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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Surf Music General Discussion »

Permalink Credibility of EP Releases vs Full Length in Surf, Opinions Please!

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Please weigh in!

The Kahuna Kings

Credibility? I tend to view it in terms of saleability in both a financial sense and a sense of audience acceptability. Maybe a distinction without a difference but there it is.

Music has, regrettably, regressed to the 78 rpm era in that it's almost exclusively a singles market now. Some wags might say it sounds like the 78 era with all the modulated, tinny vocals and twee instrumentation. Bands shoot for a hit, a download, a song that gets played as background music at the gym, at Nordstrom, etc. By the way I should point out that I've actually cottoned on to a few bands/songs by hearing them at Nordstrom and doing a Shazam search.

Anyway, I'm four-square behind the EP concept. It allows for variety but avoids filler. Traditional album buyers will accept it as a mini-album. Nontraditional or modern listeners buy plenty of maxi-singles in order to get B-sides and remixes. Win-win.

Even bands who release full albums tend to issue singles well in advance of the album release. I don't necessarily agree with this approach but it's the way it is now.

Ironically, our band still plans to make the next release a full album (10 or 11 songs). To be fair, surf music buyers/listeners seem to be more accepting of surf (or instrumental in general) music because it often is a mood-setter, a tone poem (no pun intended) etc.

I guess, more to the point, how many minutes of music would be considered as a full release in todays standard.

The Kahuna Kings

My response isn’t genre specific, but here goes:
In my experience bands will drop an EP to get songs out there quickly. Often, those songs will continue to evolve and be re-recorded with the changes (usually slight) or in better quality for a full length. Bands use proceeds from EP sales to finance better recordings and full length pressings also.

WRT time/length for a full length, I’d say at least 8 songs is appropriate, otherwise put out a 10”. Vinyl is popular again. I’m psyched on it, in the age of downloads, because you actually have a “thing” to hold and have, hang on the wall even, if it’s your own.

As always, have fun with it.

It doesn't matter. Whichever format adds up to the strongest whole is the way to go. The EP format seems like a healthy way for a band to keep moving forward creatively while providing the public with something to consume. The line between EP and LP is awfully thin sometimes with recordings that clock in at less then 30 mins still called LPs. Personally, what it's called really doesn't matter. Just make it count. In the 90s, due to CDs, albums seemed to grow way too long and it seemed like my favorite albums were still right around 45 mins. Coincidentally this is the approximate optimum length of a vinyl 12" album. I'm a big fan of 70s prog rock (If this makes me a hipster then call me the original one because I've been listening to it for close to thirty years. And frankly it's a good influence for writing surf songs) but every album isn't The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. To this day I still have not listened to a Tool album in is entirety. They are just too damn long.

It's probably safe to say that surf music is served better by a shorter format due to its self limiting musical nature. If you try to stretch it out too far it can become boring. I would argue that The Mermen (good lord it is almost impossible for me to post here without mentioning them) prove this. Far reaching and expansive as they sound, one could easily argue that their best recording is Songs Of The Cows. An EP.

I say record a batch of songs that work together regardless of length and call it whatever you want. You could call it "Black Market Surf Band". Years later you could record more songs to add to that album and call it "Super Black Market Surf Band".

Off the top of my head here are EPs that I listen to all the time and don't even think about it:
The Galaxy Trio - Saucers Over Vegas
The Galaxy Trio - In The Harem
(Yeah those are both EPs and if you're reading this and you don't have 'em you better get 'em)
Black Flag - Nervous Breakdown
Minutemen - Paranoid Time
The Mermen - Songs Of The Cows
The Goldentones - In Stereo (just got this Motor City oldie 7" with five songs. I'd say it's essential)
One could go on with great albums so short you could call them EPs.

Everything's not an opus. And it's ok.

