Extended Listening to Extended Plays.

When I was in high school, the ep (extend play) disc was pretty common and allowed artists to get more than just a single out while not needing to complete an entire album. I hated the ep.  It always frustrated me to purchase an ep, love what I heard,  then have to pay full price for that band’s album which would inevitably come out eight weeks later with all of the songs from the ep on it.  Boo!

But in the digital age, it’s easier to fill in the missing pieces by just downloading the songs you need to fill out the album. And for artists, it is easier to get new material in front of fans with the use of digital ep.  For artists still trying to grow an audience, a well crafted and easy to download ep can be a great way to create buzz and boost a career.

Since the new year, I’ve come across three ep’s that I can’t get out of my head.  I would like you to listen and get them in your head as well.  I think these three artists deserve to be more widely heard.  So please, give your attention to:

1.  King Charles – Mississippi Isabel

2.  Anthony Raneri – New Cathedrals

3.  Emily West – I Hate You, I Love You

The first is Mississippi Isabel by King Charles.  By far the most fun of these three releases, the four songs here seem to defy categorization.  I like that.  There is reggae, ska, folk, rock, chamber pop, world rhythms reminiscent of those found on the Vampire Weekend records…but it all sounds simply pop-tastic.  King Charles is from England and certainly strikes a visual impression, but more important is the impression he leaves on your ears.  These four songs are charming and easy to listen to and will get you up and bouncing.  Check out the video for “Bam Bam“.

Anthony Raneri is the lead singer of Bayside, a band I admittedly know nothing about.  But that’s okay because I’m fine knowing him by this delightful little release.  The five songs on New Cathedrals are pretty rooted in folk and rock, with “The Ballad of Bill the Saint” probably leaving the strongest impression.  There is a kind of timeless quality to these songs that still manage to induce a sense of nostalgia in me.  The lyrics are strong and come from someplace honest in Raneri.  These are not throwaway songs.  Hopefully Raneri’s solo career is just getting started and not simply a brief detour from Bayside, which I’m sure is a fantastic band.  Really.  I’m sure.  But just listen to this ep, okay?

I’ve saved my favorite for last.  apparently, Emily West has been writing and recording songs in Nashville for almost ten years, and even released a single that featured Keith Urban a few years back.  After listening to I Hate You, I Love You, I am hard-pressed to understand how she has not yet exploded into our consciousness.  At six songs, this ep is stretching close to full-blown album territory.  But these six songs are so strong I don’t think I want to tarnish them by simply placing them on some other album.  Emily West breaks my heart further with each track here.  These songs are so devastatingly sad a beautiful I just want to climb through my ear buds and rescue her somehow.  And that is the kind of powerful connection that great singer-songwriters are able to make with their audience.  “Dangers of Love” sounds like it could have been written for Dusty Springfield.  “My Story” is by far the most country sounding track on the album, and also the most hopeful.  The absolute stand-out track is the slightly jazzy piano ballad “I Hate You, I Love You Again” (check out the video here).   What I like about her is that, despite being tabbed at a country artist, her songs don’t really feel country to me.  This is more straight forward singer-songwriter stuff.  I hope she keeps moving this direction and I can’t wait to hear more from her.

Go listen to these three artists.  Do it now!  Okay, I’m done.



~ by themattmorrisshow on January 21, 2012.

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