From the Intercom: The 20 Best EPs of 2022
Right, right, we know… it’s 2024 and this 2022 list is only now coming out? Blasphemy! But hey, great music is timeless, and our 2022 end of the year EP list has plenty for you to check out… or relive out here two years later.
The EPs here were chosen and voted on back in December of 2022, and we haven’t made any changes to how the list was ordered. Take a journey back to 2022 with us, won’t you?
Special thanks to Justin Ricafort and Jacob Ugalde for contributing blurbs. As always, thanks to Derrek Chow for our graphic.
Sea Lemon – Close Up
Seattle-based dream pop musician Sea Lemon (Natalie Lew) knew what she was doing when she released her debut Close Up EP on CASTLEBEAT’s Spirit Goth Records. Boasting a similar love for all things lo-fi and dream rock, Sea Lemon’s music sounds right at home in the cassette-toting, scuzzy catalog.
Shiny synths and Lew’s crystalline vocals add a new dimension to the genre, bringing her laid back, effervescent creations to life. -Li-Wei Chu
Weston Estate – Maggie Valley
What’s not to love about a good, old-fashioned boy band? The five members of the North Carolina based Weston Estate – Marco Luka, Srikar Nanduri, Manas Panchavati, Tanmay Joshi, and Abhi Manhass – jokingly proclaim themselves to be “ya aunty’s favorite boyband,” but they’re well on their way to become everybody’s favorite boy band.
Case in point: all six songs on the hip-hop inspired, indie pop-rooted Maggie Valley EP are joyful and suave, finding each of its members floating along and riffing off each other with ease. This is an EP made by one of those tightly knit friend groups who aren’t afraid of ad-libbing, adding inside jokes to the mix, and generally vibing with each other. On Maggie Valley EP, that feeling reverberates and makes you feel like you’re one of the crew. -Li-Wei Chu
Cryalot – Icarus
If you’re going into Cryalot, the experimental side project of Kero Kero Bonito vocalist Sarah Bonito, looking for more kawaii sharp beats, you’re gonna have a bad time. Like the moniker suggests, Bonito’s music as Cryalot represents the complete opposite end of the electronic music spectrum – digging into harsher industrial noises, screeching dubstep, and impressive metal vocal work.
Together with KKB tour member Jennifer Walton, Icarus EP takes those suddenly scary-Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared cues from “Only Acting” and turns it into an entire EP full of them. Bonito also gets the chance to explore some more depressing themes, using the myth of Icarus as a stand-in for her own feelings. As she hopelessly asks on “Labyrinth,” “Why do we dream if we only believe in this?” “Hell is [truly] Here,” and it sounds a lot like the discord of Icarus EP. -Li-Wei Chu
Mei Semones – Tsukino
Surely there’s something special happening over there in the New York City music scene. Follow the right artists and you’ll see the same names pop up over and over again. Brooklyn-based musician Mei Semones is one such artist, touring with a number of bands who we at From the Intercom are well used to seeing on our indie pop-laden playlists. But the music of Mei Semones exhibits more of a freeform jazz vibe similar to that of Thanya Iyer – amorphous and meandering.
With lyrics in both Japanese and English, Mei Semones’ music is classically grounded, playing with vivid, florid strings while she sweetly croons over them. The songs on the gorgeous Tsukino EP remind me of carefully painted cottage watercolors and afternoon tea times in the park: truly delicate and inviting. -Li-Wei Chu
Lyn Lapid – The Outsider
From the beginning, (Kate)Lyn Lapid hasn’t been afraid to notice, write, and indict the prevailing concerns of the times. While her big hit “Producer Man” aired out personal experiences of exploitation in the music industry, Lapid’s The Outsider EP faces the existential dread of platonic and romantic relationships.
Through her deep, searching, lullaby vocals and instrumentation that blends bedroom pop and R&B, Lapid speaks to the realities, identities, and insecurities of a maturing Gen Z. Deft lines such as “You don’t cross my mind, you live in it” and “The outsider of an inside joke,” prove both Lyn Lapid’s skill, awareness, and staying power as an artist we should keep listening to, insider or outsider. -Justin Ricafort
thuy – girls like me don’t cry
Even if you haven’t heard the name thuy before, chances are you’ve heard her viral single, “girls like me don’t cry,” “girls like me don’t cry (sped up)” or “girls like me don’t cry (slowed + reverbed),” which soundtracked hundreds of TikToks all throughout the year. And it’s no wonder – the title track off the R&B singer’s second EP is incessantly catchy, finding a chorus that rolls off of the tongue with ease. Even though I’ve only heard the song a few times (I’ll admit I still don’t have a TikTok yet… it hurts to feel this old), I still find myself singing it to myself throughout the day out of nowhere.
