25 Great EPs From 2023

25 Great EPs From 2023

For the past few years, we’ve dedicated a list during our year-end coverage to shortform releases. There’s no grand through-line for these sort of lists — it’s just 25 EPs that got us hyped up from artists all across the board. There are young bands showcasing developing talents; established acts taking a much necessary breather between LPs or offering us some might-have-beens from their previous albums; splits and collaborations and one-offs that just wouldn’t make sense in a full-length incarnation. Their runtimes might be minor, but they feel major.

Our 25 Great EPs From 2023 list is an addendum to our 50 Best Albums Of 2023 list, celebrating the year’s shorter releases so that we can highlight a larger pool of music. As with our albums list, we collectively voted on these as a staff (this time without the input of our freelancer pool), but every year I (James) write about all of them and make the tough final calls about what to include. As an exercise, the EPs list is not meant to be definitive or exhaustive, and we’re sure we missed some stellar releases. Let us know in the comments!

Read on for Stereogum’s list of 25 Great EPs From 2023, which are presented alphabetically by artist. There are also selections from these EPs in playlist form on Spotify and Apple Music.

Aphex Twin - Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760 (Warp)

One might accuse Richard D. James of being past his prime. One might say that he hasn’t made much artistic progression in at least the last decade, since SYRO came out in 2014. But listening to Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / in a room7 F760, I hear someone wholly confident in the electronic music landscape Aphex Twin helped shape. The tracks here are wobbly and immaculately conceived, oddly mournful but also exciting in their perfectly ordered, muted chaos.

Beach House - Become (Sub Pop)

Once Twice Melody: the gift that keeps on giving. If you thought that Beach House’s majestically sprawling 2022 album simply wasn’t enough, here we have Become, a collection of outtakes that stands on its own. The pair described the five songs within as part of the same world, “all kind of scuzzy and spacious, and live in the spirit realm.” That could apply to a lot of Beach House music, but it especially applies to these, which feel like rough-hewn gems from some expert miners of dream-pop melancholy.

Bleary Eyed - Bleary Eyed (Born Losers)

Bleary Eyed hail from the same fertile scene that has birthed bands like Knifeplay and They Are Gutting A Body Of Water in recent years. On their self-titled EP, they’re equal parts inscrutable and undeniable, sticky hooks emerging from smeary backdrops. “Wreck” is especially great, pulled along by a satisfyingly wonky blast of guitars to a chorus that, once you lock into it, you can’t stop yourself from singing along to: “You’re just more than obsessed and you’re always upset/ Always acting like a wreck.”

Crushed - Extra Life (ng+ / Funeral Party)

Last year, Bre Morell (leader of the dream-pop band Temple Of Angels) and Shaun Durkan (former Weekend frontman) were both in Los Angeles working on different projects when their paths crossed. They started making music together as Crushed; the vibe on their debut extra life is murky, moody, and immersive. There are many highlights: on “respawn,” Morell taps into a lower register and an aching vein, and “waterlily” feels like a swirling celestial dream.

Dawn Richard - The Architect (Merge)

Since breaking away from Danity Kane, Dawn Richard has established herself as an experimental pop musician eager to push the confines of what one might expect. She’s done an album trilogy; last year she collaborated with composer Spencer Zahn. Now comes The Architect, which she described as her version of a “traditional single release” — except that it’s three songs and comes with an overarching concept. The tracks on The Architect all bleed into each other, slippery and sexy, but it’s all centered around the confident and infectious “Bubblegum.”

Dazy - OTHERBODY (Lame-O)

I like to imagine that Dazy leader James Goodson has dozens of power-pop songs tucked away on his hard drive, all brilliant and all just waiting for the right time to make their way out into the world. OTHERBODY boasts eight of them, leftovers from the same time period he wrote last year’s OUTOFBODY, which was already packed with incredible songs. I especially like the ones here where he takes on a psychedelic tinge, like “Tucked Inside My Head” and “Always In Between,” a vein not so much explored on what we’ve heard from Dazy so far.

Dead Heat - Endless Torment (Triple B)

“So what’s the point in living if we’re all just meant to die?/ Spark the match and light it up/ Let’s kiss this fucking world goodbye.” So go the uncomplicated pleasures of Endless Torment, the latest thrasher from the Oxnard, CA band Dead Heat. Building off their excellent 2021 full-length World At War, Endless Torment finds the band even heavier and more in control of their frenzied, primal stomp.

