First off–I do not claim responsibility for any medical costs or the like for anyone that actually eats an EP.
I used to be of the opinion that a short album (EP (extended play)) could never compare to a long album (LP (long play)), and that opinion was based on the very American point of view that bigger is always better. Well, I let that stance wither away over a decade ago when I began to understand that an EP can be just as moving and powerful as a great full-length album, and more often than not, better.
Please forgive the lack of variety in musical genres for this entry. It happens sometimes.
Alkaline Trio: I Lied My Face Off. This is arguably the best Alkaline Trio release ever. I began to lose interest in them about the time From Here to Infirmary came out, and abandoned them all together shortly after I was done laughing at how awful Crimson was. But this one came out before all that; these four songs are still among my favorites. If there was a top 10 list for best Trio songs, these four would all be in the top five or six. The drums during the outro of “Goodbye Forever” still floor me. “Bleeder” has this build over the course of the song that you don’t notice at first, but leaves you charged by the time it’s over. The tone of voice in Dan Adriano’s two songs says, “I’m done being sad, now I’m getting angry.” Honesty met a polished skill level when this EP was recorded, and sadly the Trio never matched its caliber again.
Dashboard Confessional: So Impossible EP. This is the only Dashboard release that I can still stomach any time, anywhere, and it’s with good reason. So Impossible is actually a mini-concept album. It tells the story of a guy and a girl who take interest in each other and end up getting together at a party which they attend with their friends, all told from the guy’s perspective. It’s the standard Chris Carabba fare, but it works–even if the guy character could stand to man up a little and just ask the freakin’ girl out (that line in “Remember to Breathe” when he’s nervous about the evening and says, “remember she asked you;” ugh, pansy). All four songs are top-notch acoustic numbers with Carabba taking the lead, and has former Sunny Day Real Estate guitarist Dan Hoerner doing (what sounds like) improvised backing parts. Many would probably run to “Hands Down” as the stand-out track on this masterpiece, which is fair, but I would argue that “For You to Notice” is unquestionably superior with the soft string introduction and the powerful chorus. The electric version of “Hands Down” smashes this version, anyway (though I might feel that way because I knew this version first).
Ladd Mitchell: A Times Beach Crush Factor. Okay, so I’ve never been sure if “A Times Beach Crush Factor” is both the name of the EP and Mitchell’s solo project, or if it’s just the EP. Maybe it’s more abstract than that; maybe the solo project IS the EP, therefore they are one and the same. I dunno. I do know I love these five songs. “Colorful” is the best way to describe the guitar work here, I think. Park (Mitchell’s then-and-now-former band) didn’t get big enough for him to receive a lot of widespread celebration as a guitarist, but I’m telling you the guy has skills. Overall, the music has a kind of folky feel, rather than an acoustic rock feel . . . but even that’s not getting it exact. The lyrics are typical songs about breakups and such, except really depressing and dark. I would hold this EP up to the same level as any of the three major Park releases, and if you know how much I love Park, that’s saying something.
Moving Mountains: Foreword. This is the most recent example of an EP topping the artist’s full-length from my collection. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this is short. It may be just four songs, but it’s just under 40 minutes long. Each song here is an epic journey, traveling in and out of a range of emotions. You will get that from the very beginning with ambiance that the guitars bring to the title track opener. When the heavier stuff starts, the feel of the song seems to slip just a little bit, but it’s quickly recovered as the drums head into a steady roll and a guitar takes over on 32nd notes over smooth cellos and a syncopated rhythm. Every note over every note builds anticipation that something more is on its way as the vocalists begin a simple duel, then back off into a pre-chorus right before they break out into the full power of the song. When that’s done, they slow down, but they’re far from done. You’re five minutes in to a nearly 10-minute-long song. The entire EP feels like this. It’s the kind of experience that I have found hard to keep out of my ears since seeing these guys late last year. And don’t even get me started on the half-way point of the second track. My mind is blown every time I hear it. Their full-length, Pneuma, is phenomenal, but it doesn’t come close to what this EP achieves. I’m not completely sure, because I keep finding contradictory stories, but I think this is the most recent of these, their only two, releases. Time will tell if this is their peak or the start of their upward climb; I have high hopes.
Hey Mercedes: Hey Mercedes EP. First of all, let me say that I get really ticked off when people write off Hey Mercedes as “that band that Braid did that wasn’t as good.” Granted–I must admit that Braid was much more dynamic and innovative, but this EP alone demonstrates that Hey Mercedes was not “forgettable,” as one guy in some Seattle weekly crap paper said like eight months ago. The thing with Hey Mercedes, though, is that each of their releases were slightly less good than the previous. This was their first, and they’re unquestionably their four best songs. Their first full-length, Every Night Fire Works, would have been a good candidate for my “Albums that Took Me a While” post, and while it’s great, none of the songs were better than these four. I don’t count The Weekend EP because it wasn’t all new material (except their cover of When In Rome’s “The Promise” is off the charts; it’s always upset me that it’s buried behind 8 minutes of silence, because I would have that song all OVER some mix CDs). Their final release, Loses Control, was a couple notches below Every Night Fire Works, and even though the opener “Quality Revenge at Last” still knocks me flat, I’d call it their fifth best song.