It’s been a great year in music where seemingly every indie rock band that has made noise over the last 10-15 years released a new LP. From the name indie bands to newcomers, it’s certainly been an eventful year in music. Today though, we are looking at the next wave of artists that are set to make noise for years to come. While these certainly aren’t the only EPs released in 2017 that we loved, all of these artists have yet to release a debut LP. These may not be the first release from all of these artists, but they did release these EPs in the 2017 calendar year with compelling small releases, and a taste of what’s to come. Hopefully, we will get the full LP treatment in 2018 from these newer artists. Based on this list alone, we’d say the future is in pretty stellar hands.
The Artisanals ‘Literally, Anywhere EP‘
In reality, Charleston-based The Artisanals are still a very new band, formed towards the end of last year, but the wait for their debut EP felt like an eternity. Featuring an all-star cast of Southeastern (mostly Charleston- SUSTO, Brave Baby, Great Peacock, etc.) musicians, the band toured hard around recording in the early party of 2017, only giving glimpses into the project via teasers or their live shows before finally releasing their debut EP, Literally, Anywhere EP in September. The 4 song EP delivered on the promise of The Artisanals’ live shows and teasers – arena-ready, COSMIC folk rock ‘n’ roll. Literally, Anywhere EP though, is really just another teaser for their debut full length. We’ve already captured a glimpse of plenty more at their concerts.
RIYL: Tom Petty, lovable people, Ween, singing guitars, The Heartbreakers, Mary Jane, ACID BOYS, groovin
Cut Worms ‘Alien Sunset‘
Cut Worms is the project of Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based Max Clarke who released his debut EP, Alien Sunset in October via Jagjaguwar. Recorded mostly at his apartment in Chicago (Side A) before moving to New York (Side B) and finishing on an 8 track recorder, Max played all instruments and layered the songs himself on the Lo-fi debut. The 6 songs that make up Alien Sunset already feel like a timeless classic, leaving Cut Worms as one of the must hear up and coming songwriters. Cut Worms transports you back to the 50’s and 60’s, at first almost feeling like some kind of long lost early Beatles demo (but like a world where The Beatles were already experimenting with lots of drugs in their demo days) before giving way more into some Woody and Bob vibes. The emotional density of Cut Worms songs already has us yearning for more, and we can’t wait to see where Max Clarke goes from here.
RIYL: Harry Nilsson, The Everly Brothers, psychedelic reflection, Buddy Holly
Gus Dapperton ‘Yellow and Such‘
Gus Dapperton represents the future of pop music in many ways, at the very minimum, the future of the DIY pop star. Growing up in the digital age with the tools to create at home and an internet full of people to inspire you to be yourself, the 20-year old Warwick, New York native is one of those kids who has learned to be and express themselves however they see fit from an early age; while Gus was also dabbling with hip hop production starting out in Junior High. His self expression shines through not only in his fashion and style, but also into his music. With a few singles, and debut EP Yellow and Such released in August, Gus Dapperton has already shown a knack for dreamy songs with sprawling synth production that isn’t just reminiscent of every new indie pop band; including layered production and compelling lyrics ready to take their own form with each individual. The intricacies of the songs shine somewhere between dream pop and R&B, leaving Gus Dapperton as the future of Indie Pop.
RIYL: Killer Music Videos, 80s/90s fashion, mushrooms, slow dancing and swaying your bod, experiencing life
Honey Harper ‘Universal Country‘
London-based William Fussell, formerly of Atlanta-based Mood Rings and Promise Keeper, unleashed his debut EP as Honey Harper in November via Arbutus Records. Mood Rings made some noise on the indie rock scene with their avant-pop in the early part of the decade. But growing up in a small town in South Georgia, Fussell was always around country music. Over the past 10 years though, trips in different parts of the world and the move to London, seems to be what finally brought out that true bitter southerner in Fussell. This is no country boy though, instead Honey Harper is simply pulling out the parts of the genre that actually makes country music such an integral part of American culture and history. And it doesn’t have to be experienced in only one region or part of the country. We will put Honey Harper somewhere in the category of Cosmic Country – sad songs that are heart wrenching, slow burning and full of melancholy. With only 4 songs on the debut EP, Honey Harper will rip right into your soul start to finish.
