Welcome to ISC HiFi. Explore new records daily from our growing collection of classics and rarities from around the world. Discover the stories behind the records. Experience the ISC listening space from home through our (( ROOM RECORDING )) audio player below.

“To hear more, say less.”

Our website uses cookies
Read our privacy policy.

I Agree

ISC Selects: 12 More Favorites from 2020

Written By: 
ISC Team
Tags: 
Share:
  •  

The pandemic. George Floyd’s murder and the furious protests that followed. The election. The isolation and its physical and mental tolls. Brilliant creators like Harold Budd, Charley Pride, Hal Willner and too many others, extinguished. We’ve all endured a whirlwind of emotions this year.

Music has been crucial for surviving these once-a-century circumstances. With so much time spent at home, we’ve collectively listened, deeply, to more music than ever in 2020: revisiting favorites from our collections; tuning into online radio; buying music in support of creators during Bandcamp Fridays; and sharing countless playlists.

And though our In Sheep’s Clothing collection mostly features classics and rarities, as fanatics we’ve absorbed tons of new work this year too, and have featured a number of 2020 favorites on the site that would certainly land on our year-end list — Tara Clerkin Trio, Lemon Quartet and Duval Timothy, for example. 

Instead of repeating ourselves, what follows is a selection of releases that you may have missed amid the volumes of transcendent music that has come out this year. 

Consider it more of a “when in doubt, listen to this” collection than a “best of” list…

We hope you enjoy and thanks as always for supporting In Sheep’s Clothing. Much more to come in 2021!


  • ARTIST: Eddie Chacon
  • TITLE: Pleasure, Joy and Happiness
  • LABEL: Day End Records
  • STYLE: Jazz, R&B, Soul

We all craved comfort this year, and from a music perspective, that meant returning to stuff that at some point in our lives has served as salve. In particularly harrowing moments, the warm tones of Sade and Shuggie Otis got a lot of play in our particular bunker. But when the pandemic has passed and we recall this extended isolation, singer Chacon’s Pleasure, Joy, and Happiness will be at the top of stack. A mesmerizing half-hour of candlelit melancholia produced by John Carroll Kirby, the eight-song record sees Chacon, best known as half of the ‘90s soul duo Charles & Eddie, crooning through songs about being caught up, hung up, alienated, hurt and lost. Chacon’s less interested in lyrical gymnastics than ease of expression, and across these eight unimpeachable songs, he and Kirby locked in on a vibe that seems to envelop you in its loving arms. – EL

  • ARTIST: Jabu
  • TITLE: Sweet Company
  • LABEL: (do you have peace?)
  • STYLE: Electronic, R&B, Dub

Sweet Company is the second LP from Jabu, the trio of producer Amos Childs and vocalists Jasmine Butt and Alex Rendall. The group is closely tied to Bristol-based bass collective Young Echo and bring much of the same dub-infused, leftfield electronic sound to this release. Mostly vocal-driven but carefully minimal and restrained, Sweet Company is intimate, modern R&B at its finest. – JM

  • ARTIST: Space Afrika
  • TITLE: hybtwibt?
  • LABEL: Self-released
  • STYLE: Ambient, Experimental

~ have you been through what i’ve been through? ~ by Manchester duo Space Afrika was released June 5 in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter protests and global movements that followed. The 18-track mixtape includes “off cuff new work / cuts / edits & extractions” from their NTS radio program and plays out like a reflective piece of sound art that captures the Black experience at this pivotal moment. The tracks are powerful and deeply moving, often including found sounds and recordings from the BLM movement. One particularly emotional moment in “oh baby” includes 9-year-old Zianna Oliphant’s statement “We shouldn’t have to feel like this” at a 2016 Charlotte City Council meeting. Required listening for these times! – PC

  • ARTIST: Josiah Steinbrick
  • TITLE: Liquid / Devotion & Tongue Street Blue
  • LABEL: Hands In The Dark
  • STYLE: Electronic, Ambient

Liquid / Devotion & Tongue Street Blue by Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, producer, and composer Josiah Steinbrick takes you on a Fourth World journey into an enchanted and mischievous dimension with lush and languid landscapes. Low key tribal ambience and hypnotic polyrhythmic percussion bring you into a borderline ceremonial altered-state, with moments so submerged and dissolving that the lines of the real and hyper-real become blurred, making you feel like you the hero of your own adventure — or maybe just deep into a heroic dose. – JR

  • ARTIST: Nashpaints
  • TITLE: Blindman the Gambler
  • LABEL: wherethetimegoes
  • STYLE: Ambient, Folk, Experimental

