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In Review: Top 10 EPs of 2022
A list of my favourite non-albums of the year.
Well, shit. That went by all too quickly, didn’t it? It feels like only a few weeks have passed since my mid-year roundup, and yet here we are. End of the line once again. As is tradition, we’ll start this hallowed End-of-Year list season with a roundup of exceptional non-album releases. Here are ten favourites of mine pulled from a swath of standout 2022 releases, listed in a very democratic alphabetical sequence (also known as the “coward’s order”).
Who doesn’t love a good quick ‘n’ dirty EP? Enjoy!
Top 10 EPs of 2022
Duvel – Talking to Ourselves
“Less than a year after the release of their spectacular self-titled album (and one of my favourite records of 2021), the self-confessed “alpha-dandys of the Oslo underground” are back with a shiny new banger. “Don’t Fall In Love (With Me) finds Duvel doing what the young quartet do best: singing about forlorn relationships and clouds of nose beers over the top of bright Brit-pop arrangements, aching acoustic guitars, and an upbeat, dancefloor bridge section. It rocks.” (Weekly Roundup)
Envision – And Still…
“I’m not entirely sure why but there’s a relative dearth of information about And Still..., the most recent release from South Florida wrecking crew Envision, out now through From Within Records. Why is this a concern? Well, because the four-track EP is a vital slice of vegan straight-edge hardcore in the vein of Inclination, Dare and Unspoken. Considering the band’s drummer Lennon is also the frontman of Ecostrike (who dropped their great A Truth We Still Believe LP back in 2020) and the owner of Plead Your Case Records, this level of hardcore pedigree is hardly surprising.” (Weekly Roundup)
Foreign Hands – Bleed the Dream
“Back in January, I declared Delaware quintet Foreign Hands to be following the formula for the perfect metalcore record from my overstuffed brain. Well, having now listened to said EP several times over, I can confirm that the record feels like taking a tour through metalcore’s early 00s Golden Age. ‘Anemoia’ opens with a thunderous cavalcade destined to make even the most ardent early Cave In adopter quake in their boots, while lead single ‘Separation Souvenir’ acts as the spiritual successor to the 7 Angels 7 Plagues throne—punchy snare hits, angular lead riffs, spoken word vocals and all.” (Weekly Roundup)
Fugitive – Maniac
“Since the tragic passing of frontman Riley Gale in 2020, the members of Texan thrash outfit Power Trip have been laying low, taking time to grieve and regroup. Now, with help from current and past members of Skourge, Impalers, and Creeping Death, axeman Blake Ibanez has released the debut EP from his newest project, Fugitive. Maniac is four tracks of raw galloping thrash metal cut through with a no-frills hardcore punk attitude. The release also features a rollicking cover of Bathory’s 1984 classic “Raise The Dead,” keeping the group’s metal bonafides firmly in check.” (Weekly Roundup)
Koyo – Ten Digits Away
If I had to make a list of my most anticipated albums of 2023 (and, as a self-described “list guy,” you know I would), the highly anticipated debut full-length from Koyo would be right at the top. I had 2021’s Drive Out East on my previous list, and while we may have only got a handful of standalone singles this year (packaged up as the Ten Digits Away three-track), it was still enough to satiate my appetite for anthemic melodic hardcore/pop punk in the vein of Long Island legends like Crime In Stereo and The Movielife. These guys keep killing it with everything they do, and I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
nightlife – fallback
“I’ve been enamoured with Baltimore trio nightlife ever since I came across the video for their debut single, “New Low,” midway through 2021. Their three-track EP of the same name was one of my stand-out EPs of that year, with an “effortless and cohesive sound” that managed to pull together “smooth croons, funky vibes, and infectious grooves.” On fallback, that sense of booty-shaking groove remains, this time suffused through with even funkier production, lavish horn sections, and saccharine vocal theatrics.” (Weekly Roundup)
Puffer – Live and Die in the City
“Sometimes, a little mystery can go a long way. Scour the internet for information on Montreal punks Puffer, and you're bound to come up short. The absence of details makes the newly formed quintet's RoachLeg Records demo, Live and Die in the City, all the more impressive. Featuring five tracks of fast ‘n’ fun hardcore punk of the old-school variety packed with burly vocals, rocking refrains, and quicksilver guitar licks, it’s a recipe for a ripping basement show.” (Exclaim!)
Seed Toss – Love Business
“I came across this release off the back of a random tweet, and man, this thing rules so hard. If Elon succeeds in finally tanking the bird site, I’ll miss having these types of discoveries light up my music library. Seed Toss hail from Montreal, and they’re purveyors of “non-complex music” with a desire to “bring it back to just having fun playing sugar-coated songs.” What does that mean, you ask? Well, kind of like all the best bits of Weezer but not for cowards. It’s dope—trust me.” (Weekly Roundup)
Softcult – Year of the Snake
“Formed by twin sisters Phoenix and Mercedes Arn-Horn, Ontario siblings Softcult explore the nostalgic reverie of '90s grunge and shoegaze and shine them up for their own purposes. Across their six-track, all-hits-no-skips Year of the Snake, cuts like “BWBB” and “Gaslight” fuse moody melodies with lush instrumentals and fierce feminist lyricism, while the shimmering “Perfect Blue” expands their self-described "music for mall goths" sound into pedal-powered bliss.” (Exclaim!)
SPEED – Gang Called Speed
“While Australian hardcore has always had the talent to break through internationally—Day of Contempt, Miles Away, and Extortion, to mention but a few—we've never had flagbearers quite like SPEED. If the hard-style, white-knuckled rage and posse-cut video aesthetic of 2021's standalone single “WE SEE U” was a bold statement of intent, then the release of their Gang Called Speed EP was the hyperkinetic follow-through.
Across six monstrous tracks, the Sydney juggernaut put respect on their city and the rest of the world on notice. “Not That Nice” takes aim at racists and squares up over divebomb riffs and deafening gang-chants, standing toe-to-toe with some of NYHC’s finest. “Move” finds frontman Jem barking about personal struggle and devotion, an empowering message sealed with raised fists over a stupid heavy breakdown.” (No Echo)