Time now for what always proves to be our most hotly contested list each year. EPs are such an important creative tool for new artists especially, and there’s such a wealth of them out there that we barely scratch the surface of them with the few that fit in our Spotlight! series. In a way this feels like the most important list of the season as it gives us chance to shine a light on releases that we don’t otherwise get the opportunity to talk about. Great things often come in small packages, and here are our picks for the EPs that left the biggest impressions in 2022.
10. Quiet Sonia – All Black Horses Came Thundering
An admittedly last minute addition, and perhaps one that would have risen higher had I been able to spend more time with it, but this Danish chamber rock ensemble really made an impression on me with this release. Sparse and subtle, expansive and elegant. It takes a quiet, unhurried and meticulous approach to building up a wonderfully haunting space.
9. Kitty Perrin – Stick It Out
The warm welcoming arrangements are what pulls you in, but it’s the lyricism that instils in you the desire to stay and keep listening on repeat. Kitty has a knack for writing with strength, maturity and openness. Looking inward at the places within, which most of us would rather board up and forget, her words providing both a window into her heart and a mirror into our own.
8. Kris Angelis – Damn Shame Waste
From the warm country twang of ‘Paper Planes’, to the haunting elegant waltz of ‘Win the Game’. The intricate indie folk of ‘Earthquake’, and finding romance in heartbreak on ‘A Happy Song’. LA based singer/songwriter Kris Angelis just seems to capture perfectly everything that she tries her hand at on this record, with her crystal clear vocals acting as a unifying central thread.
7. Natalie Shay – Milk
Belwood favourite Natalie Shay gives this collection of songs about growth, self-reflection and new beginnings a shimmering 80s pop sheen. The production is so vibrant and full of life, heart on sleeve lyricism is the order of the day, and the effervescent earworm hooks practically lift you to your feet and urge you to dance. Her best collection of songs to date, and her star is still on the rise.
6. Tommy Ashby – Floorboards
Whether against a backdrop of hazy soundscapes and driving rhythms on ‘Not That Far To Go’, foot-stomping indie folk on ‘A Beautiful Day’ or the raw and sparse acoustic arrangement of the title track, Tommy Ashby’s gift for crafting enthrallingly sweet melodies always manages to take centre stage. An EP overflowing with charm from start to finish.
5. Winnie Raeder – I Could Swim
Still possessing the kind of breath-taking vocals that just seem to make the world stand still, the latest EP from Danish born singer/songwriter Winnie Raeder introduces a darker and more experimental edge to her sparse and serene sound. More than any release on this list, I Could Swim feels like a collection of songs that are meant to be together, that combine to form an EP greater than the sum of its parts.
4. Jenny Kern – Your Heart Knows
A break-up record buoyed by an undercurrent of hope. One that focuses on the growth and lessons learned, that reflects on the time shared and the memories made rather than what was lost. Flitting between a dreamy cinematic haze, shimmering synth driven grooves and some of the biggest pop hooks of the year, Jenny Kern was on fire with particular batch of tracks.
3. Ber – And I’m Still Thinking About That
Dabbling playfully with everything from delicate folk and beguiling bossa nova, to electronic grooves and passionate pop hooks that pluck at your heartstrings. It gives you just enough of a taster of everything for each track to leave you wanting more in the best possible sense, and is just the right amount of rough around the edges to give the whole EP a sense of rawness and sincerity. The most charming release I’ve heard all year, and the perfect introduction to Ber’s artistry.
2. Julien Baker – B-Sides
Traditionally B-Sides are thought of as the off-cuts; the extra spare parts that just didn’t quite manage to reach the same level of the main record. These three tracks certainly aren’t to the standard of last year’s Little Oblivions – they excel far beyond it. Honestly some of her best work, which is really saying something. It’s a release that will have slipped past many people’s radar I fear, and I thank my lucky stars that I caught it.
1. Of Monsters And Men – Tíu
When the band stepped away from their anthemic indie folk roots in favour of electronic alt pop on 2019’s Fever Dream, the result was a mixed bag at best. No one can begrudge a band for wanting to experiment, but they lost a bit of their spark and identity somewhere along the way. Tíu is a glimpse into an alternate future at what Fever Dream could have been. Adding a dash of darkness and grungy grit, while still keeping some great hooks front and centre, it’s a stunning evolution of the band’s sound and something that the world desperately needs more of!