​Exclaim!'s Top 11 EPs of the Year

Best of 2018

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Dec 14, 2018

Now that we've given each genre that Exclaim! covers its Best of the Year due, we're turning our attention to a shorter but no less beloved musical release format. Behold below: Exclaim!'s Top 11 EPs of 2018.
Top 11 EPs of 2018:
11. Sedition
War Against All
(Walk a Mile)

Before the tired phrase "Ottawa is a boring government town" is able leave your mouth, Sedition's War Against All will have pummelled you into submission. The five-piece set the capital's fiercely dedicated hardcore community on fire this year with an EP that's both heavy as hell and politically pressing.
The effort's humorous bent shouldn't go unnoticed, either. Sedition engineer their snare tone to sound like "an aluminum baseball bat hitting an empty beer keg," enlist area rap mainstay Arreh Searag for a guest verse loaded with wit, and use mosh calls to goad: "You motherfuckers getting bullied at a pop-punk show? Come get bullied at a real show!"
Calum Slingerland
10. Jessie Reyez
Being Human in Public

Toronto's Jessie Reyez has yet to drop an album, but that doesn't bother her — "I'd like to get to the point I can say, 'It's album time,' and have gained or earned that musical respect," she told Exclaim! recently — and as long as she keeps making songs like those on her 2018 EP Being Human in Public, it won't bother us, either.
These pop R&B jams are stuffed to the gills with Reyez's huge personality: she's told she's strange but "works like a motherfucker" on opener "Saint Nobody," and brushes off a hesitant lover hilariously ("You ain't scared to fuck, but you scared of being lovers") on "F___ Being Friends." "This is the realest I've ever been," she says on her silver-tongued EP highlight "Dear Yessie" — and it's the best she's ever been, too. We might just take that album after all.
Stephen Carlick
9. Black Thought
Streams of Thought, Vol. 1

After more than two and a half decades of thrilling rap diehards with his bandmates in the Roots, Black Thought released his debut EP, Streams of Thought, Vol. 1, in 2018, at the age of 46. Throughout, he sounds like he's spent every moment of his long tenure with the legendary alt hip-hop crew waiting for a solo turn.
Indeed, nearly every bar on Streams contains lyrical multitudes. On "9th vs. Thought," he spits gems like: "… where the pantheon of the gods is, I promise… If lyricism is spiritual to you then rewind this." Aside from being a dope line, it also speaks to the greater truth of this fantastic EP: you'll want to all but break the rewind button to rehear Black Thought's exquisite lyricism.
Kyle Mullin
8. King Princess
Make My Bed

Co-signs from Mark Ronson and Harry Styles didn't hurt, but it's hard to imagine a world in which "1950," the debut single from King Princess, didn't blow up anyway. The immediacy of it all — the booming piano chords, the ever so slight guitar twang, the faint dubstep-inspired synth burbles and the suddenness with which the song starts — is perfectly designed to grab the listener's attention.
It's a hard song to live up to, but Make My Bed does beautifully. Second single "Talia" starts as a yearning, snap-propelled slow jam that turns into a stomping arena-sized anthem by the chorus, and "Upper West Side" is an arm-waving jam set to echoing drums that evoke Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks." It's an auspicious first release from an artist that's already making good on this debut EP's promise — her new single "Pussy Is God" is a huge, sample-heavy step forward.
Stephen Carlick
7. Moses Sumney
Black in Deep Red, 2014

UK singer Moses Sumney made a huge impression with last year's doleful LP Aromanticism, but with Black in Deep Red, 2014, he makes another almost as strong — and with just three songs.
The EP begins with a sample of activists singing that "the people have power," and builds its progressive message from there. "Call-to-Arms" is a weighty plucked guitar instrumental that leads into a saxophone climax, but it's "Rank & File," a jittery, Radiohead-recalling anthem, that anchors the proceedings here. Over a skipping beat, Sumney issues a lyrical reminder to those in power that regular citizens still have strength in numbers, ending the short release on a galvanizing note and bringing it full-circle at the same time.
Stephen Carlick
6. Hatchie
Sugar & Spice
(Double Double Whammy)

