The Art of the EP with The Scoundrels

As I prepare for my interview later this month with Long Island rock band The Scoundrels, I have been listening extensively to the five tracks that form their debut EP. Before you read that conversation, however, I think it would be helpful to understand exactly what makes a record an EP and why the self-titled Scoundrels EP drew my interest.

2015 EP cover

An EP (short for “extended play”) is an interesting format for new music releases, and one that we don’t discuss much on this program. Typically, the Appetizer focuses on albums, because these require the most crafting and allow for the most listener exploration of the artist. However, that doesn’t rule out any place for the EP in the world of music. Coming in at about 25 minutes or less, extended plays have been popular in the indie and punk rock spheres. They feature more tracks than a single, but they don’t require the same time commitment as a traditional LP album.

Particularly in my pieces on Matt Steady, I have talked about albums as full compositions where each track contributes to the themes and tones the artist builds over the course of a dozen-ish songs. I treat them like novels – they can be pored over, analyzed, and discussed pretty extensively if you commit to spending the time with them. The Scoundrels’ EP provides a quintessential counterpart to that idea; it’s a sampler platter where the selection of just a few tracks gives us less to focus on. Each track comes under more scrutiny, but commands a larger fraction of our attention as a result. Take a listen to the final track, which is full of somber longing.

Here we get a taste of lyrical expressiveness and emotional reflection not as prominent in tracks that are more grounded in the power of the electric guitar and drum backing. It comes as a sharp contrast to tracks like “No Win” that showcase instrumental prowess.

I could go through each track and explain how each covers a different base, so to speak. They are certainly unique from one another, and all are interesting enough to break down. When the interview comes around, you can indeed expect more of that analysis, which will benefit immeasurably from the actual input of the creators. Instead, this has been more about EPs in general. What are experiencing in The Scoundrels – EP is not like a single which showcases just a couple of tracks to garner publicity but does little to help us know more about the band. Nor is it an album, which has to sacrifice brevity for the sake of a bigger work of art. There’s less of a smooth progression, so it can feel like a more abrupt shift in tone as we flip from track to track.  Instead, they manage to capture five very different examples of the different sides of their music. It’s as though they hunted down and isolated those tracks which were the most different from one another. And with only five tracks to listen to, we’re able to experience that contrast far more sharply than if it were a journey laid out over ten or fifteen tracks.

I’m eager to learn more about how these songs were chosen and how they fit together, but I’m even more excited to learn what’s coming next for these Scoundrels. Stay tuned!

Richard Lyne

Richard is an ACU graduate who was graduated summa cum laude from Abilene Christian University’s honors college with a major in English and a minor in business administration. He hopes to return to school for an MA degree at some point, but is currently managing a coffee kiosk at the local grocery store in Denton, Texas. He has written for the Appetizer since spring 2015.

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