The Best EPs and other releases of 2017Phil Collins - January 8, 2018
Before we announce the results of Change the Rotation's best albums of the year bracket, it is time to recognize some of the best EPs and other releases (only full-length albums are eligible for the bracket) of 2017. This is not meant to be a comprehensive ranking, but rather a list of some of my favorite releases of the year.
Dead Split Egos - Ecdysis
Ecdysis came out early in 2017 and quickly earned its place as one of my favorite releases of the year. It is punishing in its deliberately-paced delivery, to the extent that when a song does kick into a faster gear, it hits like a punch in the face. "Guilt" is one of my favorite songs of the year. The traded deliveries of the song's key line at the climax is a perfect moment. The slowdown at the end of that section with simultaneous vocals from everyone finishes the song at a high point. This whole EP has the ring of a band that shot for a specific sound and knocked it out of the park. Stream Ecdysis at Dead Split Egos' bandcamp page. You can also listen to their new split with Livid. Read my original review of Ecdysis here.
Fitness - Puppet Show
Puppet Show grabbed me immediately with its Thin Lizzy-inspired dual guitars and crusty vocal delivery. What remains impressive several months later is the seemingly endless re-listenability of these songs. "Sin Bad" is doubtlessly among my top songs of 2017. "Jon's on Acid" has snuck into my head after more recent listens. Puppet Show doesn't take itself too seriously, yet there is some evidence of polish. The sequencing feels just right. None of the songs overstay their welcome. They get you into it and then it's on to the next song. That does not happen by accident. Read my original review of Puppet Show here. Pick up the 7-inch and stream it through our brother organization, Don't Panic Records & Distro. See Fitness live at Emporium with Horrible and Alouette this Thursday night. More info on that show here.
Assassination Squad - Busted
Busted was released at the very beginning of the year and it holds up as one of the top EPs of 2017. It has the gruff vocals and driving guitar of orgcore but there is so much more than that on this release. "Evil Eye" ventures into rockabilly territory while the instrumental title-track blows the roof off at the end with surf guitar and wailing saxophone. As great as the opener "Welcome to Atlanta" is, you will think you know what you're in for after you hear it and you will be wrong. This EP has a lot of surprises and executes them well. Read my original review of Busted here. Stream Busted at the Friskie Morris & Friends bandcamp page. Assassination Squad plays in Indianapolis on February 17 with Vodka DeMilo, Neglect the Alarm and Metric Units. More info on that show here.
PEARS and Direct Hit - Human Movement
Two bands I'm really into put out a split and guess what - I'm really into it. Splits are not uncommon in the 7-inch form, but a 12-inch split like this is fairly rare these days. Human Movement often feels like a full-length album. Both bands turned in six great songs, including Direct Hit covering one of PEARS' songs and vice versa. Direct Hit dial up the hardcore side of their sound on opener "You Got What You Asked For," which rolls right into the endlessly catchy "Blood on Your Tongue." PEARS come through with reliably punchy, memorable songs like "Hey There, Begonia" and "Arduous Angel." If you somehow have not come across these bands yet, this is a great place to start. If you're already a fan, this is probably one of your favorites of the year too. Stream Human Movement here.
Welcome to Chicagoland
This 25-song compilation, released by our friends at Friskie Morris & Friends, is a great introduction to our local punk scene for the uninitiated. Even if you are pretty well steeped in this scene, there are probably still some bands you are not familiar with yet, mixed with the greatest hits of the last year or so. The aforementioned "Guilt," "Sin Bad" and "Welcome to Atlanta" are all on this comp along with songs from Still Alive, Torch the Hive, Davey Dynamite, Voice of Addiction and more. You can even hear a song from the upcoming Kreutzer Sonata album. I love the idea that someone out there is discovering all these bands together on this comp, the old fashioned way. Stream Welcome to Chicagoland at the Friskie Morris & Friends bandcamp page.