozing his way through their crowd as they open with the song ‘Torrence’. The first time I seen them was at Best Friends Fest at the Bearcave with bands like Dead Church and Sawchuk. They, by far, played the best set of the entire festival. I seen them recently again in Royal Oak opening for bands Hollow Earth, Great Reversals, and Axis. They, again, played one of the best sets of the entire show (even though their set was four songs). Enough worshiping though. This band is amazing. This EP is amazing. To me, this is definitely the best EP of the year.
“A broken heart never mends, those scars never fade. I have lifted mountains just to see them fall once again, darling mountain, this will fall. You have failed me for the last time, failed me. Love lost.”
S/T is only available digitally.
Sorry for being lame. I tried to write these better than last time. Hope you enjoyed!
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