There isn’t much information around the elusive Nashpaints, who dropped his debut release Blindman the Gambler silently on tape back in June on the Dublin-based label wherethetimegoes. Strewn across the album’s 9 tracks are sketches of songs covering a wide array of experimentations in freak folk, dizzy pop, guitar infused bass music and heavy layers of field recordings. A truly original and personal piece of work, we recommend giving this one a full listen. – JM

  • ARTIST: Ulla
  • TITLE: Tumbling Towards a Wall
  • LABEL: Experiences Ltd.
  • STYLE: Ambient

Philadelphia-based ambient artist Ulla Strauss follows up last year’s excellent Quiet Time Tapes release with 8 tracks of fuzzy, smudged out ambient tracks. Deep and melancholic textures seemingly suspend time, while sampled instruments and voices pull you into dream worlds. As described in release notes, it’s “the sort of record that may leave users struggling to even get up and flip the sides, such is its soporific pull.” If you can make it through, the album reaches an emotional close with the rain-drenched “i think my tears have become good” that bears similarities to a Dominique Lawalrée or Ryuichi Sakamoto piece. – PC

  • ARTIST: Sofie
  • TITLE: Cult Survivor
  • LABEL: Stones Throw
  • STYLE: Dream Pop

The debut release from Los Angeles native (currently Vienna-based) Sofie Fatouretchi on Stones Throw, released in the summer, is a versatile display of talents from the rising artist. Labeling Cult Survivor as bedroom pop would do a disservice to the musicianship and songwriting on display across the album’s 12 tracks. Definitely a bright moment in a seemingly shadowy year, we loved the album’s closing disco track “Happen 2 B There” and its accompanying music video! – JM

  • ARTIST: Clarissa Connelly
  • TITLE: The Voyager
  • LABEL: Self-released
  • STYLE: Folk, Pop


Clarissa Connelly’s The Voyager is a whimsical collection of post-new age compositions that invoke a world of folklore and magical realism. Employing an experimental approach to traditional pop, featuring layered vocals, lyrics and visuals inspired by Celtic mythology, shifting soundscapes featuring elaborate arrangements juxtaposing synths and strings, she creates an interwoven tapestry with the natural with the spiritual, the mundane with the fantastical, simultaneously evoking imagery of a Utopian future and an ancient past. – JR

  • ARTIST: Bent Arcana
  • TITLE: Self-titled
  • LABEL: Castle Face
  • STYLE: Jazz, Experimental

The pitch: gather a bunch of killer players at Oh Sees/Osees/Damaged Bug/Castle Face king John Dwyer’s Stu-Stu-Studio in Northeast L.A. for five days of structured improvisation, then stitch the mind-bending parts together to create a record. What they bore is some many-headed beast that at different points channels Can, Grateful Dead, Boredoms and “Bitches Brew”-era Miles Davis. Deep and exploratory without ever being noodly or wanky, it’s the kind of record that heads will be discovering for years to come. – EL

  • ARTIST: Pontiac Streator
  • TITLE: Triz
  • LABEL: Motion Ward
  • STYLE: Ambient, Downtempo

From one of our favorite local labels, Motion Ward, Pontiac Streator’s Triz is a modern ambient stunner that seems to sit perfectly between the warm organic soundscapes of the past and the artificial synthetic textures of the future. Oozing psychedelic sound design harmoniously ventures into dub, downtempo and acid territory to make one beautiful cosmic whole. Up there with the best of 2020. – DM

  • ARTIST: Lloyd Miller with Ian Camp & Adam Michael Terry
  • TITLE: At the Ends of the World
  • LABEL: FOUNTAINavm
  • STYLE: Jazz, Fusion, World

Renowned world music expert and modern pop music cynic Lloyd Miller returns with At the Ends of the World, an apocalyptic jazz album that expresses “the social and cerebral atmospheres that Miller personally predicted for the pestilence of 2020.” Fans of Miller will be pleased to hear the artist diving even deeper into the wood flutes, hand drums, kalimbas, Dilruba, Santur and various other Far Eastern instruments that make up his signature esoteric, spiritual jazz sound. Though the album deals with the grim realities of the modern world, the overall feeling is a sense of hope as Miller attempts to heal with his divine music. – PC

  • ARTIST: Various Artists
  • TITLE: Chill Pill II
  • LABEL: Public Possession
  • STYLE: Electronic

Munich’s Public Possession continues their Ibiza-inspired Chill Pill series with their second volume, Chill Pill ll. Another perfect dose of chill out and balearic offerings from their stellar roster and some very welcomed guests. The label’s suggestion on consuming Chill Pill II? “Listening to this music will improve your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. While consuming Chill Pill a healthy mix of relaxation and hedonism is recommended.”- DM

