Friday, September 11, 2009

extended play

I like EPs. Usually for one of two reasons:

1.) It's the signaling of a forthcoming full-length album;

2.) They contain extra tracks that didn't make the cut for the most recently released album, or the songs are recorded for the sole purpose of releasing an EP; either way it means I don't have to wait another year or two for new tunes.

Here are some Extended Plays I've been enjoying as of late:

The Open Door by Death Cab For Cutie, 2009

First of all, how great is this cover? It explains the EP quite well: the repeating tale of some non-committal dude whose open door is nothing more than the stairs to the attic apartment at his mom's place.

I purchased this EP via iTunes when it was released in April; iTunes is usually against everything I stand for (like the fact that you never really 'own' the music and you're stuck with a digital-only copy when the physical copy is only a couple dollars more), but I really wanted to hear it (it was released digitally a week prior to being released physically) and it came with a download of the "Grapevine Fires" video. Like most digitally procured music, I listened to it once or twice then listened to it a track at a time as it came up on my shuffled iPod (see this post here for my feelings on digital music). I enjoyed it but I never really got into it.

Then I saw D Cab in concert last July. The two tracks they played from this EP, "Little Bribes" and "A Diamond and A Tether", stood out a bit sharper than the rest. So I gave it another spin (though not literally because I was still listening on my iPod) and found a set of the most relatable songs since Pinkerton (which is probably the biggest compliment I can give to a piece of music). Gibbard's metaphors are spot-on, per usual, and as modernly eloquent as ever.

Stay On My Side Tonight by Jimmy Eat World, 2005

The parental advisory on this EP is kinda silly; Jim drops the f-bomb on the song "Half Right", which is an Elliott Smith cover, I believe. It's not even a JEW song. Other than that it's as clean as anything.

This guy was released about a year after their album Futures so the production is pretty similar and the songs are of the same quality, they're just a bit darker. Well, "Disintegration" is more than 'a bit' darker. Such a legit track though. It's almost eight minutes long and the song gains more layers as it progresses. Some of the hardest drumming I've heard on a JEW song. "Over" was recorded as a demo for Clarity and for Futures as well but found its home on this EP. "Closer," another Futures demo, is also awesome and rocks a bit harder here than the demo version. Jimmy Eat World can do no wrong.

Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell by The Flaming Lips, 2003

Speaking of doing no wrong, how about them Flaming Lips? This seven track gem is follow up to their 2002 hit album Yoshimi Battles and features four non-album tracks and three remixes, two of "Ego Tripping" and one of "Do You Realize??" My favorites are "Sunship Balloons" and "A Change At Christmas" (Wayne sings uncharacteristically low on this one). Again, it's hard to go wrong with these guys.

Jimmy Eat World by Jimmy Eat World, 1998

OK, I haven't really been listening to this one that much lately but it was the first EP I owned so I figured it was worth including. I picked it up on vinyl for a pretty good price about a year ago, which is awesome because it's out of print, as is the CD format.

The Oz EP by Weezer, 1996

This came out before I really knew what an EP was, in the days when what could be considered an EP was still being called a 'single'. So I always referred to this as The Good Life Single. There's something elusive and highly nostalgic about this EP that I just can't explain. Something about the cover. And something about the awesome synth melodies on "Waiting on You" and "I Just Through Out the Love of My Dreams". There's just something about these songs that are subtly different than other Weezer tracks. Sure, IJTOTLOMD is sung by a girl, but that difference is far from subtle and it's not what I'm talking about. Anyway, these are some of my all-time favorite Weezer songs.


  1. The Open Door isn't just a good EP, its one of the best pieces of music I've heard in 2009. I will always love Death Cab. I will never understand why people hate on them. They have just gotten better. Narrow Stairs is such a great progression from Plans and Plans from Transatlanticism. They only get better.

  2. I heartily concur with you Zach. I want to say that The Open Door is one of the best things they've released but you can say that about each of their albums.

  3. I got The Open Door EP and love it! I love it, just like I love all The Death Cab cds. Ben Gibbard is probaly one of the most intelligent musicians in todays music. I love the ukeleili version of "Talking Bird". All Arounds Death Cab For Cutie knows how to put out A+ music