But on the rest of the EP, thuy brings delicious 90s/2000’s-inspired R&B back en vogue, throwing back to the dominant days when Mariah Carey and Brandy were playing on every radio station. Pick any one of the gems here – “playing tricks,” “obsessed,” and “u should feel special” are especially of the era – and you’ll be wanting to bust out the old iPod touch. Longtime collaborator and fellow R&B specialist RINI even pops up on the sappy duet “trust,” which will undoubtedly soundtrack many Asian American weddings in the upcoming years. With all the success that thuy is finding through her throwback jams, it won’t be long until she’s a household name alongside her 2000s R&B heroes as well. -Li-Wei Chu
Kaz Moon – Curses! Pt. 2
Kaz Moon (Cody Yao)’s sequel EP to 2021’s Curses Pt. 1 EP contains brief yet picturesque vignettes of romantic introspection. Not unlike a series of self portraits, Curses! Pt. 2 EP has plenty of moments of sobering songwriting from the magnetic, melodic eulogies on “Moment of Silence” to the bluesy, solemn guitar work on “Annie Just Blocked Me Again.”
Yao isn’t content on exploring a single genre either as on “Aprilfools :’)” we get a speedy, ’90s techno percussion driven confessional. We’re hungrily holding out for the inevitable quality and variety of a full length Kaz Moon project. -Justin Ricafort
Congee – Kwong
I’ll be the first to admit that what drew me to London-based producer Congee (Sam Tsang)’s music were the videos and his overall aesthetic. There’s an artsy flair to them that’s definitely drawn upon the artist’s Chinese background in a way that I don’t see much these days — the last time I remember seeing that refreshing element was in Monsune’s work back in 2019. And in a very similar way, Congee’s music is very heavily influenced by those sharp alt-R&B vibes.
There are so many bells and whistles here that absolutely pop – that rumbling, warbling bass throughout! Samples of family members! The delightful sound dynamics in every song! Each track on Kwong EP is meticulously produced and a wonderful showcase for what the future of what pop and R&B can sound like in the right hands. -Li-Wei Chu
Miya Folick – 2007
Breathy and emotional, Miya Folick is full of a musical spirit that produces anthems longing to be played in the largest arenas.
Her newest 2007 EP is stacked with back to back classics. “Bad Thing” is a marvelous, overwhelming gust of indie pop perfection (thanks in part to one of the best bass lines of the year). “Nothing to See” is a stripped down, surgical, acoustic diary entry of love lost. “You told me that you love me but you mispronounced my name / I never corrected you because I didn’t want to push you away.” Ouch. Does anything top that in terms of the pain of being Asian and in love? Venues across the world, Miya Folick is ready to see you now. -Justin Ricafort
Ivypaint – Never Pleasure
Orlando-based pop punk outfit Ivypaint made a great impression on us this year. Circumstances have led to the band’s break up, but they certainly burned bright with their breakout EP, Never Pleasure. Vocalist Sean Duong brought the perfect balance of charisma, heartbreak, angst, and growl to the band. The band’s emphatic high energy and emphasis on mental health as a foundation in their songwriting gave them a distinct identity. Highlights on Never Pleasure EP include the absolute earworm of a chorus on “Buggin’ Out” and the heavy, distorted vocal deliveries on “Mood Ring.” Ivypaint tenaciously imprinted on pop punk with this first and final EP.
Take your time guys, just know the itch for a reunion is already percolating. -Justin Ricafort
Ivoris – My Messy Mind
Maximalist sugar and twee are the name of the game on Ivoris (Sabrina Toon)’s My Messy Mind EP. The Melbourne pop musician dabbles in cutesy, pastel love songs – ones that especially shine when they’re paired with the singer’s honey-like vocals. The project is homespun, inserting faux vinyl crackles and cassette deck inserts to give it a truly DIY, nostalgic feeling.
