Top 10 EPs of the Year 2017

So it begins and a bunch of pointless, way too long and entirely subjective end-year lists are heading your way during the coming weeks. Sorry about that. The plan is to make The Finnish albums of the year list on Wednesday and international albums next weekend and then take a little breather before the songs of the year lists. No definite promises though. Things might take far longer. Anyway, time to get it all started with Top 10 EPs of the year 2017. I didn’t make separate lists for Finnish and international.

TOP 10 EPS OF THE YEAR 2017

10. Paper Beat Scissors – All We Know

Montreal-based Paper Beat Scissors aka Tim Crabtree always challenge my own taste. When I have his music just playing there on the background, I might not find a whole lot to hold on to and I might feel like that there’s nothing for me here. However, when I put the headphones on and devote myself to the music, I begin to see the light and the haunting melancholic beauty of the songs eventually lure me into a magical and dazzlingly beautiful atmosphere. Didn’t Know and The Weather Station cover are my particular favorites on this new EP.

9. Pinkerton/Black – How’s the Weather Over There

Henry Black could easily have his debut ep Folk is Dead on this little list as well, but I kind of prefer this tour ep he did with Riley Pinkerton. Maybe this is not really even a proper release, but hey my list my rules and I’m very fond of this. Due to reasons that a) Looked Like Eve is my favorite Henry Black song I’ve heard so far b) this one has 3 excellent songs from both artists.

8. Michael Nau – Load

Michael Nau’s Load EP contains songs from same the pool as the ones that formed his Some Twist album, but somehow these didn’t fit into the full-length. It certainly doesn’t sound like the reason was the quality of the songs, because these are just as lovely.

7. MAITA – Waterbearer

MAITA’s debut EP came out in January and kept its charm throughout the year. I like the whole thing and I’m passionately in love with the title song Waterbearer that reminds me of Laura Veirs. I look forward to hearing more songs from this Portland-based indie-folk songwriter.

6. Hip Hatchet – Hellhound in the House

Hip Hatchet released a wonderful Hellhound in the House EP in January. These are all protest songs and we would all be better off, if the world was in a state where there wasn’t a need for these songs to be born. Unfortunately that’s not the case and therefore we must live, love and resist. The other two songs are really good too, but Burden of an Empath is the song that I really love wholeheartedly. One of my absolute favourite 2017 songs. Despite all the overwhelming sadness, I still feel like the beauty, warmness and love is able to overshadow the darkness in that song. That is where the hope lies and that is what we are also seeing taking place. People coming together and standing up against the lack of compassion and empathy. To love is not a weakness. Love is the way.

5. Matt Paxton – Hunter Street Station Blues

Canadian Matt Paxton is a long time favourite and claim a place on these lists nearly every year. His 2017 release is a marvellous EP Hunter Street Station Blues. I’m a big fan of his songwriting and that voice always grap my attention. I think this lead track Baby Don’t Go is actually the worst song on the EP. The worst meaning still pretty amazing in this case of course.

4. Verandan – Verandan EP

Ville Hopponen is stepping under the spotlight with his own songs. He has been or is a member of such great bands like Cats On Fire, Le Futur Pompiste and The New Tigers and therefore the man is partly responsible of some of the finest Finnish indie pop albums ever. Verandan shows that besides being a skilled musician, he is also a really good songwriter.

3. Julie Arsenault – Softness

This is a last minute entry in a sense that I just bought it. I had this Julie Arsenault EP on the shopping list for months and thought that it’s time take appropriate action and support the artist by buying the release. Now I’ve been listening to it for hours and it’s even better than I remembered. Chain and Monsters are sort of phenomenal and the whole EP is a treasure.

2. Bone Moon – The Writer

The other Finnish entry to this list and therefore this would be the Finnish EP of the year, if I had such a category Bone Moon is a new group led by Lauri Myllymäki. Ochre Room called it a day, but no worries because Bone Moon is equally wonderful. Sure I miss Minttu’s vocals a little bit, because I loved how beautifully they sang together. Hopefully Bone Moon will release a full-length in 2018, because I sure would love to hear more after this tremendous EP.

1. Charlie Whitten – Playwright

Playwright by Charlie Whitten is the EP of the year 2017. Actually it’s one of my favourite releases of the year in general. Probably only The Weather Station album mattered more to me than this magnificent EP. I can listen to these four songs repeatedly for hours. These are timeless, heartfelt and beautifully arranged folk songs. It feels like a lot of thought and love went to each line, note and detail. The songwriting is magnificent, but the way he warmly and softly carries them into my heart is even more impressive. A perfect EP on all accounts.