RIYL: Townes Van Zandt, weed, Merle Haggard, sad songs, Simon & Garfunkel, Florida Georgia Line, late night reflections, Phosphorescent
Lunar Vacation ‘Swell‘
The absolute dreamiest EP (or album) we’ve heard this year. Lunar Vacation is a 5 piece dream pop/surf rock band out of Atlanta that formed last year while the group was all still in high school. While part of the group is in college now, the band released their debut EP Swell in August, even gaining a little buzz despite limited touring. With Grace Repasky’s sweet and comforting vocals leading the way, Lunar Vacation captures a different side of youthful exuberance than you find in today’s popular music – of a love and longing that was more prevalent in the music of the 50’s and 60’s. Perhaps it’s really just the innocence and vulnerability that exists in Lunar Vacation. It’s not just the vocals and lyrics though, as the band surrounds Grace with precision playing that breezes in perfect execution of every ebb and flow. Together, Lunar Vacation takes you to an emotionally aching space-time continuum, and you never want to leave.
RIYL: Beach Fossils, long walks on the beach, Best Coast, Wild Nothing, Camera Obscura, Hoops
Rose Hotel ‘Always a Good Reason’
Michigan-born, Bowling Green, Kentucky-raised singer-songwriter Jordan Reynolds used to tour with her psych-rock band Buffalo Rodeo. Earlier this year though, she relocated to Atlanta and released her debut EP as Rose Hotel in August via Fir Trade Records. Always a Good Reason is a mostly sparse, confessional affair that shows off Jordan’s side as a singer-songwriter. And whoa, Rose Hotel is absolutely stunning and haunting, a voice to reckon with. While our first taste of Rose Hotel is mostly Jordan strumming her guitar under her lush vocal arrangements and poetic lyrics, throughout the 6 track EP, Rose Hotel carefully places trumpets, horns, steel guitar and more into mix, never taking away from slightness of the songs, only adding to overall element. Rose Hotel is working through the emotions for all of us; can’t wait to see where she goes from here.
RIYL: Julien Baker, tears, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris, something real
Stella Donnelly ‘Thrush Metal‘
At only 25, Perth singer songwriter Stella Donnelly has released perhaps the most powerful song of the year in her first American single “Boys Will Be Boys” from her debut EP Thrush Metal. In the age of victim blaming and #metoo campaigns, “Boys Will Be Boys” is certainly one of the most important songs of the year, resonating around the globe and quickly gaining the young Australian international acclaim. Stella Donnelly is not letting sexual assault perpetrators off the hook, instead attacking more than just the act, but the old school way of thinking and excuses that still allows this to be happening today. But the sheer honesty in Stella’s lyrics don’t stop with just the one track, opening with “Mechanical Bull”, you quickly realize that her debut 5 song EP will spare no expense in both sincerity and bluntness. While it’s a sparse Lo-fi debut for the songwriter, Stella Donnelly stands out as one of the great new voices in music.
RIYL: Julien Baker, Courtney Barnett, Angel Olsen, yourself
Sun Seeker ‘Biddeford‘
Nashville-based 4 piece Cosmic Americana band Sun Seeker released their long-awaited debut EP Biddeford in July via Jack White’s Third Man Records imprint. Exploring nostalgia, melancholy, and emotional turmoil, Sun Seeker brings sunny harmonies peppered with psychedelia. One listen to lead single “Won’t Keep Me Up At Night” from the 6 song EP will immediately have you swaying along and wondering where this band has been all of your life. Sun Seeker’s brand of folk rock ‘n’ roll is entrapping in your ears; one of those bands that get the endorphins shooting throughout your soul, and leaving you only wanting more.
RIYL: The Band, Pavement, Beach Boys
Swimming Tapes ‘Soft Sea Blue EP‘
Originally from Northern Ireland, the 5 piece guitar-based pop band came together in their now home of London. Inspired by some of the US’ best indie pop and rock, Swimming Tapes released two EPs this year. The second EP, Soft Sea Blue, released in September, shows off a band full of promise, that may have even surpassed some of their American counterparts work. With enchanting song writing, Swimming Tapes presents a dreamy haze of a web that’s all spun into one tightknit sound, as if the friends have all been playing together for years. If you are looking to get lost in your music, Swimming Tapes are the earworms just for you.
RIYL: Real Estate, Beach Fossils, Alvvays, life
Listen to all of the EPs above in our Spotify playlist – including some bonus EP picks that we also loved from 2017: