A lot of fantastic music had been released this year, and I felt that this is due in part to a lot of different projects being on hold since last year. Ultimately that has led to this top 10 list being extremely difficult to create, never-mind trying to pick just exactly what the BEST EP from this year was. I wish I could have added more to this list, and if I had I would have definitely added; “Peach” by Aaron Childs, “EP2!” by JPEGMAFIA, “Yard Sale (Side A)” by The Brook & The Bluff, “Not Rock” by Smiling, “off saint dominique” by renforshort, “Rat Child” by Crobot, “grim value” by Eve 6, “Concession Stand Girl” by Naomi Alligator, “Falsterbo” by Horse Show, and “What About Flowers?” by Snarls. Each of the EPs that made this list, and those that were previously mentioned, are all fantastic and should absolutely be heard by everybody. I, myself, have each of them routinely on shuffle because I cannot listen to them enough. So without further ado, welcome to the Top 10 EPs of 2021.
10. Geneva Jacuzzi - "Human Head" EP
Released on April 9th, the “Human Head” EP by Geneva Jacuzzi was some of her best work to date. Released through the Mexican Summer LLC music label, this EP consisted of a refreshing blend of dance, electronic, and experimental music. “Human Head” went straight for the listener’s ear drums and was nearly impossible to get out. The opening track, “Human Head” began with Jacuzzi singing “La La La La La La La, I’m walking with a Human Head, Dead like a Human Head” which eventually led into her singing “I’m not human? Human Head. No? Human Head. Oh yeah! It’s definitely a Human Head. Woohoo! A Human Head.” Although the lyrics to the tracks on this EP aren’t necessarily deep, or thought provoking, this EP’s overall music absolutely hits. It felt like Jacuzzi was ultimately trying to say something about the human condition, and questioned her own humanity at times. “I’m not human?” Other tracks on this EP included; “Never Tired,” “I Don’t Care,” and “It’s Great Not to Care” - all of which seemed to tell a small story. The story being that Jacuzzi doesn’t care about others’ opinions, and how great that makes her feel. While the “Human Head” EP was only about eight minutes in track time, the listener was able to easily have this EP on repeat. This was due to how seamlessly “It’s Great Not to Care” flowed back into “Human Head.” I only wish Jacuzzi had included the track “I Don’t Want To Die (Geneva Jacuzzi Remix)” created by herself and the artist Patriarchy. I felt like that song could have added to the overall concept of being human that she was going for in this EP.
9. Metronomy - "Posse, Volume. 1" EP
Metronomy released their EP “Posse, Volume. 1” on September 14th, and since then they have made me crave the second part to this EP. Not only is “Posse, Volume. 1” flavorful, but it’s also got something for everyone on it; soft vibes, big beats, and funky feels. Released through Because Music Ltd. “Posse, Volume. 1” began with the track, “Half an Inch” which featured the artist Pinty. This track immediately got the listener grooving to its upbeat, and otherworldly-sound. This was paired with Pinty’s interesting lyrics such as, “This dog keeps barking ’cause you’re pecking on his ham,” and “Feet of a hobbit, I skip over dunes.” Other tracks on this project included; “405” which featured Biig Piig, “Uneasy” featuring spill tab, “Out of Touch” featuring Sorry, and “Monday” featuring Brian Nasty and Folly Group. Apple Music had categorized this EP has being Alternative, but I believe this was the farthest thing from the truth. There is no way you could group or categorize “Posse, Volume. 1” into a single box because there was too much going on with it. It’s like if you called ramen just soup with noodles. Each artist featured on this release brought their own uniqueness to it, and it’s shameful that this music was categorized as such, but I digress. I loved the segment of the chorus to “Uneasy” when spill tab sang, “And I’m a sucker for the evenings and the seasons, And every touch that stays between us, can’t believe it, I just wanna be the reasons, that you throw it all away” because their voice flowed so naturally over that absolutely sick bassline. One last thing I want to touch on with this EP was the fantastic, and thought-provoking artwork that went along with it. What was even happening in that picture? Why was a stoned tree trunk looking at that city? Why is he wearing a robe covering his bottom half? What’s he hiding there? Is there something about tree reproduction that I’m unaware about? Someone please explain this to me.
