I have no hard data to back this up, but I suspect that EPs play a larger role in the world of cover songs than they do elsewhere. In the wider world, EPs tend to be an afterthought, a set of rejects or remixes that may or may not be worthwhile. People pay little attention to EPs, and artists act accordingly, saving their real statements for the full-lengths. In our world, though, we see as many EPs as we do proper albums, and they’re every bit as good. An artist may hesitate to put out a “cover album” – still a loaded term in some circles – but in the age of Garageband and Bandcamp, it’s only too easy to record a half dozen covers and toss ‘em out between albums. Therefore, in honor of the EP’s prominence in our world, we present our favorite EPs of 2011 (with an MP3 from each).
Mayer Hawthorne didn’t crash onto the scene the way other soul revivalists did in 2008. Sharon Jones and Raphael Saadiq cast big shadows that year that proved difficult for other soul revivalists to get out from under. Still, Hawthorne managed to get his voice out there and people tuned in to listen found themselves impressed. “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” became a stylish indie hit, shepherding many nerdy white kids into the enticing world of soul music. Hawthorne’s debut album A Strange Arrangement managed to propel him onto the scene, but this new covers EP will give Mayer Hawthorne the sticking power he needs to become an indie powerhouse. If nothing else, it will carry fans over until the long-awaited release of his follow up album How Do You Do this fall.
A couple days ago we told you about Mayer Hawthorne’s new covers EP and now he’s dropped the whole set for free. It’s called Impressions (though, ironically, they’re not one of the R&B groups he covers). Over six tracks, the Detroit producer-turned-singer positions himself as an archivist par excellence, digging up forgotten cuts from yesteryear (The Festivals’ “You’ve Got the Makings of a Lover”) and nodding to peer funk revivalists (Chromeo’s “Don’t Turn the Lights On”).