Happy New Year Y’all!

Liturgy’s The Ark Work graced a number of year-end lists, topping both Rolling Stone‘s and Spin‘s Best Avant Records of 2015 lists.  “The most ambitious art-rock statement of the year is an ecstatic jumble of disciplines, ideas and textures” (Rolling Stone) that “blurs boundaries between worlds that you wouldn’t have previously thought even shared a border” (Spin).  The record also made Washington Post’s Best Music of 2015 (#8 – a “lavish sound-world out of guitar-generated turbulence, computer-generated brass and the muscle-generated rhythms of Greg Fox, one of the greatest drummers doing it”), Consequence of Sound’s Top Metal Albums (#13- “a transcendent achievement in that it is the audible equivalent of finally rising above all and reaching your final form”), Tiny Mix Tapes’ Favorite Music Releases (#48), and Spin’s Best Songs of 2015 (#77 for “Vitriol” – “out of black metal comes black gold”) .  The Ark Work is unlike anything else out there – check out the centerpiece “Reign Array” below.

PC Worship dropped Basement Hysteria, the long-form EP follow-up to last year’s Social Rust, on Northern Spy in November.  Justin once again wrote, recorded and arranged these songs with his band, and we mixed and mastered together at my place.  It’s looser, freer, and rawer than Social Rust, but any long-time fan of the group will find much to enjoy here.   Pitchfork gave it a 7.8, opining that “Here, rock’n’roll is a pirated vessel, steered unhurriedly toward doom.”  Check out the EP in its entiriety below, or head over to Northern Spy to buy it on good, old-fashioned CD.

Parquet Courts also released a full-length EP recently, entitled Monastic Living, their first for Rough Trade.  The recordings were from recent studio sessions and practice-space jams, edited and arranged by Austin Brown, and mixed and mastered by myself and Austin at Doctor Wu’s.  This record’s a weird one – a mostly instrumental collage of the band stretching out into some new and uncharted territories.  Reviews have been mixed across the board, but personally I love to see the band exploring different facets of their sound, and it’s got some of my favorite A. Savage cover art yet.

[Cease and Desist] DIY! (Cult Classics from the Post-Punk Era 1978-1982) – the compilation that was a target of Sony’s copyright lawyers – was released at the end of October on Optimo Music.  Pitchfork wrote a comprehensive and complimentary review, rating it an 8.4.  The whole thing is a must for fans of this era: the selection and sequencing by JD Twitch of Optimo is excellent and unique, and the liner notes and essay paint a vivid picture of the material on-hand.  I’m thrilled to have been able to re-master and add “further audio love” to the compilation.  Stream the sampler below and hang tight while they repress the record, or download the (slightly-edited) digital release if you simply can’t wait until then.

Dan Friel‘s record Life continues to charm critics, with a gushing 8/10 review from Spin (“astounding”, “impressive”, “a career highlight”), a 4.5/5 on Allmusic, and a 7.8 from Pitchfork. If you haven’t heard it already, what are you waiting for?  Also, make sure to check out Dan’s sci-fi book club feature on Impose, and this video of his son and friends freaking out to the song “Rattler”.

Brooklyn rockers Junk Boys (featuring members of Organs, MPHO, and Yin-Yangs) recently released their self-titled album.  We recorded an EP in early 2015, and returned to Seaside Lounge this past summer to record the full-length, which both expands and refines the sound of the band.  Impose says the songs “rip through attitudinal, turbocharged power-chord riffage, with crude, impassioned soloing, and incensed vocal howls”, premiering the song “Arizona Nights” last month.  Check out the album below or on their Bandcamp page, and go see them around NYC and try to score a tape.

Holly Overton – singer and song-writer of MPHO and Juniper Rising – released a solo EP in November.  We worked together to record and arrange the songs – breezy synth pop that fans of MPHO will enjoy – and I mixed and mastered it last fall.  Check out the video Holly made for the song “Midnight Sun”, and stream the EP below.

One of my favorite projects to work on this past year is the new Turn to Crime record Secondary.  I’ve gotten to know Derek and the band over the past couple years and love the music he’s been creating, but this is the best one yet.  Super catchy and utterly bizarre, it’s an album full of singles beamed in from an alternate reality where new wave, kraut-rock and glam still rule the airwaves. Derek wrote and recorded the album at his Molten Sound studio, I mixed it, and Sarah Register mastered it at the Mastering Palace. I can’t wait for people to hear this record!

