Ah, the EP. I always try and wax poetic about the EP every year around this time. Probably because it’s always the first little thing I happen to get up to start my “Best of YEAR” list season, since EPs are usually pretty easy to rank, unless you’re somehow inundating yourself with the stuff (no judgement if you are, just like, where are they all coming from?). But the question stands: how can you make EPs epic enough to kick off such an awesome, spellbinding, world-capturing, Earth-shaking phenomenon known as Warm Visions’ Best Of season? You can’t. But we push on regardless.
In 2022, I had a few EPs that I really, really loved, and a few more that kept me entertained while waiting for new full offerings from that specific artist. We got wild, unexpected returns (two of them featured here!). We got some newcomers putting a bold stamp on the scene at large with big statement debuts. We’ve got Warm Visions eternal favorites coming back around with solid showings. All in all, it’s a great little collection of appetizers for you to catch up on. Check them out below!
Not that there should be honorable mentions for EPs, here are a few more from this year I enjoyed:
- FKA BOURSIN – comatose [Few & Far Between]
- G JONES & EPROM – Acid Disk 2 [Illusory]
- KALOA – Enso [Integral]
- MARISSA NADLER – The Wrath of the Clouds [Sacred Bones]
- MO DOTTI – Guided Imagery [Smoking Room]
A good rule of thumb with Warm Visions is that if Mr Twin Sister released anything that year, there’s a near-100% chance that it will appear on one of my year-end lists. Although it’s not the strongest collection of tracks from the otherwise bulletproof group, I can’t wait to hear “Resort” live and the band still has a magic touch that makes each song enjoyabl
I only heard this project a few days before writing this feature list, but boy howdy Worm’s Bluenothing won me over quickly. Absolutely righteous guitar playing takes centerstage in hugely epic tracks that weld together blackened death metal and doom. Vast tempo changes, vast vibe change ups, brutal vocals and like I said – some insane shredding. I can picture all of these songs being in Castlevania games.
A super-sweet, addictive little bite of electronic dance pop from a relative newcomer yunè pinku. I first saw her with a feature on Logic1000’s In The Sweetness of You EP from 2021. I also see now that pinku remixed Charli XCX this year as well, so clearly she’s on some good radars already. Hard for me not to love something like this, and will definitely keep my eyes out for more from her in 2023.
Burial has continued his drift out into the realms of slower, more atmospheric ambient and further away from beat-driven electronic. The vibes are still there though, and I feel like I prefer the environments crafted on this project more than the ones on his higher-profile release ANTIDAWN from earlier this year. Nevertheless, the pieces bellow on like factory steam into an overcast, drizzling day.
We got new music from Elizabeth Fraser this year, need I say more? I’m honestly surprised that more people aren’t flipping out over this release. Sure, it’s not the euphoric dream pop high of Cocteau Twins, but if you were expecting that, I don’t know what to tell you. Fraser floats through mystical fairytale lands that carry an extra weight from the all-star players behind her, mostly notably her partner in crime Damon Reece of Spiritualized, Massive Attack, and more. We got new Liz Fraser in 2022, dammit!
Let’s get this out of the way: this EP is in my Top 5 EPs of 2022 solely on the strength of the title track, which is undoubtedly my favorite song of 2022. The song is so good they included it on the EP twice. “Creative Source” is solid as well, “Love Me” is ok if not for a killer time machine to the French Touch heyday, and I can do without “Elevation”. It’s two masters lowering back down to Earth, bestowing us this otherworldly gift of “Step By Step” and lifting back off into deep space to tinker with the cosmos.
Ok here’s another rule of thumb (after you read the one on Mr Twin Sister’s blurb): if TOPS release something that year, chances are absolutely 100% that it will appear on a Warm Visions Best Of list. TOPS is truly a band that gets better with each release and with Empty Seats the band adds another five songs to their perfect run of the ’20s, which was topped with their best album yet. Singer Jane Penny is still on her A+ game, the band feels like they’re at their most confident, the pockets are getting deeper, and it sounds like the band knows they’re writing bangers. Windswept 80s pop throwbacks that will improve any mood and make you wistful for times when you partied the nights away.
