In music, albums and singles are praised all the time–whether it be at the Grammys or by an arts and entertainment magazine or just some dude’s blog.
However, EPs (extended plays for you those of you not with it), the no man’s land between singles and albums, often go unrecognized. After thinking about it, I confirmed that I did, in fact, listen to enough of them to put together a little list.
These are the ones that have stuck with me.
Mudhoney – Superfuzz Bigmuff (1988)
I imagine when all the hair metal bands in LA heard this, they just collectively shit their pantaloons.
Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden are the bands that get credit for starting the grunge movement, but Mudhoney was really the heart and soul of that scene. Before the success of Nevermind, this is the record that put Sub Pop on the map.
Mission of Burma – Signals, Calls and Marches (1981)
I remember hearing “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver” for the first time and thinking this is one of the best things I’ve ever heard.
Mission of Burma were all trained musicians (in a scene where that wasn’t necessarily positive) and thus knew where to bend the rules. The complex compositions (relative to contemporaries) and strategic use of noise and feed back created a one-of-a-kind sound you’re not likely to forget.
Minor Threat – Minor Threat (1981)
When you get into punk music there are a few bands you’re required to listen to, Minor Threat is one of them.
It only clocks in at about 9 and a half minutes, but Minor Threat’s first EP is a powder keg of aggression and exuberance.
At this age, it’s hard to get behind some of the youthful righteousness of the EP. But, when I have a rough day at work, “I Donna Wanna Hear It” is the perfect form of catharsis.
Fugazi – Furniture (2001)
Fugazi is another Ian Mackaye band that seems to be required listening. The band was rooted in punk but moved away from the brevity and bluntness of the hardcore scene.
I think most Fugazi fans might be inclined to favor the band’s first self-titled EP or Margin Walker, but it’s always been Furniture for me.
It’s only three songs, but it’s 8:51 of brilliance. “Number 5” is one of my favorite instrumental songs because it’s so unrelenting.
Superchunk – The Question is How Fast (1992)
Superchunk, like Guided by Voices, can be a difficult band to get into simply because of the sheer volume of its back catalog.
Here’s the thing, you can start anywhere.
I started with Tossing Seeds, a singles collection, but eventually worked my way through the band’s other work. The Question is How Fast is the EP, out of many, that I listened to first, so it holds a special place.
Archers of Loaf – Vs the Greatest of All Time (1994)
Archers of Loaf isn’t for everyone.
The band has fairly accessible songs such as “Wrong” and “Plumbline,” but a large part of its discography skews toward noisy and weird.
Noisy and weird is exactly why I like this EP, though.
Pavement – Watery, Domestic (1992)
This EP exemplifies Stephen Malkmus’ wry talk-singing and marks the start of Pavement’s cleaner sound.
For Pavement fans, it’s a must have.
Texas is the Reason – Texas is the Reason (1995)
I miss this kind of emo/post-hardcore music.
Texas is the Reason was only around long enough to put out one EP, one album, a split with The Promise Ring and two singles. Perhaps, it’s better that way, though. The concentrated body of work is nearly perfect.
The Promise Ring – The Horse Latitudes (1997)
I guess technically this isn’t a true EP–it’s a collection of singles and b sides that was released between 30 Degrees Everywhere and Nothing Feels Good.
Along with other bands such as Texas is the Reason, Braid, Mineral, American Football and The Getup Kids, The Promise Ring was a staple in 90s emo music.
And I know Davey von Bohlen often sings off-key and has a lisp, but I just don’t care when the result it this:
Delta Spirit – The Waits Room EP (2010)
The first Delta Spirit song I heard was the History From Below version of “Bushwick Blues.” I immediately connected with it and started searching for the band’s other work.
I soon found a lo-fi version of it and “Devil Knows You’re Dead.” I was hooked.
Delta Spirit – I Think I’ve Found It (2006)
While I was looking through the band’s catalog, I came across this EP as well.
It’s great because it contains an energetic, upbeat song like “Gimme Some Motivation” along with a heartbreaking song like “Streetwalker.” The emotional breadth is especially impressive, considering constraints of an EP.
The Black Keys – The Moan (2004)
“The Moan” is one of the my favorite Black Keys songs, and it contains one of the guitar riffs I use to trick people into thinking I can actually play.
Coming after Thickfreakness, it perfectly encapsulates the Black Keys early sound.
The Black Keys – Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough (2006)
Chulahoma is essentially a mini tribute album to Junior Kimbrough.
If you listen to Kimbrough’s records, which I highly suggest, you can hear his obvious influence on the Black Keys.
The Loved Ones – The Loved Ones (2005)
This EP is just straight up fun. It’s good ole’ fashioned pop-punk for people whose first album was And Out Come the Wolves or Dookie.
It’s not groundbreaking, but with songs such as “100K,” “Chicken” and “Candy Cane” it’s just so easy to get into.
Jawbreaker – Chesterfield King (1992)
I feel like I’m cheating, since all of the songs on Chesterfield King appear on the full-length Bivouac.
The EP is listed in the bands official discography, though, so I’m counting it.