Another highlight of last year was mixing and mastering the new Cloud Becomes Your Hand record Rest in Fleas.  It’s a wild, proggy ride of a record – alternately goofy and threatening, often in the same breath – stuffed full of unison leads, odd time-signatures, crazy synth noises, bells, whistles, kitchen sinks and more… it’s fantastic!  Northern Spy is putting it out this spring – stay tuned.

I also recently mixed the debut full-length of the band Gold Dime – the new project from Andrya Ambro of Talk Normal, backed by Adam from the Dreebs and Lazar of Sediment Club.  The album – recorded by Andrya and Justin Frye – is a heavy, heady slice of densely-arranged no-wave.  Sarah Register was her bandmate in Talk Normal, and she’s mastering it now – I can’t wait to hear it in its full glory.

Jordan Bernstein (the other constant in the Dreebs and often-bassist in PC Worship) has a new project called Jordonna: trap beats, prepared guitar, rapping and singing by Jordan, with additional vocals by Heidi Beth Jaye and Kassie from Guerilla Toss.  I mixed and mastered it with Jordan over the summer and fall, finishing it at Doctor Wu’s.  It’s a total curve-ball of a project, really cool stuff.  I look forward to seeing them play this live around NYC this spring.

Honey Radar is a great band from Philly, mining the best gems from lo-fi rock’s history… a little GBV here, a little Olivia Tremor Control there… They’re prolific and always interesting – just try not to get absorbed into their Bandcamp page!  Plus, my old friend Jason Henn plays drums and records the group’s material, so it was a great pleasure to master their new record Blank Cartoon.  Take a moment to go listen to 2014’s full-length Chain Smoking on Easter or any of their 3 EPs from 2015 to prepare yourself – Blank Cartoon drops this spring on What’s Your Rupture.

I always enjoy working with old friends on new projects, and it was no exception mixing the documentary film Up This Hill by Paul Sobota.  The film follows a group of inner-city youths from Cleveland as they travel to rural southern Kentucky to repair and restore homes, shifting from one type of poverty to another, and learning a lot about themselves in the process.  It was great to work with Paul and Ben Kinsley (who recorded and edited the sound), and I hope to see this moving little film making the rounds soon.

I also mixed a couple series of ads for the new TiVo Bolt, directed by Robin Comisar for Ghost Robot.  You may have seen one from ‘Interruptus’ or ‘The Date’ somewhere.  Robin’s got a great eye, and these ads are utterly silly… hope you enjoy.

Lots of cool stuff is already happening this month.  If you should find yourself in the Providence/Pawtucket area, come see the art installation by Christopher Duffy and Eaters at Machines with Magnets, opening January 15th through February 7th.  Thank you for reading, and please feel free to write if you’d like to talk about sound.

Honduras - Rituals

Rituals, the debut album from Brooklyn dream-punk quartet Honduras, is out now on Black Bell Records!  We worked on this record last fall/winter – recording live to 8-track tape in upstate NY at Outlier Inn, and mixing/mastering in Brooklyn at Doctor Wu’s – and were all thrilled with the results.  Brash and immediate, lovely and catchy, the record captures the energy of these songs and finds the group exploring new territory in the process.  Interview Magazine and NME streamed the record, both The Fader and BK Mag ran features on the group, and they’re wrapping up a tour with Oberhofer – go see them in your town!  Re-listening to Rituals now, I remember why I was so excited making this record, and look forward to getting back into the studio with them this winter.  Stream Rituals from one of the links above, and check out album-closer and personal-favorite “Mirror” below:

 

Dan Friel‘s new album Life is out October 16th on Thrill Jockey Records.  I mixed this wild instrumental noise-pop record with Dan earlier this year, and as a fan of both the man and his music, it was a real pleasure to help bring this thing to… well, life.  Fact Mag and Stereogum debuted the first single “Life (Pt.1)”, and NPR premiered “Rattler” in their column “Songs We Love”, throwing in a Sonic Youth comparison for good measure.  The album was mastered by Sarah Register, and “Rattler” is available to stream below.  Also, make sure to check out Dan’s interview and in-studio performance on WNYC’s Soundcheck!

 

Service Industry, the sophomore LP by NYC outre-rock duo Lushes, is also out October 16th, via Felte Records.  I worked with the group to flesh out the recordings with synth arrangements and effect treatments, yielding some interesting results and avenues of exploration.  In addition to the first single “Low Hanging Fruit”, Tiny Mix Tapes and Self-Titled Mag premiered “Circus” and “Rub Your Eyes” (streaming below).  The album was recorded and mixed by Aaron Mullan, mastered by Sarah Register, and features Sam Hilmer (Zs, Diamond Terrifier) and Justin Frye (PC Worship).

