The blessed EP. The art of putting out a four to eight song mini-album has acted as either an appetizer for fans to temporarily stave off the hunger (throw us a bone, gives us a single, gives us something, please!) OR to signal the release of an upcoming album, but at any rate here goes my Top 10 of '07...
10. Ween - The Friends EP
You know how Ween rolls. A five song EP that runs the gamut from 8os synth-cheese (Friends) to silicon-textured reggae squonk (King Billy) to corn-balladry (Slow Down Boy), it's all here. When Gene and Dean get together to write an album, be rest assured they're always going to have a few leftovers, but these aren't necessarily throwaways, they just don't fit on the later full-length release La Cucaracha. Which is kind of weird, being the masters of genre-spoofing they are. Thanks Ween!
9. Los Campesinos! - Sticking Fingers Into Sockets
Cockney-inflected swagger over highly danceable and fun songs, the Cardiff contingency that is Los Campesinos! made an impression on me from the get-go, and leaves me in a state of extreme anxiousness for their debut full-length Hold On Now, Youngster... to be released April 1st stateside (2/25/08 in the UK). Think Arctic Monkeys crossed with a wedding band. Highlights include We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives and the 6-plus minute You! Me! Dancing! "One thing I can never confess is that I can't dance a single step..."
8. Deerhunter - Fluorescent Grey EP
Acting as the accompaniment to the stellar Cryptograms, Fluorescent Grey is a four song EP without the strange textural ambient passages placed in between songs on their full-length album. It's basically four singles, with the closer Wash Off being the EP's best song and earning them a number eight spot on my best-of list.
7. Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Ask Forgiveness
Technically not an EP, it's more of an eight-song covers album with songs from the likes of Bjork, Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra, R. Kelly, Danzig and Mekons, given the Will Oldham touch. The one original Bonnie tune is I Am Loving The Street, acting as the album's centerpiece. Basically, Will could fart into a microphone for three minutes and I'm still going to fawn all over it. He's that important...
6. Grizzly Bear - Friend
Grizzly Bear is so hawt right now, and judging from the cast they assembled to help re-do their tunes it looks as if the imprint they're making on the world of indie is a bit deeper than I could've imagined. Zach Condon of Beirut plus a choir gives some oomph to Alligator, Cansei De Ser Sexy offers their baile-funk spin on their stellar Knife, Band Of Horses redoes Plans and not to be outdone by their guests Grizzly offers two brand new tracks; Granny Diner and He Hit Me.
5. The Hold Steady - Live At Fingerprints
Still haven't seen these guys live, but judging from this all-too-short five song record these guys are America's favorite party band. A new one on here, the set closing You Gotta Dance (With Who You Came To The Dance With). It left me thirsty for more.
4. Joanna Newsom - Joanna Newsom & The Ys Street Band EP
I have the biggest crush on Joanna Newsom. She's like the girl from middle school that no one noticed but grew into a beautiful woman over the summer before ninth grade. I'm making that analogy because the transformation between The Milk-Eyed Mender and Ys was akin to that girl we all knew once. Be nice to that girl because she may just turn you down if you ask her to the prom. Marry me, Joanna?
3. The Decemberists - Live From SoHo (iTunes Exclusive)
Released at the start of the year, I paid less than six bucks for this and have listened to it so many times it basically paid for itself after the 20th listen. As I said about Will Oldham busting ass into a mic, Colin & Company could pretty much do the same and I'd happily sniff it up my nostrils and say it was great...
2. Beirut - Lon Gisland
Pronounced lon-guy-land, as is Long Island (when it first came out I was saying lon-jizz-land...) Young Zach Condon's eastern European ditties about the plight of immigrants born in concentration camps and moving into places like Coney Island and the Little Odessa section of Brighton Beach at times can be so moving and done with such a level of emotional honesty it's hard to believe he's only 22 years old. And this version of Scenic World is far superior to the one on Gulag Orkestar.
1. Hezekiah Jones - Come To Our Pool Party EP
Not only does Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter/pianist Raphael Cutrufello have the best EP of the year, Mississippi Sea is The Musicologist's 2007 Song Of The Year, hands down. Futuristic lyricism over a subtle and beautiful melody replete with the prettiest pedal steel solo this side of Nashville, Hezekiah himself may be the best upside-down guitar player ever (or the only...) Also look for Cupcakes For The Army as one of my top songs of the year. Bravo Raphy, keep 'em coming!
Tomorrow: The Top 25 Songs Of 2007