Drab Majesty - An Object In Motion (Dais)

The Los Angeles duo Drab Majesty have been making goth-indebted songs for a decade now with varying degrees of success. Their mini-album An Object In Motion moves them away from aping the greats and more into their own style of nightmarish dreamscapes. Pounding synthesizers give way to haunting exploration, sky-scraping spindling guitars and songs that meander in weightless ambiguity. with spindling guitars and songs that meander in weightless ambiguity. They even recruited Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell for opening track “Vanity,” an otherworldly duet.

Fly Anakin - Skinemaxxx (Side A) (Lex)

Last year, the Richmond rapper Fly Anakin finally released his proper debut studio album after nearly 10 years of mixtapes and collaborations. He followed that up this year with Skinemaxxx, a two-part project that finds him looser and more locked-in. Working with frequent collaborator and Mutant Academy affiliate Foisey, the beats here are nostalgia-inducing, appropriate for Skinemaxxx‘s overarching concept of flipping through the channels and landing on something scandalous. Side A is the more potent of the two, with two surefire stunners: “Blicky Bop” and “Outsidigan’s Anthem,” both wheezy and knottily complicated.

Harmony - Dystopia Girl (Harmony's Fantasy Corp)

For nearly a decade, Harmony Tividad served up yearning rock songs as one-half of Girlpool. Toward the end of Girlpool’s run, Tividad’s songs were getting poppier and more au courant. Dystopia Girl, her debut solo release as Harmony, is informed by hyperpop but retains the sincerity of her earlier work, pushing her songwriting to thrilling new dimensions. There are anthems (“Good Things Take Time”), there are star-kissed wallows (the title track), and there are songs that split the difference, like “Shoplifting From Nike,” which manages both humor and heart.

Horse Jumper Of Love - Heartbreak Rules (Run For Cover)

“As I play music more, I just want to play quieter,” Horse Jumper Of Love’s Dimitri Giannopoulos said while talking about Heartbreak Rules, the mini-album he recorded over five days in the Catskills, separated from the rest of his Boston bandmates. Giannopoulos’ songwriting has always been tender and warm-hearted, and here the instrumentation is less alien and more direct. His folksy melodies sound even better with a more even-keel, less queasy and more confident.

Hudson Mohawke & Nikki Nair - Set The Roof (Warp)

Last year, the Scottish producer Hudson Mohawke made a much-welcome return with Cry Sugar, filled with beats so nasty they can’t help but make you smile. This year, he teamed up with Atlanta’s Nikki Nair, whose music operates in a similar zone, for Set The Roof, which combines their strengths into a collision of whizzes and bangs that are fun and filthy. “More Recently” is a good example of the pair’s basest impulses, but the real standout is its title track, where they invite Tayla Parx to spit over a track that will set the roof on fire.

Ice Spice - Like...? (10K / Capitol)

With “Munch,” a star was born. Ice Spice quickly skyrocketed to fame last fall with her surprise viral hit. Her LIke…? EP came out at the beginning of this year, quickly capitalizing on her newfound notoriety. It turned into a sort of living document of Ice Spice’s meteoric rise, expanded with two different editions that piled on more tracks and provided a fuller picture of the mealy-mouthed Bronx rappers talents, a showcase of a musician still figuring it out but one that’s dizzyingly compelling and intensely charismatic.

Kieran Hebden & William Tyler - Darkness, Darkness / No Services (Psychic Hotline)

The pairing of Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden and guitar maestro William Tyler was certainly unexpected, but damn does it sound good. Brought together for Psychic Hotline’s collaborative singles series, the two songs that Hebden and Tyler made together are meditative, exploratory, and uniquely thrilling. The result is something that sounds like neither and both of them at the same time. “Darkness, Darkness” is the more lively of the two, building into a heady groove across its 10 minutes of dynamo interplay.

Nerver & Chat Pile - Brothers In Christ (Reptilian / The Ghost Is Clear)

A couple years ago, Austin rippers Portrayal Of Guilt helped elevate Chat Pile’s profile when they put out a great split; the Oklahoma City band went on to put out one of the best albums of 2022. This year, Chat Pile helped out Kansas City’s Nerver in much the same way, teaming up with a split that is noisy and ferocious. If history bears repeating, we’re in for one hell of a Nerver LP next year.

NewJeans - Get Up (ADOR)

It was only a matter of time before the R&B wunderkind Erika de Casier got tapped to work on some big-deal pop music. What a pleasant surprise that the inevitable came by way of K-pop newcomers NewJeans, who worked with de Casier on the bulk of the songs on Get Up, including fantastic “Super Shy.” NewJeans have had great success in pushing K-pop in more subtle, sensual directions, and the songs on their second EP are gleaming but intimate, whispery tendrils that swirl into some irresistible pop songs.