Although it feels a bit more one-note compared to her brilliant debut EP One Life (also my favorite EP of 2019), Malibu continues to be a singular voice in the world of ambient electronic and one that I will listen to endlessly when the weather and mood are right. Slow-moving glaciers of synthetic strings stretch their way across vast soundscapes, with Malibu’s own vocals providing a semi-human touch, as at times her own voice will be stretched into oblivion, joining the calculated cacophony. As my final comparison between her two pieces of work, 2019’s One Life felt like an early morning sunrise, a plume of steamy breath on a cold morning validating a body full of life. Palaces Of Pity sighs and sinks deeper into a cozy abyss, the cold waters of northern seas lapping up beneath you to take you away in an eternal hypnosis. Finding euphoria in the expanse.
Each year since 2020, I’ve always had a dance EP that I’ve listened to on walks, runs, or anywhere I’m on the move to and from. It’s just an easy jolt of auditory caffeine, getting me in the mood to zoom to my destinations while also feeling good in the process. In 2020 it was I. JORDAN’s breakthrough For You EP. Last year it was Doss’ highly addictive 4 New Hit Songs. Both of those EPs were my favorites of their respective years. Two Shell had some insane competition this year, so landing at the #2 spot is still a worthy achievement.
Now I’m not on music twitter or irony music twitter, so I don’t really know the full lowdown of these guys except for music media losing their marbles over “Home” almost out of nowhere (and creating new genre labels for them – see “micro-rave” ??), and Two Shell themselves sending apparent doppelgängers to a Boiler Room set who were clearly just playing a pre-mixed set off a USB. While “Home” is a solid track and I always appreciate musicians rightfully skewing order and making people take themselves less seriously, I think the duo shine the most on the Icons EP, which straps listeners into a 25-minute roller coaster ride, full of hairpin twists & turns at unrelenting speed.
Every track quickly sinks barbs into you, locking you in for a ride of propulsive, rolling bass, gravity-defying low-ends, lightning-fast highs, and flurries of robotic voice snippets frame each track as the project careens along. I picture a little robot assistant popping in and out of the journey the EP takes the listener on, making it feel more and more like a thrill ride. If electronic dance music is even somewhat interesting to you, give Two Shell and their smartly cinematic and cohesive caravan take you on a trip.
My favorite EP throughout 2022, Blunt Chunks eponymous debut feels like the start of something huge. How more people nor publications didn’t get on this is still mind-boggling to me. Indie rock with a healthy country influence. How could you not love that? Aside from the overtly rockin’ “BWFW” (which kicks ass, despite sonically sticking out in the track list a bit), the syrupy melodies and fantastically arranged + produced tracks illuminate a mind with a smart studio presence alongside a sharp songwriter mind.
With the occasional lone slide guitar, old piano, burning ember electric guitar and vast soundstages, mental images of wide open spaces are easily evoked, while many of the lyrical themes center around being trapped or stuck, personal battles embroiled solely within. Just based off experiences I’ve observed and heard about from my NYC friends that are progressing through their 20s and now knocking on the door to their 30s, Blunt Chunks touches on many things that I’m sure cut deep for a lot of people: figuring out how to grow together with your partner, how to grow independently from your partner, breakups, dealing with mental and physical health issues, succumbing to bad behaviors and negative feedback loops, wanting to BE somebody. Speaking of which, if you don’t feel something on “Part Of Me”, I don’t know what to tell ya.
This EP doesn’t just open the door to Blunt Chunks, it blasts the dang things off the hinges. And that’s with music that’s pretty low key in sound for the most part. I haven’t been able to get enough of it, and I’ve been giving everyone in my vicinity an earful about it all year. It’s a masterful collection of tracks and it’s just the beginning.