As a matter of personal opinion, I think year-end lists should distinguish between LPs and EPs. After all, EPs are treated differently by pretty much everyone: artists, consumers and critics. Indeed, most EPs offer very different experiences from full length records. Musicians, for example, have historically chose to use EPs as a way to release material that is more experimental than their usual music. EPs have also been used to collect and release material that just didn’t fit with the mood/theme/concept of the album they were originally recorded for.
Fans and critics tend to treat EPs differently too. For example, if you ask most fans or critics to list off Radiohead or The National’s best albums – most won’t think to include Radiohead’s Airbag / How Am I Driving? EP or The National’s Cherry Tree EP even though both EPs include some of those bands best tracks.
And in 2010 the EP has reached new levels of popularity with the music consuming public (and therefore greater importance in a band’s discography). Many bands in 2010 discovered that releasing a free EP on bandcamp was the quickest way to connect with listeners and build a fan base. This was certainly true for a number of bands on this list, and the result is that some of 2010′s best – most exciting – new music was released by musicians who were willing to give away 5-6 songs if it meant connecting with fans and making a name for themselves. And as the CD slowly dies away, you can expect the popularity of the EP format to continue to rise. Even Thom Yorke from Radiohead has repeatedly suggested that Radiohead has considered foregoing the album format in the future to focus instead on singles and EPs. So it is likely that we will continue to see more EPs in the future – and maybe even at the expense of the LP. And as you can tell from the list below, this doesn’t mean we’ll get less good music. In fact, it may mean more great new music.
8. Twin Sister – Color Your Life EP :: Twin Sister – All Around and Away We Go
11. Lord Huron – Mighty EP :: Lord Huron – Mighty
14. Seams – Tourist :: Seams – Hung Markets
15. Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People EP :: Sufjan Stevens – Heirloom
18. Kurt Vile – Square Shells EP :: Kurt Vile – Invisibility: Nonexistent
20. Mean Lady – Kid Friendly EP :: Mean Lady – Lonely