One Step Closer - Songs For The Willow (Run For Cover)

Being in a band can be tough. After releasing their stellar 2021 debut This Place You Know, One Step Closer hit the road hard and experienced all the ups-and-downs that come with committing your time to music and losing a bit of life in the process. Frontman Ryan Savitski channeled his frustrations into the three-track Songs For The Willow EP. The lyrics are more discontented, expressing a yearning for rest and home, and the sound feels informed by those months touring, with hooks that feel more ready to be shouted back at them.

Rosalía & Rauw Alejandro - RR (Columbia / Duars / Sony Latin)

Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro released RR after both pop stars had big years in 2022 and just as the pair was becoming more open with displaying their relationship in public. A few months later, they broke up. Though the romance that inspired it is no more, the songs on RR capture the fuzziness that comes with being so close to someone. “Beso” and “Promesa” are cuddly and warm; “Vampiros” is the odd duck out and also the most exciting, a dark throb that expresses how invincible it can feel to take back the night with your baby.

Scowl - Psychic Dance Routine (Flatspot)

For a couple years now, Scowl have been one of the best underground hardcore bands going. With Psychic Dance Routine, they added some more melody to their already impressive arsenal, taking advantage of leader Kat Moss’ undeniable star-power and landing on a sound a bit smoother but no less invigorating. Look no further than “Shot Down,” where Moss whips herself between feral anger and sugary sweetness with every other line, a combination that would make Courtney Love proud.

Spirit Of The Beehive - I'm So Lucky (Saddle Creek)

Spirit Of The Beehive’s Zack Schwartz and Rivka Ravede ended their romantic relationship after a decade of writing songs and performing together in Spirit Of The Beehive. While many bands might break up under those circumstances, they forged ahead to make I’m So Lucky. The lyrics deal with the end of their relationship, a way to process the hurt that develops after any break-up while also trying to move forward with a creative partnership that hasn’t run out of gas. And with their characteristically warped sounds and off-kilter melodies, I’m So Lucky proves that Spirit still has plenty left in the tank.

Toro y Moi - Sandhills (Dead Oceans)

Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bear grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, and he returns to the Americana of his youth on Sandhills, leaving behind his decade-long exploration of chill-pop for a genre that lets his songwriting shine. The songs here are simple but intoxicating, nostalgic in the way that you might imagine a visit to your hometown would be. “I didn’t tell anyone I was comin’ home and I stayed for three months,” Bear sings on the comforting opening track “Back Then.” “Spent the summer in South Carolina, doin’ what I want.”

Two Shell - lil spirits (Mainframe Audio)

The anonymous UK duo Two Shell have been a lightning rod since they emerged onto the scene a couple years ago. They made this list last year with Icons, and their follow-up lil spirits is, by design, more scatterbrained. These tracks don’t build in so gratifying a way; instead, it sounds as though they’re constantly buffering, never quite able to come together into a cohesive whole. That makes for some fascinating results, especially on a track like “i m e s s a g e,” which applies that sonic philosophy to a breakdown in communication and feels like the anticipatory rush you might get while waiting for a text to finally deliver.

Webbed Wing - Right After I Smoke This... (Memory Music)

Away from his main band Superheaven, the Philadelphia musician Taylor Madison makes songs as Webbed Wing, songs that sound like, in some alternate reality, our own Tom Breihan might be writing about them over on The Alternative Number Ones in a couple years. The ones on Right After I Smoke This… are all about not being able to escape your own emotions, and Madison renders those feelings in howling hooks that make that eternal struggle seem universal.

Wishy - Paradise (Winspear)

Wishy’s Nina Pitchkites and Kevin Krauter trade off vocal and songwriting duties but the both have a similar sensibility, easygoing earworms that might not reveal themselves on first listen but inevitably get stuck in your head. Their debut Paradise is breezy and dreamy and occasionally coalesces into something more forceful — see “Too True,” Krauter’s fuzzy concluding track, and especially “Donut,” Pitchkites’ busy contribution that captures the uneasy feeling of having to drive on arickety temporary tire after your real one’s popped.

Zach Bryan - Boys Of Faith (Belting Bronco / Warner)

Zach Bryan had his first brush with tabloid-style fame earlier this year after he was arrested in Oklahoma, not long after he notched his first #1 album and song. The prolific musician’s version of relishing in the attention was to head to the studio. Hiding away from the spotlight, he called up some friends — rising folk-pop artist Noah Kahan, veteran indie-folk artist Bon Iver — and recorded some surging country songs, which are widescreen but easygoing, a testament to why Bryan has become such a staple so quickly.

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