03 Greedo 2018 In Review Amber Mark Aphex Twin Black Dresses Black Thought boygenius Bristletongue Channel Tres converge DRAM Ellis Empath Games Hatchie Jenny Hval Kero Kero Bonito List Nef The Pharaoh Nine Inch Nails No Joy Open Mike Eagle Sonic Boom Sorry Sudan Archives Tierra Whack Valee Warthog Waxahatchee Westerman

Best EPs Of 2018 – Stereogum

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Yearly, the parameters for this record get somewhat extra specious. With the rise of streaming providers and the decline of bodily media, the distinctions between a 7″ and a 12″ have largely pale away. At this time, the whole lot is a “project” or a “collection” or (groan) a “playlist.” Artists are nonetheless releasing EPs in identify, however there’s additionally loads of different music on the market which may qualify as what we’d historically consider as much less of an album and extra of an EP. The truth is, this yr it’s gotten so particularly complicated that we’ve devoted a whole essay to the subject, penned by my colleague Chris DeVille, that makes an attempt to detangle the complicated borders we now function in.

However we’re additionally marching forward with our Nice EPs record — as we now have in 2015, 2016, and 2017 — as a result of we consider that there’s worth within the brief-type and in addition as a result of this record lets us shine some mild on musicians which may have made our rating of the 50 Best Albums Of 2018. We’ve taken issues on a case-by-case foundation — like, for example, you’ll discover Vince Staples’ FM! over on the albums record, however Tierra Whack’s Whack World has a spot right here — and people standards principally come right down to a matter of intent and notion.

We collectively voted on these as a employees, although I (James, hey) personally wrote about all of them and made a number of the exhausting determinations about what to incorporate and exclude, which signifies that the outcomes in all probability development in the direction of my tastes greater than a real consensus record may. However that additionally signifies that, in fact, this isn’t exhaustive and definitive — one of many nice issues about EPs is that, sadly, typically they slip beneath the radar. With that in thoughts, please depart your picks within the feedback under.

Learn on for Stereogum’s record of 25 Nice EPs from 2018, that are introduced alphabetically. You can too take heed to a playlist of the alternatives on Spotify.

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03 Greedo & Nef The Pharaoh – Porter 2 Grape (KILFMB / SICKWIDIT / EMPIRE)

03 Greedo began his 20 yr jail sentence this summer time, however that didn’t cease the Los Angeles rapper from releasing an awesome quantity of music this yr. His collaboration with Nef The Pharaoh got here out proper across the time he went behind bars, however Porter 2 Grape largely operates in a earlier than context. Greedo and Nef show to be fascinating foils — the latter’s crisp supply is extra becoming on get together songs, which a lot of the tracks on Porter 2 Grape are, however he has Greedo there leveling him out, providing a darker and extra blurred perspective.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

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Amber Mark – Conexão (PMR / Virgin EMI)

Amber Mark made it onto this listing final yr together with her debut three:33am EP, and the New York-based mostly musician is at it once more. Working inside the main label system, it’s maybe a strategic option to put out shorter releases whereas concurrently constructing buzz for a debut album breakthrough, however Mark additionally has the type of emotional depth that works in contained bursts. Her second launch, Conexão, is loungey and free-flowing, much less involved with making huge statements than evoking a selected temper. It features a fantastic cowl of Sade’s “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” that perhaps hints on the type of inventive integrity that Mark is striving for, and on Conexão she largely hits that focus on sq. on.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

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Aphex Twin – Collapse (Warp)

Since rising from his decade-lengthy hiatus in 2014, Aphex Twin has managed to remain within the highlight. His newest launch comes within the type of Collapse, 5 songs that lead Richard D. James’ lengthy-standing challenge down a bunch of various corridors. Anchored by its opening monitor “T69 collapse,” which aches and pulls and disintegrates in the best way that solely an Aphex Twin music can, the remainder of the EP has a ton to supply — cerebral digital music that also, in any case these years, feels instinctual and has the power to shock at each flip.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

