Exclaim!'s 25 Best EPs of 2020
Published Dec 10, 2020The events of 2020 took a sledgehammer to our already fried attention spans, but these EPs helped put our brittle brains back together with their short bursts of passion and catharsis. Whether outtakes from previously released albums, samplers of rising talent or even a long-dormant masterpiece from dearly departed Montreal dance-punks, these are the best EPs of 2020.
With DIOBU, ASUQUOMO demonstrates a greater musicality taking listeners in Ottawa and beyond to his titular Nigerian neighbourhood. Sounds spanning Afrofusion, soul, pop and rock underscore his impactful pen: "I'm proud of my growth and pace / I've got peace of mind by His grace / I do whatever it takes."
Bring Me the Horizon
Post Human: Survival Horror
Bring Me the Horizon announced this EP a mere two weeks before release, but the real surprise was its sound. The metallic leanings and bonafide growls came as a shock after the pop-oriented amo, while most impressive is how it retains that release's knack for hooks and their overall mastery of rock. Now, we wait with bated breath for its three promised sequels.
How Else Can I Tell You?
Toronto-via-Edmonton soul-popster Cayley Thomas shows her warmth and curiosity on How Else Can I Tell You? Her delicate vocals pair angelically with the intertwining jangle and psych magnetism, resulting in an EP that sounds like the sonic equivalent of a mid-century antique store.
(Sounds of Crenshaw)
What do you get when you put saxophonist Kamasi Washington, pianist Robert Glasper, multi-instrumentalist Terrace Martin and producer 9th Wonder in a room? Dinner Party. Combining live instrumentation, jazz and R&B, Dinner Party is a plate of food you didn't know you needed but will have you fulfilled in mind, body and soul after the first bite.
Dirty Projectors frontman David Longstreth has been juggling lineups as of late, searching for a modern aesthetic that complements his unorthodox arrangements. One of five EPs released by the band in 2020, Flight Tower sees the project finding new success simply by allowing new vocalist Felicia Douglass' sleek and inventive vocals to boldly lead the way.
Composed of the songwriting core of deathcore titans Brand of Sacrifice, Earthshatter blew minds with their nu metalcore sound. The 1135 EP bounces like Emmure or Varials, with the soaring choruses of I Prevail, Wage War and Issues. Kyle Anderson's voice takes them to the stratosphere, in stark contrast to his aggressive bark or the demonic gutturals of his other project.
RAVE AND RUPTURE IN MUSIC AS DISASTER
Two years after their debut album, FRIGS returned with an explosive EP that was only available for 48 hours. RAVE AND RUPTURE IN MUSIC AS DISASTER expels the band's built up intensity, pulsating and thrashing with every push and pull. Salmena's stark vocal presentation unequivocally sets the tone and brings each track to life, bursting at the seams with new creativity.
Painting Words into Lines
(The Coming Strife)
Members of Rain of Salvation, Typecaste and SeeYouSpaceCowboy unveiled a project this year that sounded nothing like their heavyweight main hustles, instead continuing in the Long Island tradition of a melodic hybrid of hardcore, rock and emo. Painting Words into Lines brings to mind Long Island marvels Crime in Stereo and Taking Back Sunday, offering tangible reflections on lived experiences for 15 minutes of pure catharsis.
Morning and Melancholia
By now, it has been well documented how affecting Le Ren's Morning & Melancholia is. The powerful emotional response to these four folk songs is in part the result of Lauren Spear's sharp songwriting, which allows her to, at once, fill your heart with love and snap it in half.
On Drop 6, UK rapper Little Simz's sharp wit comes through pandemic poetry that flows over mellow, blue-hued beats. A lockdown-borne addition to her long-running Drop mixtape series, Drop 6 finds Little Simz contemplative, determined and focused, her voice of clarity and purpose as strong as ever.
Black Canadian traditional pop stars are few and far between, but newcomer Lu Kala is quickly becoming a frontrunner in that space. Her debut EP, Worthy, not only highlights her vocals but also makes sure that women of all shapes, sexualities and races feel worthy in both joy and heartbreak.