Related Articles

Sort By
2020
Abbey Lincoln
Aboriginal
Abstract
Acid Archives
Acid Folk
Acid Punk
Acoustic
Adrian Sherwood
Africa
African
Afro
Afrobeat
Alan Greenberg
Amazon Music
Ambient
AOR
Aquarium Drunkard
Archival
Art & Design
Art Pop
Art Rock
Article
Avant-Garde
Avant-pop
Avant-Rock
Balearic
Baroque Pop
Berlin-school
Best of 2020
Big Band
Black Jazz
Blues
Bob Marley
Boogie
books
Bossa
Bossa Nova
Brazilian Folk
Breakbeat
Breezy
Brian Eno
Bruce Weber
Cabaret
CAN
Cape Verde
Caribbean
CD
Channel One Studios
Chanson
Chet Baker
Chicago
Choral
City Pop
Classical
Compass Point
Compilation
Conny Plank
Contemporary Jazz
Cosmic
Cosmic Folk
Country-Rock
Cult Classic
Dance
Dancehall
David Bowie
Deep Dive
Deep Listening
Detroit
Devotional
Disco
DIY
DIY / Amateur
Documentary
Don Cherry
Downtempo
Dream Pop
Drone
Drum Break
Drum n Bass
Drums
Dub
dublab
Dubwise
Düsseldorf School
Early Electronic
East African
ECM
Electric Lady
Electro
Electronic
Electronica
Elegant Pop
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam
Enossified
Esoteric
Essential Listening
Essential Listenning
Ethereal
Ethiopian Jazz
Ethnic
Events
Exotica
Experimental
Field recording
Fingertracks
Floating
Folk
Folk-Rock
Fourth World
Free Jazz
Friends of ISC
Funk
Fusion
Garage Rock
Gospel
Graphic Novel
Guitar
Hard Bop
Harold Budd
Haruomi Hosono
Heavy Metal
hi-fi
Highlife
Hip Hop
history
Holiday
Holy Grail
Home Listening
House
Hypnotic
IDM
Indie
Indie Rock
instock
Instrumental
ISC Classic
ISC Collection
isc guide
ISC Record Store
ISC Selects
Isolation
Italy
Jamaica
Japanese
Jazz
Jazz-funk
Jazz-rock
K. Leimer
Kankyo Ongaku
Kosmische
Krautrock
Laraaji
Larry Levan
Laswell
Latin
Lebanese
Left-field
Leftfield
Lena Horne
Les Baxter
Library
Listening bar
Live Performance
Live Recording
Los Angeles
Lost & Sound
lost and sound
Lounge
Lovers Rock
Mad Professor
Meditative
Melancholic
Mellow
Metal
Minimal
Minneapolis Sound
Mixes
Mizell Brothers
Modern Classical
Mono
Mort Garson
MPB
Music from Memory
Mwandishi
Narrative
New Age
New Wave
News
Nina Simone
Noise
Northern Soul
Now Sound
Nubian Pop
Nubian Soul
OBI
Obscure
Obscure Sound
Organic
Outsider Pop
Paradise Garage
Pastoral
PBS
Percussion
Piano
Plantasia
Plants
playlist
Playlists
Political
Pop
Post Bop
Post Rock
Post-Punk
Power Pop
Private Press
Productions
Progressive
Progressive Rock
Psychedelic
Punk
Qobuz
Quadraphonic
QUARK
R&B
Rare Groove
rca victor
Record Stories
Reggae
Reissue
Reissues
Remix
Rock
Roots Reggae
Ryuichi Sakamoto
Samples
Sci-fi
Shamisen
Shoegaze
Sly & Robbie
Smooth Jazz
Soft Rock
Songwriting
Soul
Soul-jazz
Sound Collage
Soundsystems
Soundtrack
speakers
Spiritual
Spiritual Jazz
Spoken Word
Staff Picks
Stoner Rock
stores we love
Streaming
Street Soul
Sun Ra
Sunn O)))
Surround Sound
Suzanne Cianni
Synth
Synth-pop
Synthesizer
Synthwave
Taarab
Tapes
Techno
Techno Pop
Third Stream
Traditional
Trip-hop
Tropical
Tropicalia
Vanity Fair
vinyl
Vocal
Vocoder
Walearic
Water
West Africa
West African
World
Yacht Rock
Yma Sumac
YouTube
Zamrock
ISCHiFi ((ROOM RECORDING))
0:00 / 0:00
0:00
0:00