Best of 2016 Playlist

November 8, 2015

Quick Picks: Best Acoustic EPs

Isn't it funny how a change of instruments can make or break a song. A growing trend in bands is to release acoustic albums. Originating in the early 10s, now it's become the norm for bands who are between albums. Some albums or EPs tide fans over until the next big thing. Sometimes it works, and sometimes you should just stick to the dropped guitars and heavy bass beats. These are the ones that worked, for us at least. Click our Top 10/Quick Picks page for more lists like this. 

5. Issues - "Diamond Dreams"  

This really, really, really threw us for a loop. Who would have thought that nu metal would translate so well into acoustic. But it did, and this EP is nothing short of mind blowing. Why the band haven't decided to ditch the metal and stick to a nice acoustic setlist we don't understand (seriously though, just stick to the acoustics guys). The songs, everything from the unexpected collab with Neck Deep on "Never Lose Your Flames" to the title track, to the EP closer "The Worst of Them" (which is probably the best of them) are superb displays of the band's talents. Lyrics carry more weight here with Tyler Carter's soulful voice commanding one's attention. Trading in turn tables and poor effects for a minimalist approach to the production results in a very pleasing sound. Not a perfect acoustic EP sure, but this is so much better than their debut album. 

4. Sleeping with Sirens - "If You Were a Movie This Would be Your Soundtrack" 

And if this soundtrack were put to a movie, it would be a rom-com. This set the standard for all other Rise Records bands. Though it's not as stripped down as some of the other entries on this list, it's still a change of pace compared to the band's previous album "Let's Cheers to This". Truth be told SWS is probably best when they do acoustic. "Gold" and "The Strays" two of the stronger songs from "Madness" could have been demos for this EP. Fan favorite "Roger Rabbit" infuses some indie, R&B, and a lot of Kellin's charisma into one powerful song. Poor Jesse Lawson's guitar is often left out, but let's take a moment to thank him for contributing some sick melodies to this EP. Sure it gets a little, okay a lot, cheesy at times, but it suits the EP, and to an extent the band. This is the kind of EP you'll listen to while having a summer fling. So go grab your high school crush, drive to a random hillside, and make out like they do in horror movies. 

3. Our Last Night - "Oak Island Acoustic"  

After releasing the standard version of "Oak Island", OLN came back about 6 months later with the acoustic renditions. They proved to be just as good, in some cases better than the originals. Our favorite track is perhaps "Same Old War" with its empowering spirit and take charge attitude. The newbie to the crowd, "Falling Awake" takes a close second place. The new track is about being kept from someone you love (most likely about Trevor's, at the time, recent separation from Noah, his adorable son). And if you want a slower, more ballad-esc song stick to the already uplifting "Sunrise". Again, it can come off a little corny, but it works. The message is conveyed excellently, and Trevor does a stellar job with his vocals. But the camaraderie between the brothers is best in the more acoustic-pop "Scared of Change". The energy is given a jump start, and gives this EP just a little boost to get you through till the end. 

SECRETS - "Renditions

Since Rise released SWS' acoustic EP, they've been trying to duplicate that success with other bands. While SECRETS acoustic EP wasn't as commercially success as their former label-mates' (then again nothing is ever going to bring the company more money than Kellin fangirls), it was a huge success in every other important sense. This was a raw representation of the band's skills and sound. Almost like a live recording, there's hardly any production to be noticed. Richard Roger's vocals in particular are a stand out. Click this (link) to read our review. But to best understand why we love this acoustic EP, just go listen to it. If you loved their 2013 album's closer, "Sleep Well, Darling", you gonna go nuts for this EP. 

1. Hands Like Houses - "reimagine"  

They're already a great band, then they go and wow us with some acoustic versions of their phenomenal album. We couldn't ask for more. A release date for their new album maybe, but that's a different story. Each track is the acoustic version of a song from "unimagine", given a title that mirrors the former. There's something for every HLH fan. Those looking for something with a bit more indie flavor go for "recollect". For a cozy, comforting track "rediscover" would be our recommendation. And if you're in need of a quiet, alt. rock ballad choose "release". The weight of the band's guitar section is shifted into keyboards and rhythmic beats. And unlike some of the other entries on the list, the band ramps up production for the EP closer "reflect" (Developments). The song was already quite ambient and airy. But the complete 180 done brings the track to new levels. We could go on and on, but we won't. Just stop what you're doing and go grab this EP, because it's in a league of it's own.