10 Best EPs of 2019: South Carolina Edition

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    10 Best EPs of 2019: South Carolina Edition
    Published: December 30, 2019

    In years past, we included both EPs and full-length albums together in our best albums of the year list and compared them side-by-side as if they were the same. After some more careful thought, and a ridiculous amount of noteworthy South Carolina music in 2019, we’ve decided to split the two this year, and give EPs their own comprehensive list. EPs and albums truly are different beasts, and while some EPs may be stronger than some albums, it isn’t fair to understate the difference in time or resources that go into making one or the other.

    As evidenced by many of the EPs on this list, they’re often grittier and more experimental than full-length albums. They’re also often by brand new bands, so giving the EPs their own space also gives us a chance to peer deeper underground.

    Find below a list of our favorite EPs to come out of South Carolina in 2019. Listed in alphabetical order.

    See our best South Carolina albums of 2019 list here, and our best South Carolina songs of 2019 list here. Year-end lists from previous years: 2017 / 2018

    Art Star – Akin to Sin

    Art Star came out of left field this past summer with Akin to Sin, the most sonically unique collection of rock songs that was released in South Carolina this year. Akin to Sin basically does whatever the hell it wants, which is sometimes distorted, sometimes grungy, and always loud. Vocalist Mia Mendez’s ability to easily sidestep between different levels of aggression is a big part of what makes Art Star interesting. Akin to Sin fluctuates between feelings of anger, snarls, and cathartic breaks so rapidly that you might find yourself spun around and disoriented. And that is probably what Art Star is going for.

    Genre: Noise rock

    Editor’s pick: “An Unintentional Error Regarded as Revealing Subconscious Feelings”

    Beach Tiger – Easy Livin’ Dreaming

    Beach Tiger returned from hiatus in 2019 with a pleasant early-year surprise in the form of a new EP called Easy Livin’ Dreaming. The three song EP sounds pretty much exactly how the title suggests: laid-back, chill indie pop songs that feel clean and comfortable. One huge bonus for this EP is the production value, which can be heard throughout but is most apparent on the opening track, “Waiting on a Wire”. The way the synth orbits around the rest of the track sounds really cool, especially when you turn the volume up. This is a great warmup for Beach Tiger’s eventual release of a full-length album, which is something we’re all waiting for at this point.

    Genre: Indie pop

    Editor’s pick: “Waiting on a Wire”

    Catholics – Guilt

    Catholics were a big sleeper in the scene this year. Their debut EP Guilt admittedly slipped through the cracks here at Extra Chill until I sat down to make this list. I threw it on and started working on something, and got in the zone for a few minutes until the music snapped me out of it. I had forgotten what I was listening to, but my first thought when I came to was Shit, this is good. What is this? Since then, Catholics’ instrumental post rock journey has been in frequent rotation here at Extra Chill HQ. It goes great with a cup of coffee and something to think about.

    Genre: Post rock

    Editor’s pick: “Chicago on Meth: Scene Two”

    The High Divers – Ride With You

    The High Divers had a big year in 2019, thanks to the early summer release of their new Sadler Vaden-produced EP, Ride With You. The new EP shows The High Divers exploring more intimate territory in terms of songwriting, while digging deeper into their Southern rock roots. Ride With You feels like a summertime drive with the windows down, your favorite tape in the stereo and nothing but the open road ahead. It’s heartfelt, sepia-toned, good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll that’s filled with longing and nostalgia for someplace else. Someplace else is where they’re going, too, because band members Luke and Mary Alice Mitchell recently moved to Nashville.

    Genre: Rock

    Editor’s pick: “Still Kickin’”

    Jah Jr. – Still Dub

    In late 2019, Jah Jr. gave us all another reminder of where he came from and that he’s here to stay with the release of Still Dub. The new EP is a follow-up to 2018’s Back 2 Da Dub, and shows both Jah’s continued growth as a songwriter and the respect he will always hold for his hometown of Dublin, GA. Still Dub reflects on life in the yearlong gap between the two album releases, a time during which Jah went through a personal transition and gained a new level of confidence. The result is a Jah Jr. who is prouder than ever to be who he is, and who is more than ready to take the reigns in South Carolina hip-hop.

    Genre: Hip-hop

    Editor’s pick: “Kool-Aid”

    Leone – Angst

    Early in 2019, Rock Hill’s Leone entered the scene with the release of his debut EP, Angst. The EP is a funky, soul-driven gem that came by surprise out of a region that typically produces angsty rock music. With this EP, Leone borrows a few moves from the old school legends of funk, then mixes them together with his own moves to create something that is fresh and exciting. It was a pleasant surprise in South Carolina music this year, and more evidence of the creative force that is consistently gaining momentum in Rock Hill.

    Genre: Soul

    Editor’s pick: “Healing”

    Mids – Wellness Check

    Mids are a new project out of Columbia, but its members are by no means newcomers. The four-piece band consists of members of Dear Blanca, ET Anderson, and Niecy Blues, and started out as a Black Sabbath tribute. Welllness Check is what happened when they decided to write and record music together. While not entirely outside the lines for any of the musicians involved, it certainly pushes the boundaries by experimenting with elements of punk rock and psychedelia that aren’t explored so much in the musicians’ other bands. It’s an exciting blast of an EP and an example of the beauty of collaboration.

    Genre: Post punk

    Editor’s pick: “Stella”

    The Mobros – Characters

    Blues rock duo The Mobros made their long overdue return to releasing music this year with their new EP, Characters, their first album release since 2014’s Walking With A Different Stride. The band set the tone for Characters by dropping a badass music video for single “Don’t You See” (watch it here) that rightfully became a viral hit in the scene. The EP continues the vibe of effortless cool that The Mobros set in motion with the “Don’t You See” video, and gives us this little tape-recorded beauty of an album.

    Genre: Blues rock

    Editor’s pick: “Don’t You See”

    Solar Punches – The Qualm Factory

    Solar Punches spawned in 2019 out of the DIY scene in Charleston and proceeded to drop one of the most interesting and creative EPs that South Carolina heard this year. The Qualm Factory is a strange, electronic being that is constantly in motion. It plays like one long song, with seamless transitions as it drives along, picking up and dropping elements and layers along the way. What you hear at the beginning of a song may be completely different from what you hear at the end of a song, but the spectacle in between is what makes this EP worth a listen.

    Genre: Dance punk

    Editor’s pick: “It’s Time To Wake Up 2023”

    Tom Angst – Matthew

    The release of Matthew by Tom Angst was the most bittersweet thing to happen in South Carolina music in 2019. The EP came after an announcement that the band had broken up, and that bandleader and songwriter Danielle McConaghy was moving to Asheville and starting a new band. Hearing Matthew was a But… wait! moment for fans of the band, because its just as good as we all knew it would be and we will never hear a new Tom Angst album again. Once that sinks in, you should check out Danielle’s new project, Fleur Geurl. She released a single in 2019 that was also pretty rad.

    Genre: Indie pop

    Editor’s pick: “Midnight”

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