Top 15 Kansas City/Lawrence EPs/Demos of 2017

Better late than never (again), right? Some people have shorter attention spans than others, so if LPs aren't your thing, make yourself at home on our year-end list of EPs and demos. Who doesn't love the Kansas City music?

Warm Bodies - "My Burning Love"
There are a couple good reasons why Warm Bodies' vinyl debut -- aside from the vinyl pressing of their "Domo" tape -- popped up so frequently on Maximum Rocknroll's year end lists. One being that the current coordinator of the zine also runs Thrilling Living, the label that pressed it, and the other being that it truly was one of the most impressive American punk recordings of the year. You've gotta hear it to believe it.

Jonah P. & Ricky Roosevelt - "In The Dark"
It's been about two years since the Vivid Zebra collective really became active, but its evolution since then has been admirable to say the least. Several members have teamed up or released solo projects, and a group effort may be on the way, but the best example of this evolution yet is the collaborative EP of Jonah P. and Ricky Roosevelt. Jonah P.'s pulsating house beats and Roosevelt's percussive bars helped "In The Dark" raise the bar for alternative hip-hop in Kansas.

Kye Colors - "Milk Is Nasty"
As it was pointed out on Twitter after the first year end list came out, I mistakenly had placed the most recent effort of Kye Colors on this EP list instead of the full-length one, and that's my bad. Pick out the release on that list you enjoy the least and pretend this one is in its place. "Milk Is Nasty," which has now vanished from streaming services, proved to be the teenage rapper's most polished project yet, exuding a calm confidence that his previous, but still exceptional, drops lacked.

Solomon - "The Serious EP"
Few Kansas City rappers possess the level of versatility that No Alternatives rapper Solomon showed on his sophomore "Serious EP." "Woah" is a bubbly love song, "No More" is a break-up anthem and party-starter, and the EP's title track likely evokes plenty of arm-and-footwork when it drops near a dancefloor. Solomon's emotive raps and untrained singing voice -- sometimes auto-tuned, sometimes not -- are more than endearing and allow his charm to leak through the speakers with every song.

Khrystal. - "The Glow Up"
Kansas City rapper Khrystal piqued the interest of longtime acquaintance Duncan Burnett in late 2016 and on the first day of 2017, they met up to record their first songs together. By the end of the year, Khrystal had dropped her first two EPs, joined the NuBlvckCity collective, and played more gigs than most local musicians had in the last two years. The second of those two EPs, "The Glow Up," featured all-original production from Burnett and some of Khrystal's most dynamic, but still free-flowing energy yet. The team is already at work on her first full-length release.

Devil’s Den - "Intruder"
From the ashes of one of Kansas City's hardest hardcore band -- Blindside USA -- rose Devil's Den. Featuring four of Blindside's five members, Devil's Den delivers its no-frills hardcore with nearly twice the speed and in half the time of its predecessor. There's a smidge more misanthropy tossed in there too for good measure.

Unforgiven Five - "Demo"
It's honestly tough to get a good sense of Unforgiven Five's influences -- I'm yet to ask, but I feel like they range from MC5 to Deep Purple -- but whatever gets this band pumped up, I'm thankful for it. Its members play in a wide range of cherished punk bands, but this is a different beast, running on purebred rock-n-roll power. Every track on this first demo -- a second is coming soon -- has an element that reaches out, grabs the listener, and shakes them for all they're worth.

Young Mvchetes - "Young Mvchetes"
Topeka is home to many hip-hop acts worth being proud of, but Young Mvchetes came out of left field and won over the town's scene almost overnight last February. This crew of revolutionaries, whose identities were technically anonymous until this month, expanded on many themes and techniques first brought to the area by Ebony Tusks, but incorporated a grittier and grimier set of influences that make more sense in regards to the members' ages.

Anna St. Louis - "First Songs"
From the juvenile romp of Crap Corps, to the brooding, psychedelic bliss of Bloodbirds, the music of Anna St. Louis has come a long way in the last decade. Following a demo back in 2015, the singer-songwriter -- now residing in Los Angeles -- released her debut EP on Kevin Morby's Mare Records imprint last year. Throughout "First Songs," St. Louis collates quiet, Americana charm with a bluesy simplicity that's nearly impossible not to fall in love with.

The Whiffs - "Take A Whiff!"
Kansas City powerpop lives. This three-headed super-group emerged in late 2016 before dropping this tape full of gems last March, while simultaneously out-gigging every other rock band in town. The lyrics of every song on this EP would fly from the lungs of Blind Tiger patrons on an almost weekly basis -- may it rest in power, or something.

Dev3n - "EPHNY"
Every year there are one or two projects that I wish I had devoted more coverage to, and in 2017, one of those was Dev3n's "EPHNY." Rife with engaging arrangements, understated hooks, and thoughtful raps, this project only grows more interesting with repeated listens. I still think T.D.E. -- or maybe Dreamville -- should sign him.

Richman - "Outlier"
Bear Club Music Group's sole 2017 release proved to be a real doozy. The songs on Richman's "Outlier" EP shift between dark, experimental house anthems and screeching, electronic dissonance. The eerie, repetitive vocal samples on tracks like "Lights Out" only solidify the sleek moodiness in Richman's production.

Mess - "Heartswithholes"
The debut EP from Kansas City emo band Mess is brimming with subtle instrumentation and gut-wrenching crescendos. Each track on this squeaky-clean release taps into a different type of angst or sadness and checks all the right boxes for the nineties babies that still love a melancholy guitar song. Allison Gliesman's songwriting abilities are also far beyond her years.

Liquid Swords - "Demo"
If the Devil's Den EP left you wanting even more dark Kansas City hardcore, then you're in luck. A foursome of snotty punk rockers decided to pick up where some old Boston bands left off, and boy does it get kinda evil. Who knew friendly vocalist Jake Streiff could sound this pissed?

Natural Man & The Flamin’ Hot Band - "Natural Man & The Flamin’ Hot Band"
Is it punk? Is it new wave? Is it fourth-wave ska? Whatever you want to call it, Natural Man & The Flamin' Hot Band is one of the most fun and refreshing acts Kansas City saw all year. Comprised of seven of your favorite DIY rockers, the band's playful foray into political music and, simultaneously, more danceable music is sure to put a smile on any listener's face and a skip in their step.

Honorable mentions: Nitecrawlers - "Demo,"  Dead Dads Club - "Floo Medz," Leg Day - "George Clooney," Scammers - "Love Is A Rough Stone Cut," Donnell - "Feel Good," Judge - "X," Burrows - "Burrows," Khrystal. - "Quarter Century Living," Killakee Kat - "Katz Are Back In Town," Young Mvchetes - "S U R V E I L L A N C E ! ! !"

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