The Best EPs of 2014 (So Far)

We've had an interesting batch of releases in 2014, haven't we? While the release of singles doesn't seem to die in this scene, the actual album-lengt

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Complex Original

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We've had an interesting batch of releases in 2014, haven't we? While the release of singles doesn't seem to die in this scene, the actual album-length releases feel to have been less-than-stellar in 2014, so far. The EP, a medium which allows artists to gather a smaller batch of tracks that might better compliment a set theme or sound than a two-track single or full length album, could be the choice for the future. It allows the artist to highlight why they're worth checking out, and let's fans get a solid grouping of tunes, without possible filler or unnecessary remixes. In 2014, we've been hit with some game-changers in the form of extended play releases, and for the first time in DAD history, we wanted to take a look at the EPs that have moved us... so far.

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Parkinson White & Kyle Cook - Sapphire EP

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Release Date: May 19, 2014

Label: Terrorhythm Recordings

Terrorhythm Recordings is on an absolute roll these days if you didn't already know. And if this duo of 17-year-olds in Parkinson White & Kyle Cook has anything to say about it, their collaborative EP Sapphire might be the crown jewel of all these recent stellar releases. Immaculate sound design from such young talent with a flair for the WOW on the creative expression. Jaw officially dropped.—Brent

LIZ - Just Like You

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Release Date: February 27, 2014
Label: Mad Decent

Two decades ago, Mad Decent chanteuse Liz would have been a featured performer on a volume of Jermaine Dupri's So So Def Bass All-Stars compilation. That compliment alone is ultimately the reason why her Just Like You EP works. 2014 has been the story of so many producers wanting to mimic the sounds of either Virginia Beach, Virginia or Atlanta, Georgia in or around 1995. If wanting to put a message in a bottle for the future, don't make it a SoundCloud link to a Lido track. Instead, put in the track "Y2K" itself which features the "it-boy" producer of the moment with the one female that does "it-girl" of the digital era oh so very well. Overall, these are seven tracks that paint the zeitgeist's lips in cherry Chapstick, then feed it two cups of lean and a blunt.—Marcus

20syl - Motifs EP

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Release Date: June 16, 2014
Label: On and on

Sometimes you hear a record and from the first couple seconds you just know it’s already an instant favorite. French artist and 1/4 of electronic and hip-hop- turntablist group C2C’s 20syl's Motifs is definitely one of those records for me. With five tracks of dreamy yet slimy and grimy beats lacing the entire 21-minute EP, 20syl has crafted a record that’ll grab you from the get go. The EP features both instrumental cuts and features from vocalists Oddissee, Rita J, and Ibrahim Maalouf but it’s how this project is cohesively put together in terms of sequence and sonic palates that makes it really work. Opening track “Kodama” opens with intricate instrumentation before morphing into a blinking beat of downtempo and hip-hop proportions. Mixed with a side of bass and head-bobbing action, the track sets the tone for the rest of the EP.—Jake

Astronomar - Mutant Club

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Release Date: May 6, 2014
Label: Main Course

Being one of the leaders of this Main Course domination we're currently under, expectations were pretty high for Astronomar's EP debut on his own label. Lucky for all you, he dropped his best EP to date with Mutant Club. His weirdo, club-heavy vibes have progressed into serious dancefloor destroyers and all four cuts here are more than up to the task. In fact, this is some of the coolest club heavy house we've heard in some time.—Brent

SteLouse - The City

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Release Date: May 19, 2014

As the video game future bass sounds continue to permeate so many levels of the Internet in 2014, one of the biggest standouts loaded with originality and imagination is SteLouse. Hailing from Denver, his The City EP is a gem of a release from Australian label DIE HIGH and maintains an insane amount of replay value. Feels like we got a new name here to pay attention to for a long time, honestly.—Brent

Lido - I Love You

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Release Date: June 23, 2014
Label: Pelican Fly

If there's one guy in 2014 who is beyond a shadow of a doubt having his moment, it's Lido. The Norweigian hip-hoppin' popstar has truly taken his game (and the overall game) to the next level as he has delivered remix after remix and now finally his amazing EP has proven he is truly on a different level. Not only did he produce the EP, but he sang on it, he recorded instruments for it, he composed it and he put it all together. A modern day one-man band, the question is how did he manage to put out such a prolific catalog in such a short time? Not really sure, but it seems that this EP's magnificence has been utterly powered by LOVE—and we feel every ounce of it.—Jake

Evian Christ - Waterfall

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Release Date: April 1, 2014
Label: Tri Angle Records