Just take a listen to the ukulele lullaby “Fairy Bread and Old Cartoons” and try not to fall in love with the singer’s soft vocal delivery – coloring the track with the sparkling acoustic beats of the eponymous Australian snack. On other parts of the project, opener “I Wish My Mind Would Shut Up” laments Ivoris’ overactive mind as a hindrance, but closer “Strawberry” allows the singer to give herself some grace. It’s a good thing she does, too. After all, we wouldn’t have the six wondrous and lovely songs on My Messy Mind EP otherwise. -Li-Wei Chu
Katherine Li – Crush(ed)
If we could harness the power of longing, we could power the Earth, Mars, and Venus. And Katherine Li would be making outsized contributions on our behalf. Crush(ed) EP gives us a bevy of lovestruck, lovesick, love songs from the Canadian singer-songwriter and TikTok hitmaker.
2022 was a banner year for Katherine Li and the numbers show with her singles easily reaching millions of streams. Crush(ed) EP is something of a victory lap, tying all the tracks in one lustrous bow. Nerves and flustered feelings wrap around the onomatopoeic indie rock cut “Happening Again.” Tender, forlorn lyrics dance around a fragile piano on the bedroom ballad “We Didn’t Even Date.” But the crown jewel is Li’s desirous evocations on futile love on the sparse and frigid “Never Had A Chance.” Now excuse me while I bawl in a fresh corner of the room. -Justin Ricafort
Wallice – 90s American Superstar
The two times that the From the Intercom writers saw Wallice was touring for her debut EP Off the Rails, she would sneak in a cover of They Might Be Giants’ “Boss of Me,” otherwise known as the Malcolm in the Middle theme, into the setlist. And in a way, it makes sense – Wallice is a ‘90s kid, and which ’90s kid among us hasn’t grown up watching Nickelodeon and getting instant nostalgia from it?
On her aptly named 90s American Superstar EP, Wallice evokes the energy of that cover and uses it as a theme for five indie rock, alt-pop tracks that evoke those erratic whirlwind feelings of the 90s. Together with producer and longtime collaborator marinelli, Wallice instantly transports us to an era when alt-rock was king. “‘Cause we’re dancing at my funeral / I wanna rock and roll / When my body leaves my soul / The crowd’s gonna lose control,” she yelps on EP closer, “Funeral.” I say let her! -Li-Wei Chu
Raavi – It Grows On Trees
In a tremendously tight fifteen minutes, Raavi’s It Grows On Trees EP is a melody driven emo, math-rock prism that grips by its DIY fists. It’s energetic without going off the rails, and it’s cutting without being hopeless. Can you really hear “I tried to grow up to match what you’ve been through,” off of “AJ” and not feel anything? These lyrics test your rebellious heart, accompanied with emo standard basslines, harmonics, and fuzzy guitar licks (notably on tail ends of “The Neighbors” and “AJ.”
Get Raavi on your playlists now because this is a band with enormous potential that you’ll want to like before everyone else does. -Justin Ricafort
Fazerdaze – Break!
Maybe Fazerdaze (Amelia Murray) said it best when asked to describe Break! EP in three words: “unfiltered, gritty, and fun.” That’s probably the best description of the EP that I’ve read of the artist’s return to the spotlight, years after her indie pop breakthrough Morningside. There are a lot of reasons why someone would take a break from something they love doing (trust us, we know), but Break! EP shows why that time off for yourself isn’t wasted – despite what she seems to say in her own songs.
A lot of the songs here are about giving herself grace, like the mantra-laden “Overthink It” and the exciting eponymous title track which feels like Murray shaking loose those last few years of silence. Through lo-fi beats (“Winter”) and humming guitars, Break! is alt-rock goodness that buzzes with excitement. -Li-Wei Chu
Luna Li – jams 2
We were already blessed with Luna Li’s long-awaited debut album Duality this year, but just like the first one, jams 2 EP was the unannounced surprise sequel that was the icing on the cake. Though shorter than the first jams EP (from 10 songs down to 6), the quality and maturation of Luna Li’s sound has skyrocketed, with the tunes on this EP being a lot more groove-heavy, and each bringing their own specially unique soundscape that takes you to a magical number of places in a surprisingly and way-too-short amount of time.
