As the lull of fall classes begins to settle in, there have been several new EP releases that have proven to be an exciting counter to the dreariness of the everyday Zoom routine. Each of these short works explores the new directions these artists are embracing and the variance between tracks. For those who feel their creativity being stifled by midterms or Zoom fatigue, these are three EP recommendations to get the mind flowing.
“Video Game” by Sufjan Stevens
In true indie folk slash baroque pop slash electronica Sufjan Stevens fashion, Stevens somehow manages to make a two-song EP last more than 15 minutes. After his most recent March 2020 album “Aporia,” structured like a symphony and without any lyrics, Stevens’ mellow voice is back in the picture. But for these songs, Stevens’ production is much more intricate, as he plays with auto-tune and hectic backing tracks.
The first track, “Video Game,” structurally traditional for a single in both length and hooks, is about how Stevens wants to be independent of forces pushing him to act in the interest of other people rather than himself. Stevens denounces this force when he sings, “I don’t wanna be your personal Jesus / I don’t wanna live inside of that flame / In a way I wanna be my own believer / I don’t wanna play your video game.”
The next track, “America,” is a 12-minute-and-30-second-long protest song in which Stevens explains his contempt for the United States: “I have loved you, I have grieved / I’m ashamed to admit I no longer believe.” He also brings up more religious metaphors, a staple motif in his work, but these metaphors of biblical mythology are much deeper than Stevens’ early work, which merely retells these stories. In “America,” Stevens compares his relationship of betrayal with the United States to the relationship between Jesus and Judas when he sings, “I have kissed your lips like a Judas in heat / I have worshipped, I believed.”
“34Corine” by TiaCorine
As more women are taking the rap industry by storm, one name to look out for is TiaCorine. She is recognizable from TikTok, where her song “Lotto” has become a viral hit. TiaCorine’s soft voice and classic rap beat has been a formula for success, but this most recent EP shows she is more than a one-hit wonder. Her voice is able to switch from high and childlike to a lower and more sultry tone, as if she is having a conversation with two versions of herself. The track “34 Faucet” serves as evidence of this juxtaposition, with TiaCorine playing both the role of the man pursuing her and herself.
TiaCorine also experiments with her closing track “Avril Lavigne,” named after the 2000s punk-pop legend. Much like the song’s namesake, TiaCorine takes elements of this style of music like thrashing guitar chords along with auto-tuned rap lyrics and a steady beat to create a hybrid trap and punk rockstar-type beat.
“Bloom” by Gabriel Garzón-Montano
When Gabriel Garzón-Montano opened for Kali Uchis on her fall 2018 tour, although the performance was one of his earliest forays into mainstream music, his talented sound made him immediately captivating for listeners. This EP takes many concepts Garzón-Montano explored on his first album, but with improved production and more developed concepts, is a standout listen.
The song “Agüita” is completely in Spanish and, compared to some of his other tracks, speeds up the pace of the EP. The track makes you want to dance, and is literally about how Garzón-Montano dances as naturally as water flows. Despite his use of Spanish and the latin flair he adds, the track has a distinctly American quality due to its trap production.
It is the final song “Someone,” however, that solidifies how great this EP is. Much like Garzón-Montano’s earlier work, it is centered around a basic half-time beat, and Garzón-Montano sings about a failed relationship. But the way Garzón-Montano is able to slip around this beat, playing to the moments where the beat pauses by beginning verses in those spots, is intricate and makes it a standout listen. The lyricism is creative and plays with onomatopoeia and humor, with lines like “Overcooked vegetables / Conversation tense, you were edible.”