If you go looking, you'll find plenty of arguments that the 7" ep is the best format for hardcore punk. Many try to rationalize, blabbering about short explosive music on a small format and more funny idea they pull from where ever. I'm not really interested in that kind of discussion, but have to admit I love 7"s. Even I have built some kind of emotional fondness for them, I know it's all rooted in economics. Growing up in rural Germany 7" records was the way to get to know a reasonable large number of bands. One LP sold at the price of three 7"s (not including the higher postage fee) so I quickly became accustomed to spending birthday or christmas money on a pile of 7"s each year.
Of course, the next thing was to tape the new records for friends, mind there was no internet. I've never built the kind of huge record collection that serves as fetish for a lot of my friends but I believe I have a fine selection of records, especially holding my two boxes of 7"s in high regard ;-). So the other day I thought a nice evening with 7" records only was long overdue. My next idea was to create a playlist for the blog, and then I was like "make it a playlist of seven seven inches" and then there was "make it seven playlists of seven seven inches" and there we are.
In the process I just went through my records and pulled out seven I would like to listen to, then another seven and so on. So as you can see it's no pretentious array of rare items or something like that. Just records I have wound up with over the last twenty years. So of course there's a biographical angle to that lists, but it's not intentional. It's about enjoying music.
I've included a playlist of only compilations, because they fit that argument of getting to know music especially well.
The economic argument above fits for the bands and labels even better: Back then it was the easiest and often the only way to get a record out for a d.i.y. band. Today, 7"s are so expensive in production and pressings are running low that they lost out. If you, as a band, want to get your music out you'll just put on bandcamp. If you want a record, you're doing a 12" - these days there are 7"s sold above the LP price, mind!
Haven written all that, there's one last thing I have to admit: I love 7"s but my favorite format is the 12"ep. Of course, economically they used to be the worst format, but they actually sound so great!
PS: Of course there's people that have all kind of arguments against 7"s,
like you have to flip it so often. Boy, do they also hate pizza because
they actually have to chew?