Recent favorites from Los Angeles, Detroit, New Zealand, Melbourne, and North West England.
Each week the global listening community gets bombarded with new releases, reissues and restocks. As music freaks who read these missives and are attuned to the bounty regularly arriving, we love sharing great sounds. Below are some particularly crucial new arrivals, a number of which will soon be available in the In Sheep’s Clothing shop.
Theo Parrish – DJ-Kicks: Theo Parrish
Detroit legend Theo Parrish masterfully guides listeners into the heart of his sublime world with this latest release for the esteemed DJ Kicks series. DJ Kicks has commissioned DJs and producers to create compilations since 1993, and over the years it has become the place where artists strive to create their magnum opus mixes — uninterrupted sets that encapsulate each selector’s aesthetic and ethos. Parrish took the challenge even further by working with each artist here to produce new tracks exclusively for this release. The result is an impressive array of vibrant and explorative acid house, jazz, gospel, techno, and R&B stomps that sonically center in Parish’s legacy in the motor city.
The 19 songs on this ambitious release span more than 90 minutes, with highlights that include Donald Lee Roland II’s “Simba’s Theme” with it’s gripping organic rhythm; Ian Fink’s sultry track “Moonlite”; and KESSWA and Nova Zaii’s evocative “Chasing Delerium.” We highly recommend you experience Parrish’s DJ Kicks in order, from start to finish, as this carefully produced and sequenced record is a profound sonic essay, and an incredible artistic achievement. – Tana
Maxine Funke – Pieces Of Driftwood
Crooked, singular, and striking, New Zealand folk singer Maxine Funke’s work across the past decade has sliced through data noise of 21st century existence by cutting to the quick. “Eternity,” for example, is set amid barking dogs on a Tuesday, in a “sweet little house” with “flowers on the table” where “pieces of driftwood line the windowsill.” The song is on her new release, which compiles extant recordings from 2013 to 2021 and a trio of previously unreleased tracks. Funke has released a series of killer records via Boston-based Feeding Tube Records, and is part of an extended continuum of experimental low-fidelity musicians who have made New Zealand a hub, including Bruce Russell, Robbie Yeats, the Renderers, and her longtime collaborator Alistair Galbraith (who was in the $100 Band with Funke). As with most New Zealand “folk” artists, Funke is driven as much by experimentation as tradition. She, however, possesses a singular trait: an ability to create paths of least resistance that connect her voice with listeners’ psyches. When, on “Room in the City,” she expresses a desire for “just a room in the city and less responsibility,” it’s hard not to start brainstorming solutions for her. As Feeding Tube’s Byron Coley notes in release notes to Funke’s album Home Fi, it’s also “hard to imagine anyone who actually likes music not falling for the sound of Home Fi. But hey, there’s a clown born every minute.” – Randall
Taylor E. Burch – The Best Of Taylor E. Burch
Local post-punk hero Taylor E. Burch (DVA Damas, Tropic of Cancer) makes her much anticipated solo debut on Regis and Female’s Downwards Records. “Informed by a love of classic Hollywood and the cheeky attitude of The Fall,” The Best of Taylor E. Burch (none of these songs have been released before) pokes fun at pop diva culture while playfully embracing it with references to Gwen Stefani and lines like “this is all in bad taste, huh” and “by the time I was three I could sing.” The production is dry, clever, and perfectly executed with a nuanced DIY approach full of sub bass, casually recorded guitar, and catchy melodies that perfectly match the “singer, songwriter, superstar” aesthetic. Highly recommended for fans of Inga Copeland, DJ Python, YL Hooi, and HTRK!
Cate Kennan – The Arbitrary Dimension Of Dreams
Cate Kennan’s first solo record comes by way of the Los Angeles-based label Post Present Medium. Dreamy, contemplative, and full of mystery, the album’s 12 vignettes build a distinct sonic world, one that is richly fantastical. Minimal yet full of emotive chord progressions and melodies, tracks head in unexpected directions, with each twist of a note redirecting your curiosity.
Exploratory and journal-esque in the way Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ solo records act as “self-portraits” — or how musicians are capable of sculpting a sound to clearly reflect an emotional state — Kennan is capable of extracting a lot with very little. The additional guitar work from Scott Gilmore and Cody Farwell provides more shades of color; they elevate what’s already gracefully floating. “The Arbitrary Dimension Of Dreams” is both lush and eerie, making it the perfect soundtrack for your next bout with deja vu. – John
Various Artists – American Dream Reserve
Santa Cruz’s Smiling C and celebrated selector Charles Balsey (curator of the excellent Club Meduse comps) team up for America Dream Reserve, an hour-long Casio-powered journey through lo-fi Americana, proto-disco, synth-washed lounge, and early drum machine-laden pop ballads. All 16 tracks here are absolute winners and perfectly encapsulate why we cherish private press. Like many crucial ’80s amateur recordings, the songs that make up ‘America Dream’ are incredibly heartfelt, almost to the point of endearingly goofy, with ambitious aims but frugal means. But it’s this uninhibited earnestness and eccentricity that makes the music so wonderfully fragile and compelling.
Packaged inside the Reserve is a treasure trove of vulnerable, passionate, and beautiful DIY recordings. Among them, the Joe Tossini produced favorite “You Always Hurt the One You Love” by Laura Michelle; a samba revamp of the Todd Rundgren classic “I Saw the Light”; repeat standouts by duet Canadian crooners Dunn; and even a twee minimalist “Eye of the Tiger” cover, to boot. 10/10. Comp of the year. Take our money, ’cause this is pure gold! 🙂 – Dane
CS+Kreme – Orange
CS+Kreme (aka Conrad Standish and Sam Karmel) are back with another round of ritual seance music on Will Bankhead’s Trilogy Tapes. We were lucky enough to hear some of these songs live earlier this year and have been running Orange on repeat since it was released last week. While the same hypnotic, experimental electronic sound from Snoopy is present here, this new album is somehow even more intense, with off-kilter beats, harpsichord, organ, cello, flute, chimes, and sampled voices meeting Karmel’s twisted keys/synths and Standish’s singular bass guitar. You can head to the Bandcamp page for detailed descriptions of each track, but we’d like to especially highlight “Would You Like A Vampire” with its looping “Earth is Paradise” refrain from Standish – and none other than UK folk hero Bridget St. John! – Phil
Brenda Ray – Perfume of the Soul
Previously unreleased post-Brenda And The Beach Balls pre-Walatta hip-hop inspired boogie, street soul, and pop house from Brenda Ray? YES, please! Only the second album from the enigmatic melodyist-rhythmist, Perfume of the Soul consists of archival material from 1989-1991 recorded on analog tape at Brenda’s home Naffi Studio. Naffi Sandwich’s Freddie Viaduct (aka Gerry Kenny) appears on a few tracks, along with a few new characters in the Brenda Ray universe including Eugene Lange (conscious rap) and John Williamson (acoustic guitar). “Theme From A Tall Dark Stranger” returns in a new dubwise melodica-heavy form here that sounds like the late-night echoes of the original composition. Deeply entrancing stuff, as usual. Perfume was released on Bandcamp at the beginning of the year, but we finally have copies of the vinyl in stock. Don’t miss! – Phil
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