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Black Clothes – HELL IS REAL (Self-launched)

Devi McCallion has had an enormous yr: with Im Determined, first launched as Women Rituals, although that identify has been retired in favor of Dei Genetrix; with Katie Dey, who launched a collaborative album with McCallion this fall; and with Black Clothes, a duo with Rook that has put out a full-size, WASTEISOLATION, and an EP, HELL IS REAL, this yr. All of those disparate tasks are threaded collectively by McCallion’s confrontational model of pop, and on HELL IS REAL particularly it’s distilled with a primal urgency. That this can be a shorter assortment permits the duo to actually push the envelope with their aural assaults, like on its title monitor, which disintegrates right into a staticky rush which may make you assume your audio system are damaged, or on “TRY NEW THINGS,” which crackles and pops like ASMR. Black Clothes are making a few of the most enjoyable, boundary-pushing pop of the second, and HELL IS REAL is a becoming snapshot of all their expertise.
HEAR IT: Bandcamp

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Black Thought – Streams Of Thought Vol. 1 (Human Re Sources)

Black Thought has been round for a very long time and you may hear it. Tariq Luqmaan Trotter raps with a world-weary confidence that comes from holding down the all-timer group the Roots, which signifies that he’s seen a whole lot of shit. On Streams Of Thought, Vol. 1, he steps out on his personal for the primary time and the entire thing crackles with the convenience of somebody who is aware of that he has nothing to show however nonetheless needs to place his greatest foot ahead anyway. Vol. 1 is a collaboration with producer ninth Thought; the second quantity, which got here out in November, was achieved totally with Salaam Remi. It’s simply as spectacular, however there’s one thing concerning the fervor with which Black Thought goes at it right here — sometimes lapping friends like Types P and Rapsody — that feels impressively and urgently recent for somebody that’s been at it for over three many years.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

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Boygenius – Boygenius (Matador)

It’s virtually too good to be true. Three singer-songwriters on the rise get collectively to speak store — to match document label offers and speak about one of the best methods to remain sane on tour and dish over the various shitty elements of the business — and find yourself funneling all of that power into an impeccable venture generally known as Boygenius. Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus are all superb musicians in their very own proper, and on their first launch as Boygenius (at the least, let’s pray it’s not the one one), they raise one another up and problem one another to wonderful-tune their craft. There’s no sense of competitors on Boygenius, however there’s the sense that each one of those writers actually introduced their A-recreation to this collaboration. Boygenius has extra depth and feeling than most full-lengths launched this yr, and it’s the type of assortment of songs the place everybody has a special favourite and your personal favourite might change as time goes on.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Bristletongue – Femme Florale (Prairie State)

Femme Florale comes throughout like an extended sigh. The debut launch from Illinois 4-piece Bristletongue is a temper piece, with L Morgan’s voice shading basically malaise with a staggering emotional depth. “I think too much of death,” they admit on its opening monitor. Femme Florale is a decent and thought of music quartet that repeats and repurposes comparable imagery in imaginary methods — a locked groove that threatens to overhaul you. The band’s rigorously composed swells of submit-rock maintain a few of the darker tides at bay, reminding you that there’s magnificence on the planet even when it seems like all is misplaced.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Channel Tres – Channel Tres (Godmode)

Channel Tres is the newest product out of the Godmode music pipeline, the influential label that has served because the incubator for fellow future stars like Yaeji and Shamir. On the undertaking’s debut launch, the Compton producer adopts an icy detachment over insular home beats. These songs wiggle and shake with subtlety, a far cry from his virtually-been profession as an EDM DJ. “Controller” is Channel Tres’ calling card proper now and, like loads of nice dance songs, it’s concerning the overwhelming energy of the music itself. “Throw some sub in that bitch,” he adlibs. “You wanted to find a rhythm that’ll make you move.”
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

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Converge – Lovely Break (Epitaph / Deathwish)

