The Six EPs You Need To Be Spinning Right Now

The EP is the new black. Why more artists aren't doing them proves nothing except the fact that music labels have a hard time thinking outside the old box. Robyn nailed the genre back in 2010 with her Body Talk EPs, while London's Florrie showed us how the format can spur a fan following. Four to five songs, no filler. Lean mean, quicker to create. At the hazy tail end of summer, we look back at some short players we've had on a loop (or can’t wait to download), all from—no shocker—indie artists. 

By Jeff Katz & Stephen Sears

Annie: The A&R EP

Annie was Annie before everybody else tried to BE Annie. Got that? She is the original pop/indie hybrid goddess. So it's a bit meta that "Back Together"—the EP's first video—was co-written by Little Boots, herself an Annie acolyte. This long overdue release is a taste of European summer. Recorded with pop wizard Richard X in his London studio, these five tracks splash across pop styles, from the edgy club beats of "Invisible" to a kicky ode to ’80s Karate Kid icon "Ralph Macchio." Nothing here carries much gravitas, but that's not the point. It’s sweet music from an artist we admire. —SS

“Back Together”

 

David LaBrel: Young At Heart

The only gripe we have with David LaBrel’s EP is that it didn’t come out sooner, since the EP’s namesake, “Young At Heart,” could have easily been the lead track for our summer soundtrack. The Olin and the Moon frontman’s solo effort delivers solid, homegrown rock—with just a tinge of nostalgia—and showcases a welcome aggression from LaBrel not often seen in the band’s previous work. But don’t fret, Olin enthusiasts; the heart is here, too. “Move On” drives with beautiful pain that’ll have you singing along with the “letting go” refrain at the top of your lungs. So roll the windows down for one more summer spin with the disc’s single, and then download the EP this fall on iTunes. —JK

“Young At Heart”

 

Betty Who: The Movement (available via free download from Betty Who's website)

New rules: The best pop stars are born outside the machine. 21-year-old Jess Newham, aka Betty Who, fresh out of Boston's Berklee College of Music, is the most ebullient she-popper in years. If you ever went to summer camp and developed a gayboy crush on the peppiest girl counselor, that's Betty. She's a towering platinum blond, all red lips and sassy charm. There's not one duff track on her debut EP: "Somebody Loves You" is best heard on a beach boombox, while "Right Here" is all romantic anticipation and "You're In Love" features a chorus that puts Newham on a vocal high-wire. And then there's "High Society," with its own new rules: "We drink chardonnay through the day 'cuz we say so." Cheers! —SS

 

Lorde: The Love Club

If you’ve somehow missed the Lorde train, consider this your last stop before this thing gets into high speed. The Kiwi teen has been a force on alt radio this summer with her addictive single “Royals,” and the best news is there’s more goodness where that came from! The Love Club EP is perfectly packaged with five diverse tracks (and one tricked-out remix), running the gamut from the percussion-heavy “Million Dollar Bills” to the Lily Allen-esque “The Love Club.” Nothing hits quite as brilliantly as “Royals,” but that just leaves us to believe the best is yet to come on the full LP, the wonderfully clever Pure Heroine, out Sept. 30. —JK

“Royals”

 

Slow Knights: Sweet Harmony 

Scissor Sisters' Del Marquis has gathered a collective of artists under the name Slow Knights. Think of it as an ’80s/’90s-influenced R&B/pop supergroup, except the singers are all up and coming. The mid-tempo title track is sung by Mykal Kilgore and Bridget Barkan as if they're a 21st Century Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal. The song's co-writer, Bright Light Bright Light’s Rod Thomas, adds a literally stomping remix (check that bit at 4:24) that would've been perfect for Blond Ambition-era Madonna. The EP is fleshed out by two funky new b-sides, "Criminal Mind" and "All Eyes On The Prize." Prince fans should note that former members of Prince’s New Power Generation form Slow Knight’s backing band. —SS

"Sweet Harmony"

 

Daniel Robinson: Guesswork

We’re not quite sure he’s old enough to really remember the heyday of his influences, but Daniel Robinson’s Guesswork pays perfect homage to the moody best of Erasure/Pet Shop Boys/every others ’80s electro band you rebelled alongside. But it’s not all stale reminiscing here. Robinson takes on the dance wave of the moment and infuses his dark spin with “Invasion,” while picking up the pop pace in “Running With Wolves.” But it's “Sugar” that has us clamoring for more, showcasing a maturity and cool musical sensibility. —JK  

"Sugar"