Three high-quality EPs to check out:
Sofa City Sweetheart-Sofa City Sweetheart. Sofa City Sweetheart is LA's J. Lopez, and his self-titled debut EP is a melodic marvel. The sound here is reminiscent of John Lennon, Elliott Smith, Jon Brion and independent poppers like Plasticsoul and Adrian Whitehead. "Good News for Jackie" is right out of the Brion playbook, and "Maria" is pure pop bliss with a bridge that sends the song to another level. "Julia (We Never Wanted You)" sounds like Elliott Smith in his Beatles phase (think "Baby Britain", and the breezy melody of "Sunflowers" begs for the whistling break about 2/3 of the way through. "The Magic Umbrella" completes the EP with its own magical mystery tour of sounds. Look for this one high up the year-end EP list.
CD Baby | MySpace | Listen at iLike
Justin Kline-Six Songs. Back in 2006, a group called The Heartstring Band put out a quality EP titled Aurora Songs Vol. 1, which to my surprise upon looking back at this site's archives was never mentioned here. I'll correct that oversight now, and note that the frontman of that band was Justin Kline, who now has an EP of his own out, and it's a leap forward for him. This is one of those EPs that jumps out of your speakers and grabs you by the lapels (or shirt collar) - as soon as you hear the chorus of "All I Need", you know you're in for a ride full of pop goodness. "Heart Attack" brings Roger Joseph Manning Jr. to mind (Kline has a somewhat similar voice), and "How I Became The Wind" recalls Manning's band (Jellyfish) as well as the aforementioned Adrian Whitehead. The influence of Jeff Lynne is at work in "Kaledioscope", while "Singing in the Air" and "Sunshine" close things out with more flawless power pop. An outstanding solo debut.
"Heart Attack" mp3 | MySpace | Listen at Lala
Paul Spencer & The Maxines-Either Sunset or Sunrise. Rounding out our trip of primo EPs is another artist that I've been remiss to mention on this site: Paul Spencer & The Maxines. They've put out a couple of no-nonsense, hard-poppin' garagey discs, most notably last year's Cut The Jive. Here they take a sonic left turn as the EP is largely acoustic and Americana-influenced. One of the bands they've been compared is to the Replacements, and they compare opener "Whatever Forever and Ever" to the Mats' "Answering Machine". It does have that same acoustic-punk quality to it, while "Sunny Town for Shady People" has a Tex-Mex feel to the proceedings. "Clara Bow" is a real stunner - an ode to a 1920s silent film star complete with a tasteful string section. Spencer breaks out the Rickenbacker on "Hurry Up & Wait", a Latin-tinged number, and the EP closes with "The Man With The 30 Second Memory" a 1:16 ditty that leaves you wanting more.
CD Baby | MySpace