Exclaim!'s 25 Best EPs of 2020

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Dec 10, 2020

The 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."
Calum Slingerland

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.
Bradley Zorgdrager

Cayley Thomas
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. 
Sydney Brasil

Dinner Party
Dinner Party
(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.
Erin Lowers

Dirty Projectors
Flight Tower

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. 
Daniel Sylvester


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.
Bradley Zorgdrager


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.
Sarah Morrison

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.
Connor Atkinson

Le Ren
Morning and Melancholia
(Royal Mountain)

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.
Laura Stanley

Little Simz
Drop 6
(Age 101)

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.
Chris Bryson

Lu Kala

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. 
Erin Lowers

Martyn Bootyspoon
Lickety Split
(2 B Real)

Martyn Bootyspoon's Lickety Split is a reminder that at times, all you can do is laugh — especially in a world without clubs. From techno deadpans about your Amazon wish list to his coolness as the "Ice Cream Mane," humour makes the Montreal artist's groovy stylistic mélange all the more enjoyable.
Calum Slingerland

Moscow Apartment
Better Daughter
(Hidden Pony)

Soaring, soul piercing harmonies make Moscow Apartment feel like Canada's Phoebe Bridgers or Julien Baker. Better Daughter continues where their first EP left off, but there was no need for Brighid Fry and Pascale Padilla to reinvent any wheel just yet; this release is a calm before the storm that'll be their next project. And wouldn't you rather be prepared than catch that storm without notice? 
Corey Van Den Hoogenband

Black Plight

Written and recorded amidst the police brutality protests following George Floyd's murder, Black Plight hits very different notes than the brilliantly multifaceted BRAT, released mere weeks beforehand. Here, NNAMDÏ is defiant, focused and understandably angry, highlighting facets of his artistry that BRAT only hinted at.
Scott Simpson

Sick Hustle
(Dine Alone)

On Sick Hustle, Montreal four-piece NOBRO utilize full face-melting force to cement themselves as a tantalizing new face of punk in Canadian music. It's a knockout of an EP with confidently shouting vocals, guitar shredding, pounding drums, and bongo solos; the four short tracks hit like thunder and lightning only giving a taste of the band's cutting punk sound. But it's enough to intoxicate.
Matt Owczarz

Orville Peck
Show Pony

Orville Peck's still sad: Even after Pony's breakthrough success, the masked troubadour returns with six songs of broken-hearted, faded glory. Distilling the best minor-key moments of his debut, Show Pony is classic Peck. Even the Shania Twain duet offers reason to cry and a shoulder to do it on. 
Oliver Crook

박혜진 Park Hye Jin
How Can I
(Ninja Tune)

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, self-taught Korean producer 박혜진 Park Hye Jin declares "I'm gonna be fuckin' famous," and it's impossible not to believe her. Following her debut EP IF U WANT IT, this new release easily blends house, techno and footwork matched with bilingual lyrics and indelible hooks. Try not to dance.
Scott Simpson

Paul Chin
Full Spectrum
(The Nautilus Foundation)

Paul Chin's Full Spectrum is at once a celebration of composition and collaboration, signaling a new chapter in the Toronto-based polymath's career. Upon a jubilant string section rousing Chin's electronics to life, guests including Shad, pHoenix Pagliacci and Rebekah Hawker sound thoroughly at home in his colourful sonic palette.
Calum Slingerland

This Place Sucks Ass
(Little Dipper/Universal)

PUP's light-hearted attitude is part of their charm, but their commitment is apparent. A combination of technically strong songwriting and earnest expression results in the band's trademark sound —an angsty, anthemic amalgamation of punk, indie, and pop. This solid EP delivers six feel-good rippers about bad feelings that are a blast to rock out and relate to.
Lisa Sookraj

Sarah Davachi
Five Cadences

Released during a prolific year for Sarah Davachi, Five Cadences is full of ambient swatches that match our collective suspension with extended Mellotron tones and tape echo harmonies, but each one emphasizes a contained sense of resolution that often eludes drone's expansive form. Think meditation meets the transportive accessibility of postcards featuring lapping shores we can't visit.
Tom Beedham

(Secretly Canadian)

The M.O. of Apparition seems to be one of continuation: a slight tweaking of the formula that was effective on 2018's soil. Sorrowful vocals tinged with that distinctive falsetto coupled with stunning harmonies remain at the forefront, but new elements include a fortuitous creative collaboration with producer Wynne Bennett and a sense of hope.
Scott Simpson

(Secretly Canadian)

Despite her pseudonym, Los Angeles-based Helen Ballentine aims to devastate minds with her solemnly strummed acoustic guitar and palliative confessions rather than with pummeling death metal riffs. On her debut four-song EP, Skullcrusher's wallflower narratives and sweetly nuanced romantic aching are just as charmingly idyllic as they are crushingly potent.
Chris Gee

Soul Glo
Songs to Yeet at the Sun
(Secret Voice)

Soul Glo packs raw energy, lightning speed and radical lyrics into this five-song EP. Along with a penchant for blurring genre lines — a true rarity in hardcore — Songs to Yeet at the Sun finds the Philadelphia quartet injecting lifetimes of exploration into a scant 12 minutes.
Daniel Sylvester

Think About Life
Black Champagne

Think About Life were the best-kept musical secret of mid-aughts Montreal, and for those too late to the party, at least there is Black Champagne: the band's rediscovered, long lost, only-now-released EP from 2007, unleashed at last as part of a discography-wide reissue campaign. Listening to it is like finding a dusty bottle in a thrifted liquor cabinet: you sip with trepidation, your imagination starts, your whole body begins to buzz alight with memories of long-forgotten innocence. But the brand on the label's long dead; the recipe forgotten. Savour it while it lasts.
Joe Bagel

Zach Zoya
(7ieme Ciel)

Zach Zoya's long-anticipated solo debut came in the form of Spectrum. The top-tier production ranges from hard rap bangers to beautiful R&B tunes that sound that much better as part of a cohesive work. All said, Spectrum may very well be one of the strongest hip-hop/R&B projects to come out of Montreal. 
Jacob Carey

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