 

PC Worship shared the first taste of Basement Hysteria with “My Lens” (via The Fader).  It’s a 13-minute doozy of a track, an example of the more stripped-down and stretched-out vibes from the new EP (which I mixed and mastered this summer).  The group is on tour in Europe now, with NYC dates supporting Panda Bear, Container, and The Men this fall.  Basement Hysteria is out November 13th on Northern Spy.

 

Godmode Records are releasing a series of EPs by their artists entitled You’ve Been Sweating Wrong Your Whole Life, many of which I mastered earlier this year.  Yvette is a NYC electro-noise-rock duo I’ve been a fan of for years, having gotten to know them and sharing the stage with them multiple times, and their new Time Management EP is absolutely ferocious.  Pitchfork and NME featured the single “Calm and Content”, and Noisey and Stereogum hosted streams of the EP in its entirety.

Other releases in You’ve Been Sweating Wrong that I mastered include Hand of God’s Int’l Shipping EP (“trippy MPC house jams”), Fasano’s The Beach EP (“left-field b-boy crooning”), Fitness’ self-titled EP (“freakshow electro”), Soft Lit’s self-titled EP (“3am breakup pop”).  Malory’s self-titled EP is also a part of the series, and was mastered by Stuart Hawkes.  Kudos to label-head and producer Nick Sylvester for his creative sounds and direction on this wide-range of EPs!  Click on each of the above links for a stream and write-up of the release, and head over to Godmode’s store to order the series.

VBA recently issued their debut EP Will It Still Be There.  I worked with the group earlier this year at Seaside Lounge and Doctor Wu’s to record and mix these songs, which push the boundaries of rock into more experimental textures and form.  The group finished vocals and arrangements this summer, and mastered with Josh Bonati.  Stream the album below, and keep an eye out for them around NYC this fall.

 

Fort Lean released their long-awaited debut album Quiet Day last week on Ooh La La/Caroline.  My studio partner Jake Aron plays bass in the band, and I watched as they spent years crafting this album of immaculate indie rock.  The album was recorded and mixed at a variety of studios, including Dreamland (in upstate NY) and Strange Weather (in Brooklyn).  I did additional mixing with Jake at Doctor Wu’s, and the record was mastered by Chris Gehringer.  Check out their series of utterly bizarre videos by Mike Anderson (think Tool meets Beetlejuice), and stream the album sampler below:

 

Humeysha came by Doctor Wu’s to master their self-titled debut LP with me last month.  The Fader premiered the surreal video for the first single “Burma Between You and Me”, a great sampling of the New York via New Delhi sounds on this unique record.  Humeysha is out now on Camp & Street.

 

I also mastered the new Polly Hi album Deceleration at Doctor Wu’s.  The record was produced/recorded/mixed by Andrew Lappin, a regular and friendly presence at the studio.  Fans of Here We Go Magic and Wilco take note – this is spacious, grooving, beautiful stuff.

 

MPHO came into Doctor Wu’s last month to mix and master their new EP T.I.G.H.T..  They’re a new synth-pop group comprised of Mark Perro of The Men/Dream Police, Holly Overton of Juniper Rising/herself, and Russell Hymovitz of Junk Boys/Dream Police.  I’ve worked with these three multiple times, it’s always fun, and it’s been great to watch this project develop over the last year. T.I.G.H.T. is a gritty and gleaming sampler of disco power-pop – check it out!

 

Apart from all that, I’ve spent much of the past couple months focused on Eaters.  We did another run of shows with Shabazz Palaces, including a fantastic home-town show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (check out these awesome photos by Impose).  Our sound-sculpture Moment of Inertia was featured in both The Creators Project and The Spec, and we’re planning a couple sound/art installations in the new year.  We’ve also been hard at work completing the next full-length – I’m not sure what to say other than I can’t wait to share it with everyone!  In the meantime, Eaters are playing a couple shows around CMJ this month – October 16th @ Cake Shop (Inland Empire Touring showcase w/ Turn to Crime, The Gotobeds, Spray Paint and more) and October 18th @ Silent Barn (Dull Tools/Wild Wild Life party w/ Future Punx, Pill, Beth Israel, and many more) – come hear the new stuff!

Please feel free to reach out if you’d like to talk about sound, and thanks, as always, for reading.

Photo by Coen Rees
Photo by Coen Rees