Top 5 EPs of 2012 (sorta)

1. Sebadoh - Secret Sebadoh never rests on their laurels. The kings of indie rock have created another album of astonishing depth in just the span of five songs. "Keep the Boy Alive" is a Lou Barlow paen to growing old and retaining one's love. "My Drugs" is a Loewenstein rocker about needing drugs: the line "can't hang with sober people they scare the shit right out of me" says it all. "Arbitrary High" recalls "Skull," sounding like a Bakesale outtake. "I Don't Mind" is a country weeper that might have found a nice place on the new Dinosaur Jr. record, yet easily trumps anything on that underwhelming platter. Loewenstein remains the hidden secret in Sebadoh, writing understated songs that often overshadow Barlow's more obvious offerings. Barlow's "All Kinds" is a short, sweet coda to a great, but all to short EP. I'm looking forward to a new full-length.

2. Nato Coles & The Blue Diamond Band -- "Play Loud" b/w "Running From the Law"  Nato Coles and the boys hail from the cold Twin Cities and Midwestern rock 'n' roll burns in their veins. They channel a little bit of the Boss, some Bob Mould, and maybe a little Replacements with catchy pop hooks and sugary lead guitar. Nato's vocals are clear and clean and the lyrics are about all forms of rocking, namedropping bands, popular hangouts, etc. Rock 'n' roll this catchy and contagious should receive more notice. Side note: If you ever get to see them live, do so at any cost. They put on one of the best shows I have seen this year. Side note 2: This actually came out in 2010, but I got it this year, so I am cheating. 

Listen here:

3. The District Attorneys - Jr. The District Attorneys are from Atlanta but play an Americana that seems rooted in the sunny sounds of California. Think less Laurel Canyon and more Beach Boys. While earlier records used punk touchstones as a starting point, Jr. relies on catchy pop hooks more akin to the Figgs. A sun soaked sheen permeates the entire record that recalls a lost 60's vibe. Yet the guitars are more modern; rock arpeggios intertwine with woos, especially on the sunny "King is Boss." "Target Practice" is an understated reply, bouncing along like the best summer dream. The District Attorneys have not been around very long, but have released an album, single, and EP this year. All are very different, yet very worth it.

Get them here:

4. Eric Burdon and the Greenhornes -The Greenhornes have been in numerous projects, including the Raconteurs with Jack White and Brendan Benson, but their collaboration/team-up with Eric Burdon is truly special, not unlike Roky Erickson's collaboration with Okkervil River. Each party brings something out of the other that was unforeseen. Burdon's voice is deeper and leaner, especially on "Black Dog;" he reminds me a little bit of Captain Beefheart as he growls, sounding for all the world like a hellhound screaming from the pits of hell. The Greenhornes provide a bluesy backdrop as the song rumbles along. "Out of my Mind" is also a bluesy trip; often hearkening back to the Animal's forays into blues territory, but most often reminding me of "House of the Rising Sun." (Sorry.) "Can You Win" sounds like early Black Keys with an old bluesman fronting. The last track, "Cab Driver" slips a bit. The racist overtones are slightly sad and it sounds for all the world like an awful attempt at Gogol Bordello. Despite this small gaffe, an exceptional EP, but I wonder if a full-length would have anything left to prove.

5. Two Cow Garage - "Geri" b/w "Shaking an Accent"  A two song effort for the Black Friday edition of Record Store Day is a quick definite one-two punch from TCG. Poppier than usual, but bitter, this is a great little record for repelling the relatives. Channeling all the best bits of sloppy Replacements vibes and cowpunk shitkicking, this propulsive blast of vinyl is not long enough. "Geri" is another song about a girl, with copious pop culture references, as the narrator hangs out talking about the Stones into the wee hours. "Shaking an Accent" is no less subdued despite its acoustic backing. Replete with sha-la-las and religious references, this is another one about lost connections.


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