The 40 Best EPs by Phoenix Bands in 2016, Part One
A massive amount of music came out on EPs this year, so we're going to honor them, too.
We're introducing something new this year to our local year-end roundup.
In addition to our Best Songs and Best Albums list (the latter of which will publish next week), this year we're presenting the Best EPs. Why EPs? As streaming becomes the dominant way people consume music, bands upping the frequency they release music and lowering the number of songs released at once. Last year, we didn't include EPs in our list, and a lot of great music went unaccounted for when all was said and done. In the digital age, the EP is a new standard, ranging from three song maxi-singles or seven track mini-albums. I went through more EPs than I ever imagined were released this year, and are the 40 best of that enormous stack.
40. Sun Hex - Downer
The debut record from Sun Hex has to be one of the finest odes to an era where Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, and Loop championed a new sound and a movement without really intending to. The monstrous roar of the guitars. The melody
39. Pleasure Victims - "7"
The Pleasure Victims are Ginger Fields (lead vocals, synthesizers, and acoustic guitar), Outlaw Cody James (guitars and vocals), Nigel L'Amour (bass guitar, synthesizers, and vocals), and Randalite (drums, percussion, and vocals), and after recent years of being local live staples, they put out a mini-album that combines prog, alternative, and indie rock with the hair rock of the '80s. It's an interesting mix of influences that just end up being a hell of a lot of fun. From the rocking opener of "Broken" to the synthpop dream of "Fantasy" the album is a fun ride. It won't be difficult to find pleasure in spinning "7".
38. Weslynn - Black + Champagne
Black + Champagne feels like it's ready to launch into alternative radio.
The idea that
36. Couples Fight - Breaking Up
It's never been so enjoyable to watch a relationship self-destruct. Couples Fight's Breaking Up EP is one of the most interesting concept bands to come along in a while, but it's unclear if they can or if they will ever follow it up. Couples Fight is the dance-punk duo of Travis James (Travis James & The Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists) and
This is some truly unusual and stunning music. It's a nine-track EP that clocks in at just over 20 minutes. There are lots of experimental link tracks like "Papago," "Drought," and "Cielo" that provide beginning, ends and interludes to the songs, but it was the first actual song on the record, "Fall," that caught my attention and kept it. The arrangements by
34. Sunshower - Dazed + Refused
Grunge revivalists Sunshower sounds like they got their musical education straight out of the early Sub Pop catalog. "GMLK" would not seem out of place on the Blew EP or Screaming Life or Superfuzz Bigmuff, yet it is far from simple homage. The EP begins with a sample featuring Chazz' rant in Airheads from 1994. Clearly, this crew is thoroughly educated in the 1990s on all fronts. It's also apparent that playing a hell of a lot of shows over the last year has made their songwriting better, and if this song is any example, made them focus more on a tight sound that really captures the ear instantly. The first half is the loud side, the second half is the quieter side. Both sides are pretty great.
33. Jared & The Mill - Orme Dugas
Jared & The Mill have been riding the indie folk revival wave since their inception and honestly, they do it the best. Orme Dugas is their latest EP and it shows a band that has a lot less open-eyed innocence as found in their earlier records, but it has a lot more road worn, wisdom filled experience. The band has been on a non-stop tour since I became aware of them and that much time on the road has solidified their sound for the better. The sheer growth in songwriting since 2013s Western Expansion is remarkable and the depth of Jared's vocals is maturing beautifully. I would expect no less from these consummate professionals.
32. Andy Warpigs - GEEK ROCK! To The Nations!
If you were expecting folk-punk on Andy Warpigs newest record, you'll want to put that expectation aside. The four-track EP GEEK ROCK! To The Nations! seems to be more akin to indie pop than anything else, maybe with a little punk edge. On this
I get the impression after seeing
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