You can get through it all in less than 5 minutes, but don’t let that deter you—this collection has some beats you won’t want to miss. -Jacob Ugalde
Jane Lai – Received Receipt
If you grew up listening to as many indie folk and indie rock artists that I have, the music of Jane Lai will hit you like a wave of nostalgia. Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Jane Lai makes music that feel akin to that of Frankie Cosmos, Lomelda, and most recently Katy Kirby, and Received Receipt EP does well to place her in good company.
Lai is a unique poet and singer – hanging onto every single syllable and drawing them out until each line turns into coos and are stretched into pure tones. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something very homespun Americana (lines like “beauty doesn’t belong in cheap diners” really help push that narrative) about it with its violins and layered vocals, evoking an interesting mix of Midwestern grassy knolls and NYC DIY. Homespun memories have never sounded as dreamy as they have here. -Li-Wei Chu
Saya Gray – 19 MASTERS
At the time of its release, Saya Gray’s 19 MASTERS was enigmatic to say the least, even down to the classification of the project. Case in point: when I reached out to ask if the project was an EP or a full-length album, my PR contact simply replied that they’ve “been calling it a project :)” Perhaps that interaction alone should clue you into how the 19 tracks on 19 MASTERS defy simple categorization.
But even though the “project” clocks in at nearly an hour, it never loses steam, despite the fact that many of the songs on the album feel like sketches warped through Gray’s demented lens. Crisp acoustic guitars guide the heart and soul of the project. Gorgeously layered vocals deliver truly strange lines with aplomb (nearly every line here could be due for a close reading, even the mysterious “Ew, yuck! Asian representation?” line on “11/19”) . The whole project hides so many Easter eggs in so many nooks and crannies that even after listening it all year, I’m still finding something new to discover even today. From scattered voice note samples to an audacious meditative pause in the middle of the project, 19 MASTERS is an intriguing listen that isn’t afraid to try something new and commands full attention from its curious listener. -Li-Wei Chu
Superfan (fka KALI) – Maltman and Effie
Of all the EPs this year, Superfan’s Maltman and Effie EP is the one I’m hopelessly enamored by.
Superfan isn’t afraid to play the music of present feelings with grit and desperation. Superfan’s multi-instrumental background is on full display here. Between the twangiest guitars, floating piano lines that open tracks toward the sky, and brackish drums, they all have chemistry. What’s not to love about the undeniable head bopping melody of “Addicted” or the drawn-out, epic ahhs on “Different Way?” Maltman and Effie EP is a dynamic peek into the future of indie rock that craves to be more maximal and meaningful. Permission granted to hop into the car with your friends and play this loud with the windows down. Favorite lyrics? “There’s a difference between a want and a need” on “Insomnia.” -Justin Ricafort
Ginger Root – Nisemono
Sometimes I wonder if Ginger Root (Cameron Lew) knew that this was the direction he was headed in. It’s only been a few years since he first released his funky, homegrown tunes in 2017, only to do a complete heel-turn into city pop stardom with the release of “Loretta” in 2021. Since then, he’s released his City Slicker EP, added idols that he’s inspired by to his fanbase (Mariya Takeuchi!), and basically became an overnight online sensation in modern-day Japan. In that sense, it’s only fitting that the title of Ginger Root’s second city pop-inspired project Nisemono EP, basically translates to “fake or fraud.” Ginger Root needn’t worry, though — Nisemono EP is once again steadfast proof that Lew is exactly where he should be, living out his Japanese idol dreams within a time capsule universe of his creation. Structured around Lew’s feelings of imposter syndrome as a musician, the story (yes, there’s a story!) of Nisemono EP is about a fictional Lew who is thrust into the spotlight after Kimiko (played by AMAIWANA), an idol he writes for, refuses to perform. With no choice but to let the show go on, the fictional Lew performs in her place and inadvertently becomes a star – much to the chagrin of Kimiko.
The resulting EP, Nisemono, is slick 80s goodness, chockful of surprises that evoke the city pop era but also builds upon it. Those whistles on “Over the Hill!” The funky jams of the title track! A fictional Kimiko setting the stage for the EP’s theatrics on “Kimiko!” The explosive energy of “Everything’s Alright!” Nisemono EP is Ginger Root at his best, and Kimiko’s right to be a little bit jealous when she returns to the picture later on. Who wouldn’t be? -Li-Wei Chu