Lovely Destroy principally ends simply as quickly because it begins, however within the seven minutes it does have, Converge depart nothing of their wake. It’s the comply with-as much as the Boston hardcore group’s The Nightfall In Us from final yr and it’s ostensibly made up of leftovers from that recording session, however these 4 songs work so nicely as a breakneck quartet that it’s arduous to think about them in another means. The guitar work on “Churches And Jails” is subsequent degree; the extreme “Melancholia” conjures up a snarling fever dream. The truth that these are just a few additionally-rans speaks to the fearsome energy of Converge.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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DRAM – That’s A Woman’s Identify (EMPIRE / Atlantic)

DRAM inhabited a joyful infectiousness on his 2016 debut album, Massive Child D.R.A.M., however it had been some time since we had heard from him earlier than he put out That’s A Women Identify earlier this yr. The title is a play on the truth that his first identify is Shelley, and the three songs right here equally defy expectations whereas nonetheless displaying that he’s nonetheless obtained it. They go for a extra laid-again soulfulness that acts as a pleasant distinction to the pressing happiness that characterizes his largest songs, extra luxurious and fewer frenetic of their execution.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

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Ellis – The Fuzz (Self-launched)

Linnea Siggelkow moved from an enormous metropolis to a smaller metropolis and her debut EP as Ellis displays that change, like a clenched fist lastly let unfastened. There’s an attractive rigidity launch that occurs on The Fuzz, six songs of completely executed dream-pop that herald in an thrilling new voice to the style. Together with her band, Siggelkow sounds scrappily exact — her songs are gauzy waking goals till abruptly they’re not, clicking into place with a pointy aid that mirrors the wandering intentions of her lyrics. The Fuzz is all about tone, and it’s delightfully dynamic contemplating the muted palette it typically works in, imbuing these blues and grays with one thing deeper.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Empath – Liberating Guilt And Worry (Get Higher)

Empath’s tape will get its identify from an historic therapeutic frequency that’s meant to rid you of guilt and worry, and the Philadelphia-based mostly band makes simply the sort of music that may break by way of the noise with, properly, an entire lot of noise. It’s New Age philosophy with a snarling edge. They visitors in chaotic bursts of power, muddying up fierce hooks and nature sounds to create one thing that feels vibrantly alive. Empath paint in main colours, after which invert these colours so that you’re by no means fairly positive what’s happening. Liberating Guilt And Worry is deliberately messy, superbly damaged down and frantic. It reels you in and retains you enthralled like little or no else this yr.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Hatchie – Sugar & Spice (Double Double Whammy)

The 5 songs on Hatchie’s debut Sugar & Spice EP are glowing. Harriette Pillbeam’s dream-pop undertaking is extra on the pop aspect of the equation, which signifies that her hooks aren’t buried beneath environment however slightly stand up, transcendent and unimpeachable. Every monitor feels prefer it might soundtrack a highschool film’s finish dance scene — and, in time, they hopefully will — and it’s enjoyable to think about the totally different sorts of climaxes they conjure up: a jilted ex, a jealous hopefulness, the calming settling if you’re wrapped within the arms of the one you actually love, amidst the twinkling lights. This Australian band has a cinematic energy, one which’s positive to be deepened on no matter comes subsequent.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Jenny Hval – The Lengthy Sleep (Sacred Bones)

The Norwegian experimentalist Jenny Hval makes music that’s dense with concepts — her final two albums have explored gender dynamics and financial inequality with a heady lens — however on The Lengthy Sleep she leaves most of her proselytizing by the wayside, choosing a extra instinctual and fewer mental strategy. Meaning songs that function in circuitous rhythms, just like the 10-minute-lengthy title monitor, which meanders and pops like a foggy dream, or the somnambulant, disco-inflected “Spells.” It’s a fruitful new avenue for an artist that’s so typically outlined by her phrases. Right here, she focuses on beautiful compositions, offering the identical intimate sweep as the remainder of her music however on a extra impressionistic scale.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Kero Kero Bonito – TOTEP (Self-launched)

