We’ve covered new artists, Australian artists and best videos but the fourth instalment of our 2014 Scene Awards brings us to that little thing we love to love, the EP. A teeny glimpse of an artist’s work, the EP is such a tease, offering so much and only making us want more from some of our favourites. With so many favourites, it was hard to keep this list down to four. Don't ask us how, but we managed to. There may have been some office brawls over it, but we're not supposed to talk about our secret fight club. Oh no... we've said too much. Here's our fave EP's of the year!
EP OF THE YEAR:
#4. Naked by HOWQUA
When I saw Howqua supporting Little May at their sold out show at the Black Bear earlier this month, I was standing quietly at the side of stage, watching a man perform with his entire heart and soul to a half empty room and a whole bunch of people trying to purchase their boutique beer and beverages at the bar. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good boutique beer as much as the next person, but there was absolutely no way I could take my eyes and ears off the stage when this man was standing on it. When his set finished, I couldn’t wait to get to the merch table at the back, because there was no way I was going to let him leave without letting me purchase what has become a constant in my life and my last late year contender for our EP of the Year Award.
The things he bought to the stage that night are exactly the things that I walked away with in that tiny cardboard package; simple stories of heartbreak and courage, yearnings and fears all wrapped up in soothing synths and driving beats and emotional guitars and maybe most importantly that voice, that unbelievably powerful, spine tingling voice of his which evokes emotions and picks apart a teeny part of my heart every time he sings those lyrics; “waiting for the sun to rise, waiting for the sun to set, waiting for the sun to rise again…” They are a representation of the whole EP, so true and so simple. Sometimes it seems the simplest things are the most affecting and Howqua has managed to turn the simplest of emotions into song and create an EP that will hang around as one of my favourites jot just for this year, but for a long time yet. (Jo Michelmore)
#3. is it right? by Our Man In Berlin
If you’d told me 18 months ago when I first welcomed Our Man In Berlin into my beloved music collection that I’d be writing about their EP at the end of 2014, I may not have believed you. Not because I doubted whether I’d still like them, I just don’t believe in fortune tellers and all that crap. What I do believe is that when a band is this good, that talent should be celebrated and hence when Matt and I were discussing the best EP’s of the year, this was the first one that popped into my mind.
From the urgent beats throughout to their awesome ability to balance light and dark simultaneously in each song, from the charmingly addictive sounds of Justin Martin’s keyboard skills and the enchanting sounds that Trevor Shotam manages to pull out of a guitar, to that spine tingling and incredible voice of Haydn Mansell’s, is it right? showcases the talent of five guys so early in their career already willing to experiment with sound, test their boundaries as musicians and take their listeners on an intensely enjoyable journey with them. It’s a journey I look forward to continuing through 2015, with new songs already being written and recorded. Maybe I should start believing and get that fortune teller to let me know when I get to hear them, because I can’t wait. (Jo Michelmore)
Runner-Up: Little May by Little May
Little May are no strangers to these here Scene Awards. Why, just yesterday they took out the Australian Artist of the Year award! A big part of that win can be attributed to their knockout debut EP, Little May. We knew it was going to be one of our favourites from the moment it was announced. After all, in 2013 we heard the EP songs ‘Boardwalks’ and ‘Hide’ and with those two on the track list it was already a winner. ‘Boardwalks’ was almost the yin to the yang of ‘Hide’. Bittersweet regret followed by a darker betrayal. Each as commanding of your attention as the other and wonderfully showing how Little May’s Liz Drummond, Hannah Field and Annie Hamilton can easily hold influence over your emotions. You get to take a ride on the emotional rollercoaster throughout all of Little May.
You can fall apart to the smart and sublime pop number that is ‘Bones’, cherish the happy memories of days gone by on ‘Dust’ and understand why Little May’s music has been labelled ghost folk on the haunting ‘Midnight Hour’. These five songs that make up the Little May EP flow seamlessly and expertly, each showing a new side of this talented trio. We called Little May the next great storytellers in music and when you listen to these tracks you’ll understand why. It’s like you’re sitting in a living room with the band while they talk to you about the ups and downs of life. It’s awesome. And it leaves me, as always, more than just a little excited about what’s to come from Little May. The internets say a debut album is expected in 2015. Just a little something to make you even more willing to embrace the new year. Until then though, we’ve got the Little May EP to listen to over and over until we meet Little May again. Please don't stay away too long. (Matt Bond)
WINNER: Monsters by Thelma Plum
Oh hey there, two time EP of the Year winner Thelma Plum. She took top honours last year with Rosie and decided that once is never enough, so 2014 saw the release of Monsters and here we are again. EP of the Year. What? We’re allowed to think the only reason Thelma released an EP this year was so she could win another highly prestigious Scene Award. Just like last year, we never got around to doing up a proper review at the time of release. To be fair, I was in Europe and started to write one up on a bus, but I kept listening to ‘Candle’ and at the time I was really hating on a certain someone and the essence of the review was people are the worst and whoever hurt Thelma to have her writing a song like ‘Candle’ is the worst and there was a lot of rage so it’s probably best that didn’t become a thing.
What is good, is that Monsters became a ‘thing’. Not so much a ‘thing’ as a stunning piece of work once more from Thelma, we saw her step out of her acoustic comfort zone and embrace some highly fashionable electronic touches, with the production assistance of M-Phazes. She may or may not have stalked him until he worked with her. The lesson here is that stalking pays off, because Plum’s new venture more than delivered. The production sets Monsters apart from Rosie and gives it an identity unique to what we know Plum is able to do musically. But all of the trademarks you’d want from her music remain and thankfully so. Striking vocals that while sweet, pack a disarmingly effective emotional punch. Painfully honest lyrics you can’t help but relate to. And then there’s that ‘fuck you’ attitude we’ve come to love, but this time without actually busting out some swears. A Thelma Plum EP with not a ‘fuck’ in sight? Doesn’t mean that attitude isn’t there.
There’s the moments of heartache and heartbreak (‘Monsters’ and ‘Candle’), a gorgeous reminder of the past (‘Young In Love’) and an unexpected, Tarantino-esque party starter (‘How Much Does Your Love Cost’). The last song mentioned made it to #2 on our Top 114 Songs of 2014 countdown. Because it’s la-di-da-di-fucking amazing. There’s just something about Thelma Plum that makes me swear like a sailor. Thelma Plum did it again in 2014. Since there’s whispers of a debut LP for 2015, it looks like we’ll be seeing her graduate from this category to the Album of the Year one very soon. Artists to watch in 2015? Make sure Thelma Plum is on that list. And if you haven’t already, go get this EP. (Matt Bond)
Rosie EP by Thelma Plum
Runner-Up: The Love Club EP by Lorde
Told You So by Cub
Runner-Up: Love Lost In Design EP by Neon Wolf