8. Beach Bunny - "Blame Game" EP
Moving forward at number eight we had Beach Bunny’s EP “Blame Game.” This was released on January 15th of this year, and I frequently forget that it didn’t come out last year due to how close to 2020 it was. Put out via the label Mom+Pop, the “Blame Game” EP was a fantastic piece of feminism and anti-misogyny due to it’s direct approach of it’s subject matter. The EP began with the track “Good Girls (Don’t Get Used)” in which vocalist Lili Trifilio delivered the lyrics, “Say you miss me say you want to kiss me” and, “I know, you know you’re better than that, but you can’t respond when you react.” Essentially being about how she wants men to be upfront with what their feeling or thinking, rather than being old-fashioned and bottling things. Further, she related this to men acting more traditionalist like she said when she sang the lyrics, “your deadbeat dad.” Other tracks on this EP included; “Love Sick,” “Nice Guys,” and the title track, “Blame Game.” Of these tracks, I gravitated more to the song “Blame Game” due it’s gentle guitarwork and heavy subject matter. During that song Trifilio sang during the tongue-in-cheek chorus, “Guess it’s my fault my body’s fun to stare at, sorry my clothes can’t keep your hands from grabbing. Yeah, it’s my problem, I’m asking for it. Guess you’re the victim and I’m the suspect.” I also really appreciated the way she sang, “We’re taught we’re only meant to act holy, cover up your shoulders or you might tempt somebody” because I felt like she was absolutely on point with this statement.
7. Toth - "Death" EP
Pronounced like “both”, Tōth released their EP “Death” on October 12th via Northern Spy. This was their second release of the year, and it accompanied their absolutely outstanding album You and Me and Everything which came out on April 30th. In some ways, this EP was a continuation of their latest album, and also a step away from it. Even the artwork of the EP - a dog-like person laying down – was placed in the same form as the person laying down on the album artwork. Additionally, some songs on the EP had a similar structure to those on the album. Nevertheless, the “Death” EP was wholly unique and fun to listen to. It began with the upbeat song “Muerto” which translates from Spanish to “dead.” This song was clearly about death, or feeling like death because Tōth sang “No puedo cantar because yo estoy muerto. No puedo hablar because yo estoy a nonexistent entity.” Once again translated that meant, “I cannot sing because I am dead. I cannot talk because I am a nonexistent entity.” I really enjoyed the back and forth between English and Spanish that Tōth used in this track because I felt like it kept the subject matter of death, fresh. The track “Cockroach” followed “Muerto” and told a story about how cockroaches can survive nearly everything. Other songs on this EP included; “FKA Bluets,” “Hey Dude Etude,” and “What Is Your Deal Man?” The only other thing that I’ll say about this EP was that “Hey Dude Etude” was more of a spoken-word track. During that song Tōth asked, “Hey dude how are you?” to a friend of his. His friend thereby discussed their own depression and nihilistic view on life. This was befitting to the EP due to its subject matter, and how everyone views living – and dying – differently.
6. j. pastel - "Waiting Days" EP
Coming in at number six we had the EP “Waiting Days” by j. pastel. Released at the start of November, this EP continues to play on a loop due to how catchy each track was. I felt outrageously thankful that I was able to interview Casey Bruce and Chase Durrett on the Turnt Abel Podcast. During that episode the guys were able to discuss the creation of the EP, and new music they’ll be releasing in 2022. The “Waiting Days” EP began with the track “Won’t Hesitate,” where Durrett softly sang, “I’ve been searching all my life for something I can’t find, so excuse me while you wait. When I find it I won’t hesitate.” Paired with an excellent and soft back-beat, “Won’t Hesitate” told the listener that when given an opportunity, the due won’t hesitate to go after it. Other tracks on this EP included; “You and Me,” “La La Living,” “How Long,” and “Be Cool.” When I had first listened to the “Waiting Days” EP, I had been immediately drawn to “How Long” because of it’s vibe and rhythm. However now that I’ve fully digested this EP, the track “Be Cool” triumphed over all. That track made the me want to bump it everywhere and anywhere. The soft opening of the song moved into this funky beat, that was so sick to hear. If this EP was just a taste of what this duo can do, I highly anticipate their debut album to be equally, if not more amazing.
5. Freedom Fry - "Broken Down on Planet 909" EP
The latest EP “Broken Down on Planet 909” by indie-pop duo Freedom Fry took me by a huge surprise because I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Marie Seyrat and Bruce Driscoll truly put out something amazing when they released this project on November 12th through Caveman Arts Society. Packed with catchy choruses, interesting descriptions, and funky rhythms, Planet 909 may not be such a bad place to break down at. The EP began with the title track “Broken Down on Planet 909” in which the listener - along with Seyrat and Driscoll - found themselves broken down on a strange planet filled with funk and groove. The duo effortlessly blended psychedelic style, with funky rhythm in this track. This continued into track two, “Cool When I’m with You.” During that song the duo seemed to find comfort in each other as they explored this strange planet they’ve found themselves on. Other tracks featured on this EP were; “Before the World Was Born,” “Ego Trip,” and “Nothing Makes Much Sense Anymore.” To me, “Ego Trip” was something I always came back to because it reminded me of Father John Misty’s album, I Love You Honeybear. I especially enjoyed the chorus, “Taking a ride, here in my mind. Baby, why don’t we go? I’ve been on an ego trip. Taking some time, feeling the vibe. On and on and we know, I’ve been on an ego trip” and the little guitar work that followed.