Evian Christ's Waterfall might make you want to design a bed that features huge subwoofers underneath your mattress. We're not sure if it was his use of bass that made Kanye call on him for Yeezus, but we can't help but think that his ferocious approach to crafting bass-fueled bangers was a part of the overarching vision that Kanye had. Waterfall is a brutal, punishing listen; if you're sound system isn't equipped for heavyweight bass or piercing snares, you might want to hold off on rocking with it. And none of that is even touching on how hypnotically excellent these riddims are. "Propeller" crafts a huge, impressive track featuring so many different accents and embellishments, it's hard to understand why most producers aren't engaging in experimentation; if it can get you on a Kanye album, how bad can it truly be?—khal

DJ Rashad - We On 1

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Release Date: April 28, 2014

Label: Southern Belle Recordings

It's crazy to think that just days before the release of We On 1, DJ Rashad was taken from us way too soon. It ended up going from his first proper 2014 release to his first posthumous. That dark cloud aside, We On 1 is still one of the best pieces of footwork to be released in 2014. Four tracks deep, and with collaborations out the wazoo (TEKLIFE homies Gant-Man, DJ Spinn, and DJ Manny all make appearances), Rashad carries the torch for the footwork scene, still, crafting a blueprint that fans and producers can follow into the next few years.

Take "Do It Again," for example. We're not sure who's idea it was, but someone needs to commend Rashad, Spinn, or Manny, as the progression of that "fucking her for hours" vocal sample is a thing of beauty. We somehow get a full story told in the repetitive footwork style, dropped over that thumping riddim. It's actually pretty amazing that he included Spinn (a frequent collaborator), Manny (one of the next up in the crew), and Gant-Man (a legend in the juke/footwork scene in his own right) under one release. One of those things that seems like it was calculated, given the timing, but was really just Rashad being Rashad.—khal

Enei - Goliath

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Release Date: May 23, 2014

Label: Critical Music

OK, I'm ready to admit it: the drum & bass scene is going through a resurgence. I didn't want to say it was, because hell, I'm a junglist and there's a boatload of quality dnb out there, but 2014 has done right by the drum & bass fans worldwide. And while there have been stellar releases by a number of established acts, it's great to see Critical Music, one of the leading imprints in future music, release a brilliant six-track EP from Enei, who himself isn't afraid of spreading his wings and flying.

Goliath kicks off with the rumbling, trap-influenced "Get Low," which is a major swerve considering that he's not known for this sound. While that's the only true non-dnb cut on the project, it definitely served as a warning to expect the unexpected. What we then get are pure jungle-drenched excursions ("Goliath"), dancefloor bangers with intriguing drumwork (the Lynx-esque "Hotplate"), unabashedly neurofunk beasts (the appropriately-titled "Prometheus"), and much more. If you're looking for an artist to follow into the dnb sunset with, you're playing yourself by not checking out what Enei's cooking. —khal

Nadus - Broke City

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Release Date: May 27, 2014

Label: Pelican Fly

With so much stock being put into the Jersey club scene by DJs, the media, and fans these days, it's great to see one of that sound's finest getting the proper amount of shine. Looking back at 2013, it was Nadus' homey DJ Sliink really made moves outside of just being "a Jersey club artist," and this year, Nadus is in the spotlight. His Pelican Fly-released EP Broke City wasn't just "Jersey club on the come up," though; he took it into exciting new levels. In a time where you're hearing a new Jersey club remix or producer who is incorporating Jersey club into their productions, we did backflips when we turned on Broke City and realized that it was much deeper than the cookie-cutter tracks that are being passed off as representative of this scene.

Standouts like "Nxwxrk" work a number of different ways; it opens with instantly-unforgettable piano stabs, while loads of synths and vibes layer in underneath. It's also a true call-to-arms for anyone who represents electronic music in Jersey, yet has a style that puts it on par (and pushes it past) a lot of the future music coming from imprints like Pelican Fly. "Marriage Proposal" might be what you'd consider is the closest to what many might consider standard Jersey club, and even there, the production quality and sounds used contain much more soul and, well, oomph than the norm. All of this means much more when you consider that Nadus will be donating the proceeds of Broke City to the Newark Boys Chorus School, which he was a part of as a child. That experience brought him to Europe, which opened up the realm of possibilities to the Newark native. Essentially, without the Newark Boys Chorus School, there'd be no Broke City.

All-in-all, if you want to revel in bedsqueaks and R&B bootlegs, be our guest; we're looking towards the future, and it feels like Nadus traveled to 3015 to craft this opus.—khal

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