Vinyl is mainstream again. Hipsters are into cassettes. Heaven knows some asshole out there is trying to make 8-tracks happen again. Another dinosaur of the 80’s has recently roared back — the EP — or “extended play” which is ironic since an EP is half an album if you’re lucky. Robyn’s massively successful Body Talk series and Royksopp hook-up made the format vogue again for the first time since Belle & Sebastian and the Beta Band embraced the trickle out effect and scored hits. Even Fleetwood Mac’s underrated latest small batch is called Extended Play.

New artists have been using the EP as a way to test the waters with bloggers and fans — easy to give away or sell cheap. Easy to digest and review. Of the hundreds of EPs that have landed on my desk as of late, here are some stellar standouts:

Honeyrunners EP2

The Honeyrunners • EP2

Americana: RIYL Mumford & Sons, the Lone Bellow, Zac Brown Band, the Heavy, Alabama Shakes

If you’ve got the fever after watching the blistering Zac Brown Band/Nashville episode of Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highways series, the Honeyrunners (pictured atop this post) might be just the more cowbell you are looking for. They serve up heaps of harmonies, southern fried guitars, gospel euphoria and more hooks than a trout fisherman in Tennessee. OK, not sure of the metaphor works, but the music on EP2 sure does.

The only shocking thing about these roots and blues fed good old southern boys is they’re from the Great White North — Toronto to be exact. The mayor might be smoking crack but these boys are smokin’ hot with edgy riffs and warm choruses. Imagine vintage Black Crowes or the Allman Brothers drenched in modern soul ala one of my favorite UK acts, the Heavy (a band most Americans know from that badass Kia car commercial).

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Connect with the Honeyrunners on facebook. Get EP2 here — and while you’re at it, EP1.

Emergency Tiara

Emergency Tiara • Until The Stroke of Midnight

Pop: RIYL Tracey Ullman, The Pipettes, Rachel Sweet, Audrey Hepburn

Like Lady Gaga before her, Emergency Tiara knows the importance of branding. She is way easier to find via Google search than the thousands of generically-monikered fresh voices that trumpet their 15 minutes on The Voice and American Idol. Tiara delivers exactly what you expect from the name: elegance, whimsy and fashion, all wrapped in the musical equivalent of a Tiffany’s box. If Mad Men were set in modern Manhattan, Draper would only have eyes and ears for her. Time Out recently named Emergency Tiara among the city’s most stylish, but that don’t mean a thing if the lady can’t sing, and boy can she ever:

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Buy the EP right here. Connect with Emergency Tiara on facebook.

Ray Goren

Ray Goren • The LA Sessions

Blues, Guitar RockRIYL Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, BB King

Ray Goren is in a jam. He looks (and is) 14, but he sings and plays guitar like a seasoned blues veteran. His generation is at least a decade from getting into this stuff, once they wean from teen pop, discover reggae as college freshmen and then jam bands and finally alternative rock. Will geezers like me embrace him right now? I hope so. His tracks fit seamlessly in playlists with Jack White, The Black Keys, Gary Clark Jr. — and of all bands, Steely Dan. An embed for the epic LA Sessions EP is not available, but you can hear it here.

That said, Goren already has a new EP out, Save My Soul, with a title track that you CAN hear, right here:

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For more music, downloads and tour dates, connect with Ray Goren on facebook.

Man with a Mission

Man With a Mission • When My Devil Rises

Industrial/MetalRIYL Slipknot, NIN, Foo Fighters, Dead Kennedys
 
Slipknot has the #1 album in the country right now (until Taylor Swift enters Wednesday), their own Sid Wilson remixed an earlier single called, ‘The Distance’, by Japan’s Man With a Mission. MWAM takes Slipknot’s manic energy and channels it into much more melodic, yet equally aggressive, guitar rock that you can dance and destroy things to. Do they need the Wolf masks? Not really. Was it really punk rock to launch their last EP with an essay contest for teens? Nope. Do they rock? Hell the fuck yes. 2014’s Devil EP, and the predecessor, Don’t Feel the Distance, make a thundering one-two punch. Really fun, totally over the top, ear-bleeding rockers ideal for fans of early Nine Inch Nails or current era Foo Fighters. My only advice: ditch the masks; nobody fighting to stay alive in the pit at your concerts will care how pretty or ugly you are! Then there’s the brand confusion — either go with the “Man With a Mission Theme” and dress all James Bond/Mission Impossible — or go with the wolf theme and change your name to Satan’s Puppiez, The Hounds of Blüd or Wolf Blitzer.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/133559622″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Now, speaking of pretty boys…

Daivd Paige

David Paige • Inside Out

Rock • RIYL Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Robbie Williams
 
Take one look at the dapper man on the cover of the EP and you’ll think David Paige is the next Michael Bublé. Listen to the disc without prejudice and you’d think this is New jersey-era Bon Jovi. Early this year, Popdose premiered Paige’s spot-on Ferris Bueller homage, ‘Are You Ready?’ — see it here. The Inside Out EP delivers more arena-ready rock including that single. Paige goes for big choruses that just beg for lighters — not cell phones — freakin’ lighters. The EP is impeccably produced with a big sound that Bob Rock or Mutt Lange would be proud of. Here’s hoping his next EP includes five more on the scale of these four rockers (and the obligatory power ballad).
 
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127229148″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
 
But wait, there’s more!
 
David Paige Unplugged
David also has a new acoustic EP, get a free download of a reworked ‘Inside Out’ right here:
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/171205073″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Connect with David Paige on facebook.

Kate Voegele Wild Card EP

Kate Voegele • The Wild Card

Pop, Country: RIYL: Taylor Swift, Sara Barielles, P!nk

In an interview with Popdose published yesterday, read it here, the lovely One Tree Hill alum and Cleveland native takes us behind the scenes of her dazzling new EP — on sale today. It’s a beautiful set, swirling with country accents (lead single ‘Just Watch Me’), indie rock hooks (‘Carousel’ and ‘Ooh La La’) and an enchanting duet, ‘Caught Up In You’, with Inland Sky. Set closer, ‘When I’m Gone’ is a shoo-in to be American Idol’s exit music in 2015. We won’t miss Idol when it’s gone, but with a full-length on the way, Kate Voegele promises be making beautiful music for a long time to come.

Pick up The Wild Card here.

About the Author

Keith Creighton

Keith is a music correspondent for Popdose and an advocate on women's empowerment, gender identity and gender liberation issues. His Popdose beats include new releases (reviews, interviews), box sets and reissues, and Gender Nation X (coloring outside gender's rigid lines). He's marketing writer by day for Sudden Monkey.

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