Last edited: Feb 11, 2019 11:31:58

I don't necessarily treat EPs as illegitimate, but I find that they tend to lose their relevance once a band has a few LPs out. In fact, just looking at ElectricLimnology's post, I'm pretty familiar with Black Flag and Minutemen and not familiar with either of those. If I'm looking up a band and I want to find out what to listen to, I'm going to look at LPs and move on to the EPs once I'm an established fan.

Storm Surge of Reverb: Surf & Instro Radio

I like all vinyl, be it EPs with 3 - 6 songs (love 10” EPs!), 7”es with 2 - 4 songs, or LPs with 10 or more tracks. And, I don’t know jack about any modern trends.

I really like the British style of releasing a smattering of singles, then a compilation of those singles, THEN a full on studio album. In fact, that’s my lifelong dream for my band...

ElectricLimnology wrote:

it seemed like my favorite albums were still right around 45 mins. Coincidentally this is the approximate optimum length of a vinyl 12" album.

I heard that the maximum groove spacing is only possible at around 17 - 18 minutes per side. Most LPs have longer grooves (22 mins) that are closer together, which supposedly affects the bass reproduction as well as the longevity (bigger grooves wear slower?). Which makes the perfect album 36 - 38 minutes! (nothing official yet, just some badly mixed snippets from practice)

Great feedback! Ideally I would love to release singles for digital download and then at some point compile for a CD release. I am so anxious to get new music out but hate the idea of waiting months on end to do it. I believe Satan's Pilgrims is heading that way.

The Kahuna Kings

I am a big fan if the 7 & 10 inch vinyl EPs. I have never looked at them as a lesser release in comparison to albums. A large part of my surf collection consists of vinyl EPs (fewer CD EPs though). Maybe it is the tactile sensation of flipping the record over?

In terms of releasing them, USK has released three 4 song 7 inches, 2 cassette EPs, and 2 CD EPs, in addition to our full length CDs. The 7 inch is financially feasible for us in terms of recording/mastering costs, manufacturing costs (for 300-500 copies), and postage fees for purchasers. The EPs have sold well, so I haven’t seen a problem with them.


Home of Surf & Twang

I want to go on record as stating that the very best Man or Astro-man? release(1000X) is an EP. ;)

THE KBK ... This is the last known signal. We offer Sanctuary.

I used to be an LP snob.

I'm not proud to say it, but I tend to consume my music through my iPhone and usually while working or driving. I find some band I like, look at the 2x2mm pictures and choose something. Then I get REALLY annoyed if I have to choose something AGAIN in less than 40 minutes. Especially if I'm driving. I deliberately avoid EPs.

Then my band and I went into the studio and came out ... with an EP!

I think there are (at least) two facts to address when thinking about EPs.

1) The sheer cost of recording, mixing and mastering. Not to mention time off work and hospital bills. Your awesome surf band's music is expensive to bring to the world which is going to consume it essentially for free. And you will get nothing. NOTHING. And like it. Think $400-500 per track and an EP sounds great to me!

2) People seem to listen to and appreciate music differently today. My kids have free (to them) Apple Music access, yet they prefer to listen to singles on YouTube. Whether our music is on an EP, LP or single, the tunes themselves will wind up in someone's playlist (I hope!) along side Slacktone, Insect Surfers and The Pyramids!

Jonathan the Reverbivore

The Reverbivores

Please check out our debut EP Orbit To Intercept!

We surf musicians aren't Pink Floyd and we all have day jobs for the most part. We can't live in the studio for 8 months to create a masterpiece. My hats off to Ferenc for the latest Frankie and the Pool Boys record. It's got to be close to an hour long and very well developed and recorded.

The Kahuna Kings

Being of certain age.... most vinyl albums clocked in under 45 minutes simply due to space limitations. Personally, I love the EP format. I’m a big fan of putting out your best half a dozen songs. We’ve been working on the idea of several ep’s that each have a different theme. A la the Ventures!

Getting back to economics, does anyone think it's possible to record, mix and master 2 EPs' worth of material sequentially for the same cost as that material organized and released as a single LP?

