25 Great EPs From 2022
We’ve been publishing a year-end list spotlighting EPs for a while now, and they are not exactly conducive to mapping out any sort of trends. Below, you’ll find music of varying stripes: hardcore firestarters, star-making rap collections, a fair share of reliably consistent or exceptionally promising indie rock. The one thing I will note about 2022 is that there are more split EPs here than usual. Perhaps that’s a lingering effect of the pandemic, as bands are still recuperating to record their own full-lengths, or maybe the sense of forming a community over the course of a handful songs seemed more appealing than ever before.
Our 25 Great EPs list is meant as an addendum to Stereogum’s 50 Best Albums Of 2022 list so that we can celebrate this year’s shorter releases and highlight a larger pool of music. (Lists for specific genres will also follow in the weeks to come.) We collectively voted on these as a staff, but every year I write about all of them and make some final decisions about what to include and exclude, which means that the results probably trend toward my taste a bit more than a true consensus list might.
That also means that the EPs list is not meant to be exhaustive or definitive, but what list really is? Because of their very nature, EPs sometimes slip through the cracks. We are eager to hear your picks in the comments below.
I’m not sure that the pairing of awakebutstillinbed and For Your Health makes sense on paper. Both bands make hard, scrappy, intense music, but they come at that sound through different means — one with emo melodicism, the other with an omnivorous post-hardcore spirit. But Shannon Taylor and Hayden Rodriguez, the leaders of their respective projects, have been friends for a long time, and they meet each other in the sonic middle on their split Hymns For The Scorned. Taylor packs a syrupy hook into the searing “Fear,” while Rodriguez lets their band stretch out and morph over the course of the epic “A Word Of Warning For The Pyrrh Of Heart.”
French house pioneers Alan Braxe and DJ Falcon, aka cousins Alain and Stéphane Quême, have nothing left to prove after decades of work that includes some close collaborations with Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter. For Step By Step, they tried to channel the sense of wonder they had in the early days of their career: “A world of discovery, just making music without any preconceived notions or rules,” as they put. These four tracks are sunny and sliding, and among them is its effervescent, undeniable title track, a collaboration with Panda Bear that feels like an all-timer.
It’s a very Burial move to classify ANTIDAWN as an EP when it stretches past the 40-minute mark, but it also makes sense that the reclusive producer might want to temper expectations for it. Though ANTIDAWN is an immersive, often spine-tingling listen, its tracks are tenuous and largely atmospheric. But the ambience that Burial conjures up here is stark and bleak and beautiful, the latest chapter in William Bevan’s slip into the liminal ether, further chronicled on Streetlands in the fall and seemingly for a long while to come.
Earlier this year, the Tampa rapper Doechii became Top Dawg Entertainment’s latest signee after her 2020 track “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” went viral. That track is a tour de force that slips between intimidating and introspective, and she toggles between those two modes again on this year’s she / her / black bitch, whose four main tracks all feature the word “bitch” in their titles and manage to embrace all the celebratory and derogatory connotations that come with being designated as such. She wraps things up with a new version of “Persuasive,” whose smoothness is all too appropriate for SZA, who welcomes Doechii to the TDE family by popping up on the remix.
After DJ Python was commissioned to make an official remix for Ela Minus’ Acts Of Rebellion, the pair of producers started sending each other recommendations for books, films, and music that they thought the other one would be interested in. It was that ongoing conversation that resulted in their first-ever collaboration together, ♡, which they refer to as “corazón.” That sort of unspeakable title feels appropriate for the songs here, which were created during the height of the pandemic and sound dreamy and pulse with a desire for connection forged during an intense period of isolation.
Unpleasant Living opens with a sample of Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces,” a high-grade troll move that quickly disintegrates into one of the Baltimore city hardcore band’s stomping riffs. End It have a grade-A shit-talker up front in the form of Akil Godsey. “What’s shaking, you fucking chumps?” they goad. “You don’t like us and we don’t like you/ Use your 24 to mind your fucking business, and I’ll mind mine, bitch.” Unpleasant Living is in and out in 8 minutes, but End It make a huge impression in that time.
Football, etc. are music lifers. If you have any doubt about that, check out the chorus of “Howler”: “And if I die tonight/ Tell everyone I know/ The last show/ That I went to.” Before Vision, we hadn’t heard from the Houston emo band for five years, but they returned in fine form. Their songs are sparkling and warm, and they’re given an extra boost here by producer J. Robbins, who guides the band’s swells and puts Lindsay Minton’s vocals at the fore, lending these tracks a slippery, sludgy quality.
