Album Review: Sheepman – Cold Feet in the Heat

Review by Mike Hiltz
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The first thing to note about my experience with this record is that I received it cold. I didn’t see Sheepman live; I didn’t read a review or hear a song somewhere. I don’t know Sheepman personally. I liken it to watching a movie I haven’t seen the trailer for. I rather enjoyed the experience of having no preconceived notions. It feels a bit like the days when people used to take a chance buying albums just because the cover looked cool.

Song one is called “Let’s-Get-High” and it sets the tone for the album. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Mr. Sheepman likely listens to a lot of Smiths and Joy Division or, at least, artists that are directly influenced by those bands. This is evident in Sheepman’s production style – heavy on the reverb and that loose, low tuned snare drum.  Oh boy, does he love his guitar effects – the chorus applied so heavily, sometimes, as to be almost dissonant. He uses acoustic guitar to great textural effect on a couple of the tunes. The one song that breaks from the rest of the album, sonically, is the acoustic guitar driven “Leopard on Leopard”. (As an aside, I’m not sure why he counts himself in.)

I am a proponent of short albums. Cold Feet in the Heat has nine songs – most less than three minutes.  A man after mine own heart. While I am grateful that Sheepman avoids rambling jams, it sometimes feels like the songs just get going when they trail off as is the case with “Mall Disco”.  I don’t get the impression that this is a concept album, but it does play as a unit. It’s not the sort of record where I would search for a favourite song.  This appeals to the renaissance man in me that puts a record on the turntable and lets it play front to back.

That said, if I had to pick one song to represent the album, it would be “Elementary”. Along with the opening track and “Poison Boys” it is the closest thing to a rocker you will get on this record and the guitar part is the closest thing to a hook you’ll get in Sheepman’s songwriting.


Sheepman describes the album as new-wave pop (“bobby” and “post-bro” seem like made up terms and I’m not going to pretend to know what they mean) and I feel largely that this is accurate due to the production. This album could have been made in 1980.  Sheepman’s songs have more of a stream of consciousness vibe than traditionally organized pop songs, though.  They are plenty melodic and fairly concise, which makes them poppy, but they lack the hooks.

This is an album brimming with personality, creativity, care and good humour.  

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Sheepman
Halifax, NS
http://sheepman.bandcamp.com/

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