We're nearly 50% into 2014, so it's the perfect time to look back at some of the best EPs of 2014 so far. South London trio Happyness did their best Weezer impression on their Americana influenced debut EP, which NME’s Barry Nicholson claimed ''brimmed with the bravado and naivety of youth."
Joining the Brummie class of ‘14, Superfood’s ‘MAM’ EP had its head in the ’90s, with rose-tinted circle spectacles firmly in place. NME's Eve Barlow was dubious about their retromania, but decided in her 7/10 review that "when they reproduce the careless ramble of their shambolic gigs on ‘Bubbles’ and ‘Melting’, you’ll forget to ask 'what year are we in?'"
A surprisingly heavy affair for a band who first caught critics' attention with a song called ‘Taylor Swift’, Speedy Ortiz shone with these songs about mutually manipulative relationships. NME's Laura Snapes was drawn firmly under their witchy spell and declared: "‘Real Hair’ works like a oujia board: dangerous, addictive fun with the potential for unwelcome answers."
Snatching the baton of "Co-punk-hagen" from Iceage’s grip and surfing away with it, Communions' 'Cobblestones' impressed NME’s Louis Pattison back in February, who applauded their lo-fi efforts and added "they sound like they’re carving out a strong character of their own."
Leeds-based duo Menace Beach delivered this 14 minute blast of alt-rock anthemics in January. With nods to Archers Of Loaf, Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine, NME's Noel Gardner praised 'Lowtalker' for mastering "that two-decades-old indie sound of rumbling bass and vocal indolence."
A husband-and-wife duo from Denver, Tennis rare adorably twee. NME’s Mark Beaumount enjoyed their offer of "marvellous alt.pop snuggliness" on 'Small Sound', which saw them flip between scandi-pop, electro fuzz and ’80s funk.
With the temptation to play safely surely weighing heavy, Pixies showed that old dogs could learn new tricks on ‘EP2’, delivering what Mark Beaumount called "the glossier Pixies record that never got made between the harsh metallic slashes of ‘Trompe Le Monde’ and the esoteric melodicism of Frank Black’s solo debut."
Hanging out with Kanye can be a random act bestowed on the unsuspecting, as Joshua Leary, aka Evian Christ former Primary School Teacher from Cheshire found out when he was plucked from obscurity to feature on ‘Yeezus’. His debut EP, ‘Waterfall’, was commended by Al Horner as capable of "kidnapping your attention."
Alt-folkies FAMY sacked off their disco side project Los Porcos and got their guitars in gear to produce their debut EP in 2014. Reviewing for NME, Rhian Daly called it "good clean fun" and full of "soaring, stomping folk-pop."
Inspired by the Spacemen 3 song of the same name, Brighton trio Hypnotized drew together the best parts of their live show on this EP. NME's Stuart Huggett said, "Most of 'Telesto' is focused enough to suggest greater trips to come."
Pixies' third EP of 2014 "completes a varied and imaginative new Pixies phase with no little panache", according to Mark Beaumount, who awarded it 8/10.
An EP of "subtle pleasures", London’s IYDES impressed NME's Gavin Haynes. "'Aldkrome II' heads for the softly fizzing breaks of early Aphex Twin before deciding it has become drunk on power and opts instead for something more low-key."
Brood released this self-titled EP in January. Produced by Joel Little, who has also worked with Lorde, this six-tracker shares a similar pop vein. NME’s Hayley Avron singled out the song ‘Never Gonna Change’ for praise, saying, "It's suitably brooding refrain gets under the skin, leaving a scar of melancholia."
Deeply indebted to the trip-hop scene of the ’90s, newcomer Blue Daisy excited NME's Ben Cardew, who knew exactly where her inspiration had come from: "Daisy’s gnarled whisper on ‘Psychotic Love’ is pure Tricky, and the production, too, reeks of the smoke-haze urban blues that Bristol’s wayward son perfected on his debut."
As NME's Leonie Cooper observed of Wet's self-titled effort: "They sing of love and romance and its almost always messy outfall, but their impressive four-track debut EP is anything but slushy. Spacious R&B underpinned by an icy, 1980s groove, their sophisticated brand of feelings-funk fits neatly into the Blood Orange/Solange spectrum."
Röyksopp and Robyn, from Norway and Sweden respectively, are best mates, and their mini-album 'Do It Again' will be played on a joint tour this summer. "It begins with a stunner," said NME's Phil Hebblethwaite. "‘Monument’ is a winding and mystical 10-minute epic containing startlingly self-confident lyrics."
Wolf Alice's second EP, ‘Creature Songs’ finds them sounding more raucous than before. ''The first half comes on like the ritual sacrifice of Throwing Muses with Courtney Love’s rustiest guitar strings,'' said NME's Mark Beaumont, ''before ‘Heavenly Creatures’ and ‘We Are Not The Same’ indulge their softer psychedelic doom-folk side."