Fugitive is the new project led by Power Trip’s resident riff-slinger Blake Ibanez. The Texas band came roaring into existence earlier this year with Maniac, a fearsome, furious blast of thrash metal delivered with a growling confidence by Skourge frontman Seth Gilmore. Ibanez writes and produces the songs, though, and he’s found a home for his searing guitar-playing following the tragic loss of Riley Gale. Fugitive, which also features members of Impalers and Creeping Death, are already slicing and dicing with the best of them, a force to be reckoned with.
On the latest entry in his Glitterer side project, Title Fight co-founder Ned Russin reflects on the deaths of Power Trip’s Riley Gale and Iron Age’s Wade Allison through four different songs — called the Fantasy Four — that try to imagine what will happen when we all eventually go. The tracks range from numbing to comforting, and all of them are wounded and deeply affecting. “If we’re not dust/ I hope it’s nice and fair/ If we go on/ I hope I’ll see you there,” he sings on highlight “Hello.” “If there’s a place/ I hope it’s nice and warm/ I’m sorry if I keep you waiting long.”
It’s hard to make an underground rap hit. It’s even harder to deliver on the promise of a stray song, which is what the Memphis-based rapper GloRilla did when she followed up the infectious breakout “F.N.F. (Let’s Go)” with not just a slick Cardi B guest verse but a whole project that provided a showcase for this gravelly-voiced, exciting young talent. Anyways, Life’s Great… has its fair share of gleefully raunchy moments (one track called “Nut Quick” is self-explanatory) but GloRilla also digs deep, exploring her faith and what happens when success comes at you impossibly fast.
Greet Death spent the first half of the year releasing all the songs that would eventually make up their New Low EP as a series of standalone singles. That sort of extended rollout made sense for the Flint, Michigan band, as they expanded beyond the heavy shoegaze that existed on 2019’s New Hell and rejiggered themselves as a group capable of so much more. New Low boasts tracks with pummeling alt-rock riffage (“Panic Song”), folky acoustics (“I Hate Everything”), and some slowcore in the form of “Your Love Is Alcohol” and “Punishment Existence” that suggest that Greet Death are only just getting started.
Home Is Where & Record Setter - dissection lesson (Topshelf / Father/Daughter)
“We wanted to make something for the girls to pop off to,” Home Is Where’s Brandon MacDonald said while explaining the impetus behind her band’s split with Record Setter. Both bands are fronted by trans women, and Dissection Lesson channels the scurrying fury MacDonald and Record Setter’s Judy Mitchell so often feel. These songs are throat-shredding, riveting towers of sound featuring messages that deserve to be yelled out: “No more victims/ No more missing girls/ Arm trans women/ By any means, these queens are ready,” Macdonald sings on one, ending on the bleeding-edge scream: “I’m a woman, suck my dick.”
Hotline TNT have toed the line between hyper-online and disconnected. Over the past couple years, the band has left a trail of breadcrumbs in the form of self-released tapes and singles and one full-length album, last year’s Nineteen In Love. But the best way to catch them has been IRL, as they’ve established themselves firmly in the camp of your favorite band’s favorite opener, playing for the likes of Snail Mail, Ceremony, Soccer Mommy, and more in the last year, in addition to all the DIY-booked shows they headline themselves. When You Find Out is their strongest collection of songs to date — the best one on it is probably “Boundary,” eminently likable, satisfyingly fuzzed-out, and a little twisted.
Hovvdy settled in for the long haul on last year’s True Love, an album that found Charlie Martin and Will Taylor reflecting on romance and domesticity. This year, they returned with Billboard For My Feelings, made up of a few leftovers from the True Love sessions that distill that album’s charms into four songs that are satisfyingly shaggy and warm. Opener “Ruby” is itchy and bright, while “Town” starts off blasted-out but gets entangled in guitars that suck the listener in like a steel trap, but all of them show off the Texas duo’s growing penchant for subtle, affecting hooks.
The New York City band Jobber has some excellent musicians in its ranks: Kate Meizner, who has toured with Snail Mail and Potty Mouth, and Mike Falcone, formerly of Speedy Ortiz and Ovlov. The songs they make together are gnarled and sticky sweet, filled with entangled guitars and a comforting layer of noise. From the band name on down, their debut EP Hell In A Cell draws connections between one of Meizner’s personal obsessions (wrestling) and her profession (musician). The conclusion: It’s hard out there, we’re all performing, and we’re all just a minute away from getting knocked out.
On the heels of last year’s explosive GAMI GANG, Origami Angel spent 2022 exploring two different but complementary sides of their sound. They leaned into snotty hardcore on DEPART, but shined even brighter on re: turn, which finds the duo softer and more inviting. “penn hall,” the first song that Ryland Heagy ever wrote, is charming in its juvenilia; “francis” is a hollowed-out husk of emotion; and “live from the ufo” concludes the three-track run with a chiming, underlined hook: “I’m so lucky, I’m so grateful, even if I’m so goddamned confused.”