Kero Kero Bonito efficiently refined pop to a clear sufficient diploma on Bonito Era that the London trio felt assured sufficient to maneuver onto a special style altogether, to rework it with their distinctive perspective. The music the UK trio has put out this yr takes cues from shoegaze and indie-rock, and on their sophomore album Time ‘n’ Place they interact in the identical kind of joyous deconstruction that marked their earlier sound. However even stronger is TOTEP, a precursor to the album, which sounds much less muddy and extra distinctive. The shorter runtime does wonders for his or her revamped sound, and right here they sound restlessly dreamy, whether or not they’re freaking out with glitchy abandon on “Only Acting” or chilling out in calm reverie on “Cinema,” they really feel snug and comfortable.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

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9 Inch Nails – Dangerous Witch (Null Company / Capitol)

Trent Reznor tried to breathe new life into the EP format a couple of years in the past when he introduced that 9 Inch Nails can be releasing a trilogy of them, precisely predicting that shorter releases are sometimes higher these days. However, ever the pragmatist, after placing out two of them, he realized that streaming providers gave the brief shrift to EPs of their placement on an artist’s web page, so he reclassified the ultimate entry within the collection, Dangerous Witch, as an album. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless an EP at coronary heart, it doesn’t matter what he says — sorry, Trent — and it’s an amazing EP at that. Dangerous Witch provides up six tracks value of late-period NIN that comply with the trail he and Atticus Ross set out on — a extra cinematic, thought-about period for the group that also has the capability to harness some really haunting, feverish moments.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

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No Pleasure & Sonic Growth – No Pleasure & Sonic Growth (Joyful Noise)

Sonic Growth’s most lasting contribution to this yr is undoubtedly his manufacturing work on Seashore Home’s magnificent album 7, however a number of months earlier than that album hit, the previous Spacemen three member launched an incredible little collaboration with No Pleasure, the ever-shifting Montreal dream-pop challenge fronted by Jasamine White-Gluz. The 2 of them traded tracks throughout the Atlantic, as Kember is predicated in Portugal, and the result’s 4 songs value of serene calm. No Pleasure / Sonic Growth is trance-inducing, an formidable however leveled-out pairing that finds magnificence within the easiest parts.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Open Mike Eagle – What Occurs Once I Attempt To Chill out (Auto Reverse)

What does it imply to be relatable? And is it a blessing or a curse? That’s what Open Mike Eagle grapples with on the opening monitor of his What Occurs Once I Attempt To Chill out EP. He’s an intensely likable hip-hop artist that’s scuffling with what it means to be accessible in 2018. The six tracks right here fixate on that query and strategy it from a kaleidoscope of angles, digging into OME’s persistent nervousness. He makes use of levity to make some wrenching factors concerning the present state of America and, extra particularly, his expertise as a black man in a rustic that’s traditionally silenced marginalized voices, until they’re fetishizing them to their very own ends. “I live in your neighborhood/ That guy you shit talkin’ is right there in back of you/ So try to act natural,” he raps on “Relatable,” which even he admits is “peak OME,” or moderately open and trustworthy to no fault.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Sorry – House Demo/ns Vol 2 (Self-launched)

House Demo/ns Vol II isn’t technically an EP. I assume the easiest way to explain it might be a rock mixtape, and it serves as a calling card for one of many UK’s most promising younger bands. Sorry have a stressed artistic power, and right here songs disappear and morph with a fuzzy turning of the dial. Every concept they hit on is nice and by no means sticks round for lengthy sufficient — it leaves you wanting extra, which is strictly what an incredible EP is meant to do. House Demo/ns Vol II is a decent 22-minutes of wiry guitars and shapeshifting beats, with an intoxicating pull that makes it arduous to disregard.
HEAR IT: Bandcamp

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Sudan Archives – Sink (Stones Throw)

