the ep is a beloved format here at the dimestore, the perfect stop-gap for artists in between full-length projects and an extended offering for those just beginning to imprint their dna in music’s genome. the five selections from 2015 skew largely towards the latter; dive into our picks below.
you’d be hard-pressed to find a duo that had more flat-out fun in 2015 than diet cig. the new paltz two-piece offered up their debut ep, over easy, early this year, a compact five-song venture into jubilant power chords and flippant observations about the waning moments of teenagedom. diet cig may market themselves as slop-pop, but there’s nothing sloppy about alex luciano’s underlying wit, or how she accosts small-town narcissism on “scene sick” and gloriously howls “fuck your ivy league sweater” at the climax of “harvard.” more of this in 2016, please.
the japanese house – pools to bathe in
a co-sign from the 1975 certainly helped amplify exposure, but amber bain would have snuck into the internet’s collective awareness regardless. her work as the japanese house thus far is affecting, a haunting palette of minimalist textures wrapped around bain’s penchant for stacking brooding vocals. although her second ep of 2015, clean, already showcased bain expanding her horizons, pools to bathe in feels like definitive japanese house, from the warped acoustic guitar foundation of the ep’s title track to the chilling narrative of an alter-ego on “sister.” in an era when pristine, layered production is as coveted as ever, the japanese house serves as an acute example of how to subvert that practice’s outcome and obtain an incredibly intimate final product.
cascine is our reigning label of the year in part because they regularly brought exceptional acts like morly to the forefront of our inbox. on in defense of my muse, katy morley harnesses the dexterity and beautiful simplicity of fragmented piano melodies and weaves them through sparse electronic soundscapes, resulting in a body of work that can be just as euphoric as it is ominous. case in point: “and sooner than we know it…” briefly emerges from an eerie choral haze to indulge in a subdued dancehall catharsis, but the surrounding tracks ascertain that morly is ultimately a project of introspection, not delayed hedonism.
sayth & north house – body pillow
eric wells and alex tronson held down the art of the short-form record for the wisconsin/minnesota border in 2015. on body pillow, tronson’s moody amalgamation of trap beats and polychrome textures coaxes out some of sayth’s densest lyrical material yet, from sharp commentary on the perpetual state of limbo felt by twenty-somethings to heart-rending, vivid navigations of fleeting romance. body pillow also aligns many of the salient members of wells’ burgeoning collective, lowkey radical; wealthy relative creams the ep’s sole guest verse on “a formal apology to grandma wells” while baby blanket made his inaugural appearance on the hook of “maybe god is afraid of us?” but some of the finest moments happen without any outside help. closing number “pink pistols” pads lush synth swells and stuttering drums around an ode to sayth’s entire contingent, which compounds rapidly and builds towards the ep’s final, visceral couplet: “macklemore made a million off of gay rights / thanks bro, this is actually my real life.”
being spread across the globe doesn’t seem to hinder yumi zouma; if anything, the quartet thrives off of displacement. our reigning best new artists turned in their much-anticipated second ep mere months after receiving the accolade, one that showcases a more intricate understanding of how to intertwine soaring hooks and intimate textures. “alena” and “catastrophe” are both baleric anthems, indulging in their respective melodies to craft compositions that feel like extroverted extensions of the subdued persona yumi zouma initially embodied, but they’re necessary foils if the desired end-result is “song for zoe & gwen,” the universal missing component from every 1980s soundtrack that finally pairs the band’s nostalgic sonic palette with thematics of the same stature.