The music industry’s seismic shifts in fortune have yielded some positives amid all the changes — one of which is the embrace of extended play releases (or EPs, as they’re more often called). These short bursts of song allow musicians to stay visible in the marketplace, as well as offering a sonic appetizer ahead of a longer, more costly (in terms of time and money) full-length effort. Here are three EPs from area acts worth a spin, and all of which stoke anticipation for the future.
Bad Mountain, self-titled
There’s a wonderfully disorienting sense of temporal dislocation when pressing play on Bad Mountain’s eponymous debut EP. Fort Worth singer-songwriter Jesse Anderson makes music that could easily be an artifact from another era — a time when Twitter was just something birds did, and rooms were lighted with kerosene lanterns — but which feels wonderfully alive on this Beau Bedford-produced effort, recorded at Dallas’ Modern Electric Sound Records. Backed by an ace trio of musicians (drummer Nate Wedan, bassist Mike Talley and pianist Daniel Creamer), Anderson evokes the rustic likes of Ray LaMontagne — particularly on standout track Union Hill — and even mixes in some gospel and folk flourishes. A talent worth keeping tabs on. Bad Mountain plays Dallas’ City Tavern Saturday.
John Steen, ‘Off the Ground’
The moment when Dallas singer-songwriter John Steen suddenly spirals upward in Surf, the opening track of his debut EP Off the Ground, is electrifying, in its own small way. Compact at 10 minutes and three songs, Ground doesn’t give Steen much room to showcase his skills, but he makes the most of the limited exposure, working with UK-based producer Lorenzo Cosi (who has collaborated with Lana Del Rey, among others) to craft lush, glossy soundscapes that pop right out of the speakers. The title track is an appealing showcase for Steen’s easy tenor, which fits snugly between acoustic guitar, electronic effects and crisp percussion. As first showings go, Steen’s bodes well for whatever comes next.
Party Static, ‘This Isn’t Music’
“Mother doesn’t like it/Father doesn’t like it/This isn’t music,” intones two supremely indifferent female vocalists on Big Mouth Piranha, the wonderfully punky opening cut on Party Static’s debut EP This Isn’t Music. Not much is known about the band, a Dallas quintet that released this EP in August and has played a handful of shows around town, including a recent opening slot for Peelander-Z. But what is evident, apart from the studied sense of shambolic performance, is that this bratty blast doesn’t wear out its welcome over 20 minutes. The less they care, the more you want to hear.