The Ohio-born, LA-based mostly musician Brittney Parks launched Sink, her second EP as Sudan Archives, with an ideal description that’s on-level and slightly zany in the best way that solely an artist can actually present: “Sink describes the way I want my music to make you feel. It’s inspired by my love of fluidity, movement of jellyfish, and water.” Certainly, the songs on Sink wiggle and twist and prickle with Parks’ fascination with the best way we transfer and bodily reply to music. There’s impeccably plucked strings all through, particularly on standout “Nont For Sale,” and the opposite gorgeously glitched-out songs recommend an antsy however supremely assured artist.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Tierra Whack – Whack World (Self-launched)

Each track is strictly a minute. That’s the gimmick of Tierra Whack’s Whack World and it’s a conceit that pays off wonders on the slices of songs that Whack provides as much as us on her debut launch. She shortly cycles via hooks and ingenious concepts that different artists would kill for, and her clean mix of watery R&B sounds prefer it has legs. The Philadelphia-based mostly artist has acknowledged that the minute-lengthy idea wasn’t precisely useful in getting coveted radioplay or playlist placement, however as for making a splash and probably paving the best way to turning into a star? Nicely, it really works simply superb. If she will evoke a lot with songs this brief, think about what she will do with one thing a bit extra fleshed out.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

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Valee – GOOD Job, You Discovered Me (G.O.O.D. Music)

The newest shining star to return out of Chicago and the G.O.O.D. Music universe is Valee. He’s been on the up-and-up for a couple of years now however, his GOOD Job, You Discovered Me EP is his first for Kanye West’s constellation of artists, following up on a pair of 2017 mixtapes. Valee is a dextrous wordsmith and he typically feels like he’s tiptoeing round his tracks, that are sometimes sedate and hypnotic. GOOD Job, You Discovered Me is certainly on a downbeat, however Valee correctly retains his songs brief in order that they’re slight temper items that depart an enduring (and repeatable) impression.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

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Warthog – Warthog (Poisonous State / Static Shock)

Chris Hansell used to scream for the Males and now he screams for Warthog, a New York-based mostly band that’s put out nothing however EPs since they shaped six years in the past. Their newest is self-titled (confusingly, it’s not their first self-titled) and options 4 songs that kick ass. Hansell’s voice is acidic however approachable — very similar to the music he makes with the remainder of the band, which places riffs on prime of riffs on prime of frantic drumming on prime of a by no means-ending barreling ahead momentum. Warthog is an absolute beast of a rush, snarling and gargantuan.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Waxahatchee – Nice Thunder (Merge)

Waxahatchee has solely gotten extra formidable through the years, and final yr’s Out In The Storm was Katie Crutchfield’s greatest but, crammed with searing hooks that solidified Crutchfield as one in every of this era’s biggest songwriters. Its comply with-up, Nice Thunder, is a flex of a special variety. It’s beautiful however muted, sluggish and affected person and wrapped up in environment. Crutchfield’s wording and supply is measured and haunting. She turned to the piano this time round, and Nice Thunder has all of the consolation of an previous borrowed sweater that hangs onto the scent of a previous love. The six tracks on listed here are reimagined variations of songs Crutchfield wrote with an older undertaking, additionally referred to as Nice Thunder, however right here she breathes new life into them and reclaims them on her personal phrases.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music | Bandcamp

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Westerman – Ark (Blue Flowers)

Westerman has had a great run in 2018 — a lot in order that arguably one of the best track he’s launched this yr, “Confirmation,” isn’t even on Ark. The London-based mostly musician covers loads of floor on his newest EP nonetheless. He rigorously crafts looping and loping songs which might be half autre, half pop, and wholly fascinating. Westerman’s vibe has drawn warranted comparisons to Arthur Russell, and he definitely inhabits a few of that capacious malaise. However on Ark he expands previous that into digital-flecked people and shadowy ambivalence, additional increasing on the sound of some of the thrilling new acts of the yr.
HEAR IT: Spotify | Apple Music

Take heed to alternatives from our nice EPs listing on Spotify.