EP = Extended play.
It is “extended” because it was considered more than just a 2-song single but less than an album that would generally have 10, 12, or 14 songs. In the old days, an EP was considered anything more than two songs but less than 26 minutes and 58 seconds. The moment your piece of work was 26:59 or 27 minutes even, that classified as an album. Fortunately, many artists these days still obey the old rules, even if some will say “that’s stupid.”
Anyway, the EP is a way for an artist to release new music but without having to create something that functions as a “full length”. An album has often been stigmatizing because some feel an album should be an “event” of sorts. In fact, that’s how many musicians and songwriters used to design an album, as a substitute for not being able to go to their actual performance. An album was meant to be “since you can’t come to see and hear us, this is our audio presentation of that show.” An EP is a nice, content way to provide a few new songs without going overboard. In the 80’s, EP’s were often done as “in between” releases, giving fans something to “fill the void” before the next big event was to happen, a rest period during or after a tour for the album. In the last five to ten years, EP’s have become stronger and you’ll see more people release EP’s as nothing more than just a set of songs that’s “more than just an MP3” but “less than the occasional burden of hearing an album.”
I got my share of EP’s throughout 2015 but oddly enough, I didn’t review a lot of them. I did post a handful for visitors to listen to but most I did not review them. I love the EP and perhaps I need to try to dedicate myself to more in 2016. This is the reason why this list is so brief: five titles. It’s unlike my album lists that can be jampacked with anything and everything but maybe this list is like the EP itself: nice and content. This is my list of what I feel were the Best “extended plays” of 2015.
Charlie Belle’s “I Don’t Want To Be Alone”
Chromadrift’s “Europa Mission”
The March Divide’s “+1”
Snow In Mexico’s “Juno Beach”
Tree Machines’ self-titled EP
Charlie Belle have been getting some attention not only for making some pretty good music, but they’re doing it so at a young age, and the fact that its core members are brother and sister. Guitarist Jendayi Bonds is the lead singer while drummer Gyasi Bonds does the background vocals. While they have changed bassists in their existence, the album features someone but he may be someone who plays in the sessions and the live shows may have someone else. I think what makes I Don’t Want To Be Alone (Fanatic) work is not the fact that the Bonds are brother and sister or that they’re teenagers, but they have well written songs that sound more mature than their age. Jendayi sounds like someone who could easily end up writing wonderful pop songs with an eclectic edge, and I say eclectic because they’re not by the numbers. Even if something may sound like by-the-numbers, there’s something within that shows she very much knows and understands what she is writing, and that little extra makes these songs worth playing over and over. When they actually enter college, they’ll be creating the perfect soundtrack for a generation of listeners that will hopefully stick around when that time is over, to be able to hear how Charlie Belle progress in time is something worthy hanging around for. I could easily see them collaborating with well known artists as a way to take their songs to the next level, and I hope that happens sooner than later.
(I Don’t Want To Be Alone will be released on September 18th and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.)
Pop music with a warm jingle-jangle spirit may not be as plentiful these days, at least not in the mainstream, but that means you’ll have to seek and discover what you’re looking for. If that style of pop and rock is what you desire, may I introduce you to a trio from Austin, Texas named Charlie Belle. The group play music that could easily become this generation’s version of The Sundays, Belly, Syd The Kid, or Madison McFerrin. That’s partly due to the strong vocals of guitarist Jendayi Bonds, along with the fantastic bass work of Zoe Czarnecki and the powerful drumming of Gyasi Bonds and you may find it hard that this music was created with only three people. These songs either have the potential to become very popular or be used in numerous television shows or films, and those who choose to work with them will be rewarded.
(Get To Know will be released on January 13, 2015.)