TOP 10 EPs of 2011 by Betsy Moyer

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By Betsy Moyer, KCRW’s Social Media Manager

Each year the KCRW DJs pull together their top 10 albums of the year… and just like last year – it inspired me to do the same, but share the love I found for their little sister, the EP. Here are ten EP’s that I spent some time with in 2011 that get my vote for tops!
Check out the DJ’s Top Ten Albums of 2011 here.

James Blake – Enough Thunder EP
“A more idiosyncratic approach” were the words uttered by Blake when he mentioned the EP in our MBE studio. He debuted “Enough Thunder” and it lands itself square on the top of my list of top 10 EPs. Imagine that… He’s on my top 10 for Albums too…. Its a GREAT mix of odds and ends from the year, including a Bon Iver collabo (a Betsyfantasy combo), as well as a Joni Mitchell cover. BTW…. I saw him at the Troubador where rumors floated around that one of the members of the PACKED HOUSE, was Joni Mitchell herself.

We got a sneak preview of Enough Thunder when James Blake came in for MBE. Its was a SUPERIOR way to be introduced to new material. Not only was this the first time I heard it, but turns out I actually prefer the live version that we captured MORE than the studio version that made it to the EP.

Reptar – Oblangle Fizz Y’all EP
I know, I gave these guys a shout last year. I was totally into them being the next greatest most hottest band ever. I believe they had a pretty good year, but  while I never could have anticipated the splash that was Foster the People – I fully expected that kind of fanfare for Reptar. Don’t get me wrong, I really like FTP and I’m behind all the hype they’ve received – but I thought it would be these guys.

How to Dress Well – Just Once EP
Yes, It DOES all sound like a lo-fi recording of an R. Kelly inspiration w/ a Bon Iver slant, but that is precisely what I love about it. I have totally been digging the indie take on RnB throwback sounds of late. In listening, I’ve felt washed over with the realization that their instrumentation is all percussive and accessory. There is a noise-ish accompaniment to go along with the lead… but all of the melody is carried out with vocals. But the EP features a boat load of synthy “orchestral” elements. Totally indulgent.

Generationals – Trust EP
Whoa, hard to remember back to the beginning of the year, but with it came the 7 inch Trust EP from Generationals and a “You’re going to like this” from KCRW Music Librarian, Eric J. Lawrence. When you get that nod from EJL, you know he’s likely right. Boy was he ever.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. EP
Oh man, these guys are not only bodacious in presentation – bee boppin’ along their rock n roll, dirty detroit bass drum work and vocal harmonies layered atop whistles and samples looped and jumpy – amidst a steady stream of steamy fog while donning fantastic full Nascar regalia. We fell in love through this EP, and that love lasted – carrying us full on through the release of “It’s A Corporate World” and through their SXSW/KCRW Showcase and MBE performance.

Foster the People – EP
I just have to put this on the list, because whether or not you can believe it, these guys started out the year of 2011 with a stinking EP. There was no such thing as Foster the People at the beginning of the year. I love it when a band puts a little whistle in a song w/ a really catchy chorus and then they blow up from playing a residency in OC, to playing every festival KROQ can put together in a year from side-stage to headliner, on to a Grammy nomination all in a matter of months.

Michael Kiwanuka – Tell Me A Tale EP
This is honestly another one of the darlings that the station has adopted recently and turned me on to. In fact, he was just on with Chris Douridas. This UK soul singer is banking mostly on a nostalgic vibe that is downright easy to groove to. Every song off of his brand new EP feels familiar and because they harken back to the soulful classics of generations ago.

Lana Del Rey – Video Games EP
There are only 2 songs on this EP, but I’ve heard them both a LOT… and this young inamorata has captivated many of us. And whether we’ve decided love or hate, we’re feeling it strongly. I really don’t want to like her because I read a lot of blogs that slaughtered her for being a fraud, manufactured, laid out on the line and cranked right through the pop phenom factory… #PrayforLana… However, admittedly – her melodies get stuck in my mind when I hear them. When asked by Jason Bentley why she thinks we keep playing these 2 songs…as she responded… “I can’t know for sure, but I think it’s because they’re good.” Is she right?  Either way – this EP is a stand out for the year.

Phantogram – Nightlife
I don’t know if they were actually touting this as an EP or a sophomore release, but either way its got 7 songs, so it counts. I really dig the dirty Detroit beats paired with that lady’s sweet breathy vocals. Just like the album from the year before, I believe there are just a few stand out tracks. And for me, it’s “Don’t Move.”

The Alabama Shakes – EP
“Bless my heart, and bless my soul…. I never thought I’d make it to 23 years old.” That’s almost laughable, cause I’m getting old, but nonetheless I believe this woman. Her delivery is aged and the southern blues influence is a raw grit that you can’t help but enjoy. My lip curls, hips shake and next thing I know this EP steals my heart.

Cruise through all of the tracks via my Spotify Playlist: 2011 Favorite EPs. It’s only missing the Alabama Shakes, which have a bandcamp page here.