I ask because my band is going through 2019 planning (anyone want to see the PowerPoint?) I'm wondering if maybe 2 EPs is better than 1 LP. We have no time bounds, so if the material gets released in 2020, that's fine.

Jonathan the Reverbivore

The Reverbivores

Please check out our debut EP Orbit To Intercept!

I love albums, and hope that they continue to be made, but I don’t see it as a matter of credibility. That may have been somewhat true in the past, way media happens in our day, I don’t think it has that much cachet, anymore.

When LPs came out, they were a huge improvement over the 78s which had preceded them. 78s held 5 minutes per side, while LPs could exceed 22 minutes. The “albums” of the Classic Rock era were products of that time allotment. Meet Some albums were basically a collection of singles, but many sought to offer an array of music. Albums were a story unto themselves.

Donald Fagan’s Kamakiriad is a perfect example, his Nightfly album of 1982 was another. In both cases, there was a theme that ran through the entire album. Recording artists used the album format as a way to express their artistic whims, and present a nice package to the potential buyer, but the 10-12 song album was simply a result of the technology used, it wasn’t a Divine decree.

In the ‘70s, Album Oriented Rock was all the rage, but it was simply a product of available technology. In the days of 78s, it wouldn’t have been possible. One negative byproduct of the album era was filler. Among the 1,500+ albums I have on CD, there is a lot of filler. There’s a rarely noticed aspect to this. If a band puts out an album with 10 songs, 2 or 3 of which were viable and the others were just there to fill space. But, keeping in mind that the publisher gets paid for every copy printed, the songwriters got paid for all the songs, even the fillers.

Digital distribution has loosened the technical restrictions and there’s no need for filler. If people buy on MP3, they can skip the filler entirely and buy just the most desirable tracks. Concept of the album is a great one, but I don’t know how long it will be before it is left behind.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.
My Guitar WebSite
Dead Thread

My thoughts as a music fan/surf music fan/surf musician...

Surf instros...let's say 2min to 3mins long. For a 36 min album, that is anywhere from 12 to 18 songs. As a musician, I'd say that is a lot of material! For a lot of writers, that would result usually anywhere between 25-50% filler just to fill up the space to call it an album.

No, I say! Credibility is earned when there is all killer, no filler!
If that means an EP of, say, 6 surf songs, that could still be epic! I listen to the same dang 4 Fender IV tunes all the time and while I wish there were more of those great tunes, it is hard to overstate what an impact those had on me and a lot of others.

Mai Tai Surf on Facebook
Hang-Ten Hangmen

Last edited: Feb 11, 2019 20:01:13

Point taken on filler. It's amazing what you accept as filler when you had spent your hard earned on a record as a teenager. There is also the concept of the album and CD platform where you play the entire record in its entirety and grew to accept the filler. I can say unequivocally that I am just as guilty in trying to fill space with filler. That being said and we surf musicians also trying to maintain our day jobs, I do like the idea of proceeding forward in presenting our best stuff in a given set of time. 15 to 30 minutes of balls to the wall vs that plus another 15 minutes of filler to satisfy a rule that doesn't even exist seems like a sound approach. Get it out, get some feedback, play it for audiences and start to write the next killer set of songs as they come to you.

The Kahuna Kings

Last edited: Feb 11, 2019 20:36:29

I have friends in a skiffle band who decided to release a song on wax cylinder for their 30th anniversary!

stratdancer wrote:

It's amazing what you accept as filler when you had spent your hard earned on a record as a teenager.

Silly and naive teenager me, I bought Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" CD, full price. Haven't known about his record company scuffle, thought I discovered something rare and exciting... A whole album that's one big black hole of a filler.

Anyways, as far as this discussion is almost redundant nowadays, I still like long playing albums, especially when they tell a developing story, have a theme, there's an added 'whole is more than the sum of its parts' value to it.

Clarry wrote:

I have friends in a skiffle band who decided to release a song on wax cylinder for their 30th anniversary!


The Kahuna Kings

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