It Was That Kind of Year, EP Edition

It’s the next installment of the year in music, this blog’s annual exercise in working out its author’s need to categorize and share the songs and albums from the previous 12 months the he liked. It’s not for everyone. But you might find something useful.

Today, EPs. EP stands for “Extended Play,” and it refers to a release that isn’t long enough to be considered an album, or “Long Play” (LP). They’re cheaper to produce, and many release LPs before an album. Increasingly, it seems like established acts are releasing EPs though, often in the same year that they release an LP. Both The Decemberists and Lake Street Dive did that this year, presumably in order to publish music they recorded for, but did not ultimately include on, their albums.

There were four EPs that I spent a lot of time with this year. One I’m sure you’ve heard. One I’ve already mentioned. Let’s start with that one.

Freak Yourself Out was released by Lake Street Dive in late November. Because I saw the band about a month earlier, I had heard most of it already. Frankly, if I hadn’t I don’t think it would have registered with me. Still, “Daryl” and “Angioplast” showcase the band’s delightful versatility.

Brett Dennen released two EPs in 2018, and I considered listing them together as an LP. Taken together they’re a solid collection of the folk singer/songwriter’s uptempo turn, but by themselves they kind of make individual statements. They are Dennen’s first recordings for Downtown Records, home to Cold War Kids and David Gray. I’ve known of Dennen for about a decade, but I haven’t loved anything he’s done until these. In particular “Already Gone,” and “Live in The Moment” are total earworms. “Jenny and Jill” has just the loveliest, loveliest harmonic chorus.

Finally, the one I’m sure you’ve heard. In late October, Matador Records released boygenius, a self-titled six-track collection from a female indie rocker supergroup nobody saw coming. Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker who have both recorded for Matador, teamed up with Phoebe Bridgers, whose debut album last year on Dead Oceans was one of my yearly favorites. The result is just stunning, vocally, rhythmically, and lyrically. No doubt, boygenius is one of the best things to happen in 2018 music. There are only six songs, so they’re all standouts. But “Me & My Dog” and “Stay Down” will stay with you.

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