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Lokit – Blades of Steel (song+video)

I’m eagerly waiting to hear a full-length album from Lokit. I just love pretty much every song I’ve heard so far. Great songs with gorgeous vocals, beautiful melodies and 90s indie rock vibes. I’ve been living under the impression that the album was actually coming out sometime in 2017, but we are close to December now, so it doesn’t seem too likely. I guess I don’t have to save a place for it on my top 3 Finnish albums of the year list anymore. Oh well, one more reason to carry on doing this blog in 2018, so I can praise the Lokit album when it eventually arrives. However, the first outtake Blades of Steel from the forthcoming album is out and available and it’s an excellent contender for the Finnish song of the year category.

Lokit at Facebook

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LUKA – What Kind of Animal

LUKA is a songwriter Toronto and he will release his new album What Kind of Animal on the 28th of November. It was recorded live-to-tape and will be released as cassette/digital. Luka’s songs always feel just charming and lovely at first, but further listenings tend to reveal far expanded range of emotions and far more depth and detail. His subtle soft voice challenge my thought process and conscience with insightful and unpredicted lines. Jonathan Richman influences are still there, but not as apparent than on the previous album. The album opener Near Collision is my early personal favourite, but that’s not yet available for sharing. No harm done, because this first available outtake Quick Reflex is also equally magnificent.

LUKA at Facebook

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Last Leaves – Other Towns Than Ours

I’m running out of time, because I would like to get end of the year lists done before all hell breaks loose on the day job in a week or two. So soon I’ll focus on those, but during the next few days I try to go through a couple of important ones that I’ve failed to mention properly.

Last Leaves are from Australia. Former The Lucksmith members Marty Donald, Louis Richter and Mark Monnone put together a new band with Great Earthquake’s drummer Noah Symons. They took their time, but the full-length Other Towns Than Ours finally appeared this fall on Matinee Recordings (USA) and Lost and Lonesome Recording Company (Australia). The album is a thoroughly enjoyable and completely worth the wait. It’s quite moody and at times even complex and perhaps therefore not as instantly catchy as one might have hoped or expected. Absolutely no worries though, because it grows on you and even in the beginning there’s certainly more than enough of wonderful pop jangle and beautiful melodies too to keep the pop kids onboard. Great to have these heroes back in this ball game. This is The World We Had from the new Last Leaves album.

Last Leaves at Facebook

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Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders – Come Undone

Going back to Hobart, Tasmania for a bit. I’ve been vaguely familiar with songwriter Lincoln Le Fevre for a few years, but haven’t picked up the earlier records. I’m pretty sure I would like them, but the most basic factory job with small-ish salary does put some limits to the quest of buying all the records my heart desires. However, I did pick a download of the latest Lincoln Le Fevre & The Insiders album Come Undone that came out in July on Poison City Records. It’s a damn fine alternative when I get temporarily tired with all my beloved country troubadours and feel the need to add a little bit of energy and rock’n’roll to the mix. This is folk punk, indie rock and alt-country passionately delivered. It might not be exactly similar, but if you like the work of Lucero and Frank Turner for example why not give a chance to Lincoln Le Fevre. Especially the finest songs like Undone, Summerhat and Constellations are utterly wonderful. Extra bonus point for the Lucero cap in the music video for album outtake Useless Shit. Not that he really needs one, because Come Undone is an awesome record.

Lincoln Le Fevre Website

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Mo Troper – Exposure & Response

Time for some pop wizardry from Portland, Oregon. I bought the new Mo Troper album Exposure & Response last night, put it on the headphones when I started working at the factory this following morning and kind of instantly fell in love with it. Co-workers probably thought that now I’ve finally lost it completely, because I’ve was doing manual labour with a stupid happy grin on my face all day long and probably even sang along a little bit without realizing it. A damn brilliant power pop album. GBV formula in a sense that at first it almost feels like he is wasting wonderful melodies, because the songs are often really short, but a while later I notice that he knew better and the songs are perfect just as they are. Exposure & Response is a super catchy album full of killer hooks and wonderful melodies and it’s now out and available on Good Cheer Records.

Mo Troper at Facebook

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