Adventures In 2012: Top 10 EP's & Mixtapes

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The challenge to impress on so few tracks is the plight of the short "album". But I stand by what I said last year as over the years, EP's and mixtapes have proven their usage to artists of all walks and at all stages as being a painless, somewhat cheaper, and simpler way to promote ones work --- even if it is for the first time. EP's and mixtapes are great appetizers for the main courses to come, and at times they fill us up just fine even when it is for a brief moment. This year that tradition of the 21st century quicker picker-upper continued as more of these mini-albums graced my music library, introducing me to new talents and new reinventions of artists I've been keeping tabs on for some time. Though it is a task to assemble a list of just ten mini gems as more pour in on the daily, it had to be wrapped up and done...and so, here they are, my 10 favorite EP's and mixtapes of 2012.

10. Sunday's Best - Bago
Relative to the astral steeze of a Cali girl, Bago's "Dr. Lock" is the undisputed truth. A freshly carved mood piece that coasts along dreamily, and does its duty as the anchor piece of the singer's Sunday's Best mixtape. On Best, Bago twists and gnaws at our brains with experimental soundscapes and familiar hip-soul crevasses. With rapper Alexander Spit at the producing helm, the two create an aural labyrinth that proves hard to classify, but still fun to partake in. While "Dr. Lock" is the more accessible, even cheeriest, of the bunch, when you hear the Amy Winehouse-esque drawl of "Bad On The Bottle" or fussy fit of "Bath Salts", you're sold (and pleased) on the fact that Bago doesn't do the whole carbon copy cat thing. [Stream/Download] [Review]

9. Phoneline - Funkineven & Fatima
Pop this in and you might think you sat your rump in a time machine with a fistful of glowsticks in hand. Well, that rump will be shaking and the glowsticks a-twirling as you take this "like totally bitchin'"ride with rapper/producer Funkineven and singer Fatima into electronic boogie town with nods to the Freestyle movement ("West To East") and to the decade of crunchy n' smooth R&B ("90's"). Least we not forget the skittish funk exercise of main attraction "Phoneline" which does an expert job of blending cheeky lyrical flows and melodic soulful refrains. Oh so cool. [Stream/Download]

8. You Know You Like It - AlunaGeorge 
Many a boy/girl duo frothed up to the foamy surfaces of 2012, but so few were possessed a success story like AlunaGeorge. With the rocket in the pocket that is "Just A Touch", the duo brought back the sense of old-school R&B with all the rhythm --- and without all the bullshit. Determined not to be that sudden flash in a pan, throughout the year the two steadily released songs that pretty much overshadowed this particular EP with some of the major game changing cuts they released. Still, with such an engulfing introduction, all we're thinking now is --- when is the full length coming out? [Stream/Download]
7. Patchwork - Szjerdene
Elegantly defined and aptly titled, Patchwork gives Szjerdene four engulfing moments to project the different genre faucets she so seamlessly can slip into. From abstract soul crawls to pensive ballads, Patchwork's sparse essence is harbored in sophistication proving that when treading lightly, a little goes a long way. Still out of the four, the gorgeous "Blue Lullaby" (which opens the set) is the definitive moment, as it glides in and lingers long after. [Stream/Download] [Review]
6. Seeing Her Naked - Mar
Multi-talented Mar breaks away from his usual crew (Full Crate and FS Green) and concocts a sultry set that gives male R&B a backbone that has long since gone to mush. Though this year it was of trend to be as bleak and as dramatically emotional (aka "whiny") as possible, Mar doesn't follow that lead as he puts heart and soul into the five sensual tapestries he weaves here, bringing to mind the sexy n' simple approach that so many of his peers are lacking. [Stream/Download] [Review]
5. Amori Infinity - Lucille Ghatti
With music that is meant for puffin' and passin', a relaxing time is had by all when newcomer Lucille Ghatti extends her Amori Infinity mixtape. Ghatti did extra credit this year with the equally alluring High Grade mixtape and its sequel, but with Amori Infinity she lays out a dreamscape of experimental hip-hop and sultry R&B tuneage that makes her a true scholar in Aaliyah-isms. When you hear "Behind The Moonbeam", "Stay With Me" and her tribute to J. Dilla's legacy, you'll know she graduated magna cum lade. [Stream/Download] [Review]
4. Sideways - Lauren Desberg
...and to slightly quote myself: Lauren Desberg is for those who like their jazz straight-up, no chaser, but all class act, and with that kind of persona and with her debut EP, Sideways, undetected she won't be for long. The tenacity of this Berklee grad emerges with her superb reading of the Amy Winehouse and Grover Washington Jr. hybrid, "Mister Magic". Singer Gretchen Parlato even joined in on the fun by producing this set as well as sprinkled her own magic as the two duet on the classic, "You Go To My Head". [Stream/Download] [Review]
3. The Face - Disclosure
Prior to the masterwork that is "Latch", the Brits known as Disclosure stitched together a quartet of sweeping sonic soul numbers that seemed pegged for the dance floor, but chill enough to lounge out to. With guest spots from Ria Ritchie ("Control") and Sinead Hartnett ("Boiling"), whom are relative unknowns who rise to the occasion on their prospective numbers, the hot House n' Electronica backdrop the production duo provide shimmers and shakes besting all competition and give us a finely-crafted first introduction. [Stream/Download]
2. X/Coke - Cheri Coke & MeLo-X
The artist formerly known as Cheri Dennis rechristened herself as Cheri Coke and traipses through a thick mist of moody rhythm n' blues with producer MeLo-X as her companion. Ecstasy and heartbreak wistfully are recounted through seven tempting compositions, with highlights being "The Interlude", their eerie reading of Portishead's classic, "Sour Times", and the climbing Deep House exalt of "Free".
[Stream/Download] [Review]
1. True - Solange
Obviously. The Richter Scale couldn't have handled all the quaking and plate tectonic shifting that Solange did this year. Aside from her fashionista venture, 2012 is all about Solange finally nestling into a niche that she has long since been seeking. Detaching herself from her well-known surname and taking the roads less traveled while in turn bringing indie rock and R&B into harmonious matrimony, Solange refashioned herself as an artist of her own ilk and creativity. The introduction of Solange's next phase began with the excellent "Losing You", but you have to stay for the party that Solange and producer Dev Hynes throw as bass licks, love-lorn lyrics, and 80's New Wave revival sounds keep this infectious EP at an extreme and delicate vibrancy.

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