4. GLOM - "Gre[a]y" EP
Because I had enjoyed the album Merit by the New York based alt/indie band GLOM, I knew I would enjoy their latest EP “Gre[a]y.” However, before it was released, I didn’t realize how much I would actually love it. Each song on this EP was a hit and I revisited this EP on a daily basis. This project included; Sean Dunnevant on vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, synthesizer, and drum programming, Peter Beiser performing vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, synthesizer, and drums, Sahil Ansari on drums and percussion, and Sarah Cicero doing backing vocals on the track “Again.” Each member added their own personality and flair to this EP, which I thought helped make this release so magnificent. From the title track, “Gre[a]y” to, “She Has Made It to the Other Side,” and from “Immortalized,” to “Again” this EP was chock-full of flavor. To me, the track “She Has Made It to the Other Side” really stood out due to the song’s perfectly crafted guitarwork that accompanied Beiser and Dunnevant’s vocals. Additionally, the artwork for this EP was created by Rachel Hayden – who also did the artwork for Merit as well.
3. Little Hag - "Breakfast" EP
At number three we had the “Breakfast” EP by New Jersey based indie band Little Hag. Fronting the group is Avery Mandeville who played guitar and performed vocals. Mandeville was an absolute delight to speak to on the Turnt Abel Podcast and helped me fully understand what this gem of an EP was all about. My favorite quote of hers from the interview was, “If you want to piss of your parents … or anybody at all – you can play them the ‘Breakfast EP.’” She absolutely couldn’t have been righter. In this EP, Mandeville opened herself up to listeners, showcased her vulnerabilities, and told them what makes her so real. Hell, even the artwork for the EP was a photo of Mandeville waving from her bathroom toilet. Speaking of, the EP began with the track “Piss” in which Mandeville sang, “Piss in my organs, piss in my pants, piss like a horse, should’ve went before we left. Failed by the doctors, failed by the state, failed by my body ‘cause failure’s my fate.” These lyrics helped paint a vivid picture that Mandeville was always on the toilet due to her literal internal struggles. Following this track were the songs; “Blood” and “Cum,” whereby Mandeville sang about her need to see blood come out of her vagina, and her fight with men who patronize her in the music scene. Although this EP only had three tracks, I felt like each one landed a punch to her aggressors – whether that be at her own body for bringing her pain, or negative people around her.
2. Jumping Ship - "Good Grief" EP
Based out of Normal, Illinois, the 5-piece pop punk band, Jumping Ship, put out one hell of an EP this year. Running at six tracks in length, the “Good Grief” EP had enough catchy choruses, and interesting wordplay to fill a book. Consisting of; Jason Roberts on vocals, Jeff Ramsey on rhythm guitar, Drew Johnston playing bass, Patrick Keefe playing lead guitar, and Brandon Cary on Drums – the band knew their stuff, and how exactly their sound should be like. The guys were also really insightful during the interview on the Turnt Abel Podcast. The artwork for this EP was also really cool and was created by Roberts’ girlfriend. The track, “Attic” opened up the EP on a soft tone, and moved into a faster fashion during track two, “Sooner or Later.” This fast style was repeated on track three, “Twilight Town” which was also one my personal favorites. The opening riff to that track paired with lyrics such as, “If people saw me how I picture myself in my head, would they love me instead, or push me away?” The drums in this track were also phenomenal - especially before they played into the song’s chorus. Other songs on this EP included; “Darker Colors,” “Lying to Myself,” and “Good Luck Have Fun.” To me this EP moved in waves and the band did a really great job of ending it with a bang. During “Good Luck Have Fun,” Roberts showcased his talent as a vocalist with his singing ability. Moreover, the lyrics to this song written by Cary, “Oh good grief, I can’t be bothered by my own beliefs. It feels like letting myself down, is the only thing that makes me feel complete” felt like they came from a very real place. I pray this EP will eventually get pressed onto vinyl.
1. dad sports - "I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!!" EP
I 100% could not get enough of the fantastic EP that was “I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!!” by Ottawa-based trio dad sports. This bedroom-pop band had left me absolutely speechless with the impact that this EP had. Consisting of; Miguel Plante on vocals and guitar, Keith McDonald on drums, and Alex Keyes on bass – this group has a very promising future in the music scene. Released through Grand Jury Music, “I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!!” moved in different styles, and dove into themes like old relationships, moving on, and finding yourself. The band also helped me understand what it was like to create each song on the Turnt Abel Podcast. Each song on this EP was so fantastic that I couldn’t possibly pick out a favorite. The track “out 4 a breather” lightly opened up this EP, and led into track two, “if u want to !” The lyrics in the chorus of that song, “If you want to, I’ll be here by your side, and if its through, I’ll fade into the night. It’s not like you could see through every line, so I’ll melt into your skin. As if I never really was there” felt very real when Plante sang them. Other tracks on this EP included; “gf haircut,” “nrvs again,” “MANY FACES,” and “name & place.” Due to this EP’s huge success – and how many people came to see the band when they recently toured in the U.S. – I foresee their debut album being an absolute hit.