EPs are truly essential projects; they can encapsulate so much wonder and potential with so little, letting the mind run wild on what they contain. They often represent milestones for artists, displaying some of their first official work, capturing the essence of their art and laying the groundwork for future releases. Though these EPs are first projects for the majority of the artists on this list, with just small collections of songs, they’ve managed to make their marks on the music industry, proving to be stars on the rise.

 

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10. Cuco – Songs4u

Label: Cuco
Release date: January 28, 2017

Songs4u captures the heartbreak and romance Omar Banos AKA Cuco has experienced throughout his relationships. In “Lava Lamp,” he sings about his soulmate waiting for him and desperately trying to find her so he can express his emotions. While he tries finding his lover in “Lava Lamp,” he’s looking for his heart in “Lost / Heart,” not quite sure what happened to it but he knows his recent break up has something to do with it. Songs4u is a tug of war between falling in love and having your heart broken. It’s a psychedelic lovesick EP that you can ball your eyes out to or dance to like no one’s watching, why not do both at the same time?  – Louis Cano

 

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9. Injury Reserve – Drive It Like It’s Stolen

Label: Las Fuegas
Release date: September 29, 2017

The Washington trio, Injury Reserve, takes a journey through different sounds on Drive It Like It’s Stolen. It serves as an experimental effort finding where they fit  in best among different soundscapes which go over a promising mix of dance (“See You sweat”), conscious-yet aggressive hip-hop (“Boom (X3)”), industrial beats (“TenTenths”), unorthodox sounds (“North Pole”), and slow laid back beats (“91 Cadillac DeVille”). The boys definitely shine with their witty lines and clever verses taking a stance on stardom, using varied delivery with an old-school flow. Drive It Like It’s Stolen opens the trio up to a world of sound and versatility previously undiscovered. – Miguel Anderson

 

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8. Cosmo Pyke – Just Cosmo

Label: 70Hz
Release date: February 24, 2017

18-year-old Cosmo Pyke, model, skater, graffiti artist, musician and all around skillful artist, has left his imprint on the indie scene this year with only a 5 song project, Just Cosmo. This collection of songs uses superb instrumentals that are impressively so professional sounding for such a new artist and it perfectly portrays the blend of jazz, blues, indie-rock, reggae, and hip-hop that Cosmo has made himself known for. Using his smooth velvety vocals and lots of reggae guitar riffs accompanied by heavy drums, he beautifully captures the sorrow that young love and heartbreak could bring someone, in a way that’s quite upbeat and summer-y rather than sad and mellow. Just Cosmo is an instrumentally exceptional and heartache-filled yet feel-good EP that many young adults can enjoy and feel connected to. – Ashley Flamenco

 

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7. Yaeji – EP2

Label: Godmode
Release date: November 3, 2017

Yaeji’s second EP of 2017 is affluent in subtle electronic-dance beats, with a hip-hop influence, that could easily be classified as house-music. Beats in EP2 are quiet and sometimes a bit hidden but the captivating repetitiveness of them and her catchy lyrics are enough to get you bouncing to her music. Yaeji adds a minor blend of two different cultures on this project, singing in English and Korean, often with a touch of autotune on her vocals. With a mellow take on house-music, EP2 is the perfect mix of songs to jam out to at any club or include in any DJ set. – Ashley Flamenco

 

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6. Perturbator – New Model

Label: Blood Music
Release date: September 5, 2017

Perturbator’s New Model proves that synth can cover a lot as an instrument. From mimicking other sounds to creating new ones, building new realms, it’s the force that drives New Model to produce a brooding dark atmosphere with bold cutting-edge synth stabs. This dark realm feels like a nightmare as more experimental industrial sounds begin to take place. Every place where intensity increases, it grows into something more dark, aggressive, and manic, expanding its horror-like reach. New Model shows a new wave of sonic ambition that pursue metal and industrial sounds relentlessly with an electronic base. – Miguel Anderson

 

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5. EXID – Eclipse

Label: Banana Culture / Sony
Release date: April 10, 2017

EXID has always been a group plagued by setbacks and misfortunes. They faced disbandment in 2014 and in 2017 their star leader went on a hiatus due to health complications. To respond to the setback, EXID made Eclipse, a perfectly crafted response to their setbacks that has a wonderful  play with sounds and lineup changes that show bouncy versatility and artistry that reach beyond the constricting borders of K-Pop. EXID successfully plays with funk, jazz, R&B, pop, trap, and house on Eclipse, a grandeur triumph where everyone gets to shine. – Miguel Anderson

 

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4. Kamasi Washington – Harmony Of Difference

Label: Young Turks
Release date: September 22, 2017

This EP starts off with an alluring bass tune with not much around it. It’s the focal point until you hear the dreamlike organ which opens your eyes up to the beautifully orchestrated jazzy cosmic world of Kamasi Washington, taking you into the brilliant instrumentation that includes a multitude of instruments such as cello, saxophone, flutes, drums, and a chio just to name a few. Harmony Of Difference is a much more intriguing and appealing effort, clocking in at 32 minutes, delving deep into a rich sonic world that only Kamasi’s magic can take you to. – Miguel Anderson

 

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3. Billie Eilish – dont smile at me

Label: Interscope
Release date: August 11, 2017

Billie is only 16 and is already taking the music industry by storm with her debut EP don’t smile at me. Billie showcases how mature she is through her music, it’s raw and vulnerable which is not the typical music you’d hear from someone who’s only 16. Listening to the EP, you can see how genres like pop, R&B, and jazz were huge influences when crafting it. Alongside her dreamy vocals, she has her brother FINNEAS help her out with incredible production and the two make a perfect team together when it comes to making music. Billie Eilish is a perfect role model and someone for many young artists to draw inspiration from. – Louis Cano

 

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2. Rina Sawayama – RINA

Label: Self-released
Release date: October 27, 2017

RINA is obsessed with cyberspace and how life functions in it. Her EP is able to encapsulate the wonder with it and the sounds which inspired her. It pushes boundaries on it’s own, playing with 90’s and & 2000’s R&B, rock, and dance and putting together a narrative unventured, taking a nostalgic yet fresh and futuristic approach, building a foundation for her ever-conforming hyper-breed of pop. Her vision of pop is extremely bright and playful but curious in the changing world and fascinated with how life works in cyberspace, a place that is unventured. – Miguel Anderson

 

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1. Steve Lacy – Steve Lacy’s Demo

Label: Three Quarter
Release date: February 24, 2017

Though only being 13 minutes long, Steve Lacy’s Demo was a defining piece in indie music in 2017. What makes Steve’s Demo so impressively groundbreaking is how it was created using such minimal resources: an iPhone, GarageBand, a few basic instruments, and Steve’s talent. He makes it apparent that you don’t need much in order to make good music and to be a successful artist, something that he’s also proven through the wide range of musicians he’s produced for including Kendrick Lamar, Kali Uchis, and Ravyn Lenae. The EP represents what Steve refers to as “plaid,” a style that mixes jazz, soul, indie, hip-hop, and R&B. And it briefly captures the essence of crushes and young love through groovy lo-fi guitar driven songs. Steve Lacy’s Demo, an EP that was simply created from an iPhone, is a truly inspiring fresh and innovative work that has kept listeners eyes peeled for what’s coming next from this 19-year-old prodigy. – Ashley Flamenco