Parannoul and Asian Glow are two entities that are based out of Seoul but seem to largely exist online, popular in the sort of circles that love to rank music in tier lists. They first teamed up on-record last year when they released a collaborative album with the Brazilian project Sonhos Tomam Conta. They kept things intracountry with Paraglow, which combines Parannoul’s blistering shoegaze with Asian Glow’s more scatter-brained, pop-minded sound. It’s lurching and glittery and occasionally pulverizing, music that is all over the place in the best way.
The members of Remember Sports crackle off each other in the studio and on the stage, but Leap Day was recorded as many things were over the past couple years: from their bedrooms, trading these songs back and forth. It’s a bit softer and more muted than the barbed indie-pop that the Philadelphia band has traded in over the past decade, but Carmen Perry’s curdled melodies still ring like a bell. “We could ice each other out,” she sings on the title track. “But I think it’s too cold for that right now.”
The shadowy UK collective SAULT released a whole lot of material this year, primarily in unconventional ways — their biggest gambit was putting out five whole albums that were locked behind a password. In October, they released Angel as a single 10m10s track, on 10/10, with a giant X on the cover. That interconnected enough for you? The conceptual side might be exhausting, but the music is anything but: “Angel,” or Angel, or whatever, consists of three stitched-together laidback, soulful tracks that pull from reggae and soul and sounds as peaceful as it does revelatory.
A couple months before releasing a new full-length album called Is It Going To Get Any Deeper Than This?, the Soft Pink Truth — the solo project of Matmos’ Drew Daniel — put out a mini-album, Was It Ever Real?, headed up by a deliciously twisty take on his album’s title track, an enveloping seven-minute house groove. That’s accompanied by three other songs that groove and pop and fizz, including a hypnotic, squicky take on Coil’s “The Anal Staircase.”
Cocteau Twins legend Elizabeth Fraser hadn’t released any music of her own in 13 years before Sun’s Signature, the debut EP from the project of the same name that she began with her partner Damon Reece, a drummer who has played with the likes of Spiritualized, Massive Attack, and Goldfrapp. The songs they created as Sun’s Signature are filled with sky-scraping guitars and a playful, hauntingly expansive atmosphere — take the muffled, baroque energy of “Bluedusk” or the twinkling, sweeping opener “Underwater.” And of course Fraser’s voice glides above it all, often unintelligible but always emotionally legible.
They Are Gutting A Body Of Water & A Country Western - An Insult To The Sport (Topshelf)
They Are Gutting A Body Of Water and A Country Western both hail from Philadelphia’s growing contingent of rock music that’s delivered in a soupy, often impenetrable haze. An Insult To The Sport serves as a showcase for that sound — five songs split between the two bands that feel like getting sucked into a vortex. TAGABOW’s half is grounded by the monstrous “The Brazil,” which sputters and speeds through six minutes worth of chainsaw guitars and culminates in a glitched-out breakdown. A Country Western’s side starts off fractured but becomes more straitlaced as it goes, culminating in the pinched and nervy “Crossing Out My Lines.”
The production duo Two Shell have spent the past couple years rising and antagonizing the UK electronic underground with a sound that filtered bass through a bit of hyperpop. After a series of EPs and vinyl-exclusive singles, Icons feels like their first stab at some sort of definitive statement. Five immersive, twitchily hypnotic tracks that are built from subtle, shuffling beats and filled with robotic missives that sound like they’re being broadcast from outer space. It’s restrained but all-consuming, and on closer “Mainframe” they break out of their established formula for something that’s more mangled and immediately visceral.
Warthog want to confound you. The New York band has been chugging along for a decade, and in that time, amid various other goings-on, they’ve released not one, not two, but three self-titled EPs. They made this list once before, and they’re back to tear shit up yet again. Warthog, 2022 style, isn’t much different than the one that came out in 2018 or the one that came out in 2016, and why mess with a good thing? Fronted by Christopher Hansell, who used to scream with the Men, Warthog make music that is scuzzy while also sounding clean and propulsive and completely overwhelming.
Your Old Droog doesn’t slow down, and he hasn’t for years. The New York rapper has released a long string of EPs this year, with goofy names like Yod Wave and Yodney Dangerfield and The Yodfather. Yod Stewart has no real relation to its namesake, but the songs are lush and warm, with production credits from Tha God Fahim, Nicholas Craven, and Conductor Williams, among others. It’s another effortless, enticing collection of musings in a catalog that seems to be forever growing.