There were many magical things to discover about Brisbane, Australia's Hatchie, but perhaps the most fascinating thing to learn was that Sugar & Spice was originally done as a side project. Already a member of indie rockers Babaganouj, Harriette Pilbeam's solo effort exceeded any expectations upon release, leaving her as one of the year's brightest new acts. Hatchie's debut EP married ethereal dream pop and shoegaze textures with vivid melodies, posing a hypothetical question of "What if Max Martin produced a Cocteau Twins record?" Sugar & Spice gave us the answer: "The dreams of many would come true."
Cam Lindsay

5. Helena Deland
From the Series of Songs "Altogether Unaccompanied"

Montreal singer-songwriter Helena Deland didn't just impress with one EP this year — she did it with two. Spreading nine songs across four volumes of her "Altogether Unaccompanied" series, Deland used her breadth of styles to construct a whimsical musical atmosphere. With that sublime voice of hers forging the way forward, she ably skipped from feathery folk ("There Are a Thousand," "Rise") to slinky rock ("Perfect Weather for a Crime," "Lean on You") to brooding synth-pop ("Claudion," "Take It All"). No EPs had the hypnotic power that Helena Deland's had in 2018.
Cam Lindsay
4. Ouri
We Share Our Blood
(Make it Rain/Ghostly)        

After steadily releasing music over the past three years, Ouri finally broke out with her third EP, We Share Our Blood. The first release for her new global home of Ghostly International found the Montreal producer focusing on her vocals and developing them into a potent, euphoric instrument. This, added to the deep, pulsating synths and hulking bass lines brought, her sound to the next level on tracks like the post-dubsteppin' "Down" and "Escape," her fluttering, digital R&B bop. With We Share Our Blood, Ouri is graduating from the Montreal club scene's best-kept secret to this country's next big producer.
Cam Lindsay
3. Yuno
(Sub Pop)                          

From the bedroom of his parents' house in Jacksonville, Florida, Yuno conceived his debut release, a breakup record masking heartache as feel-good earworms. It may have been named after his surname, but Moodie also represented Yuno's condition: beaten by lost love and pouring his heart out through his music. Presented through a range of influences, Yuno takes us on a tour of his emotions through subdued hip-hop ("Fall in Love," "Galapagos"), Top 40-ready pop ("No Going Back"), beat-heavy screamo ("Why For") and Balearic vibes ("Amber," "So Slow"). Despite all the genre-hopping, Yuno got it done with the utmost concision, paving the way for an exciting future with no boundaries.
Cam Lindsay
2. Ellis
The Fuzz

Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to get the creative juices flowing. After moving from the bustling chaos of Toronto to the industrial chill of Hamilton, Linnea Siggelkow was able to give life to her musical project Ellis. Channelling a range of emotions amassed over the years from heartbreak, Siggelkow employed her soft, angelic voice and distorted guitar tones to build crushing waves of devastating dream pop. The Fuzz never relents in its mission to pile on the despair, yet it offers therapeutic relief in its relatability, making it one of the year's most beguiling releases.
Cam Lindsay
1. boygenius

Was there a more fully-formed and more talked about EP in 2018 than that of songwriters Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, aka boygenius? The six-song boygenius was so beloved that it spawned a full North American tour, and landed a place on our Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums list, onto which EPs typically aren't voted.
That said, boygenius's success is hardly surprising. The three collaborators are some of the most celebrated songwriters of the past few years, and the two songs that each of them wrote here are some of their best — "Stay Down," for example, is a churning, insistent Baker ballad.
It's the songs on which the three interact the most, though, that provide the EP's most spine-tingling moments: by the end of the Bridgers-penned "Me & My Dog," Baker and Dacus's voices are swirling around Bridgers' in a stirring harmonic climax, while "Ketchum, ID" ends in such perfect, Gospel-inspired three-part harmony that it borders on the divine. Here's hoping this new holy trinity returns with a long-player.
Stephen Carlick

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