Top 25 Austin EPs of 2011: #5-1

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Here it is, the final installment of our EP list countdown, highlighting the best examples of bands’ and artists’ work in the short format. Let us know your feedback on the top 5 and the full top 25 EP list in the comments. Also, for #15-6 of the countdown go here and for #25-16 of our EP countdown, please click here. And if you haven’t seen our Top 50 Austin Songs of the Year, we have it in five installments: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, and 10-1.

5. A Poison Tree - 'A Poison Tree' - Little Lo

Even before they released  their debut EP, A Poison Tree,  Little Lo started to gain a strong following based on their energetic live shows. The seven member folk rock band would sweep audiences from bombastic folk explosions complete with horns and booming percussion to softly strummed folk ballads.  On their debut, the septet have successfully transferred this energy to the recorded format. And with this release, Little Lo have claimed a spot along with Wild Child as the local folk bands to watch.

Click here to view Little Lo’s ranking in the top 50 Austin songs of 2011.

4. Empire Machines - 'Never Enough' - Empire Machines

Empire Machines, thus far in their career, have mostly incubated themselves in the studio waiting until their debut EP was polished off just right before releasing it to the world. At long last, the Empire Machines EP was released this past November to widespread critical and fan acclaim. Check out their Facebook page to get a sample of the big things that came as a result of the 6-track EP.  We at Ovrld believe all of the praise is well deserved. The Empire Machines EP  establishes the band as masters of a wide range of styles. On the EP, the band of guys in their 20s, take risks that keep us intrigued. Through the Muse-esque “Dog Eat Dog,” the electro instrumental “Panda Thief” and beyond, this six track can’t really be simplified down to any sensible “RIYL.” Just go ahead and take a listen and let us know if it’s to your liking.

For our full review of the Empire Machines EP, click here.

3. Kill a Buffalo - 'Birds' - Little Radar

The 3-track EP, Kill A Buffalo, is a a powerful indie folk release that is great all the way up to the last note. Little Radar swiftly whisk the listener through distorted guitar riffs, banjo finger picking and layered vocals throughout the EP until the final crescendo explodes into a frantic pace filled with yelled vocals and bombastic drum fills.  Each song on the EP has standout single quality but taken together they make an even greater impact that left us itching for the repeat all button. Little Radar are releasing a full-length soon and we can’t wait.

To read our full review of the Kill A Buffalo EP go here.

2. Even Clothed - 'The Adventures of Jubilant John in Giggle City' - Marmalakes

Marmalakes’ sophomore release, Even Clothed, captures the band’s expressive dynamism and also highlights their lyrical prowess. Alliteration, playful rhyming and visual adjectives are sprinkled through many songs on the 6-track EP which takes us through intriguing character studies and introspections. On Even Clothed, Marmalakes lead with the strong single “Geneva Hall” which matches the energy of “Vittoria” off Wonder Winds and then finish with the softly strummed “Balmorhea” which is reminiscent of The Kings of Convenience at their quietest. From raucous to hushed, Marmalakes dazzle with their songwriting talent on this EP.

Read our full review of Marmalakes’ Even Clothed here.

1. Bright Lights - 'Don't Owe You A Thang' - Gary Clark Jr.

Mentioned in the same sentence as legends Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark Jr. is being lauded as the savior of blues. And with the Bright Lights EP, Clark has proved that he has the chops and the cool necessary to redefine the genre. The first half of the EP is classic blues even down to the typical blues slowdown outro on “Don’t Owe You A Thang” but the back half of the EP highlights Clark’s smooth vocals and mastery of the guitar and almost sounds more R&B ala John Legend than SRV blues. For the upcoming full length, we’ll see which direction Gary Clark Jr. takes his sound, and by citing influences ranging from the Jackson 5, Prince and hip hop, blues rock should be ready for a game changer that has been only briefly previewed by the Bright Lights EP.

Click here for our August review of Gary Clark Jr.’s Bright Lights EP.