Well… there goes 2014. It seems like only a short while ago that I was shaking off NYE and going upstate with Parquet Courts to finish Sunbathing Animal. That album earned its way onto nearly everyone’s year-end lists, including Spin (#2), Pitchfork (#24), Rolling Stone (#28), NME (#35), and Stereogum (#50). Based on the strength of that record, their follow-up full-length-EP Content Nausea (which featured some outtakes from our SBA/Tally sessions), and months of killer live shows, Spin declared them “2014 Band of the Year”. The band played a sold-out show at Webster Hall this month – the day the Spin article posted and with homies PC Worship and Blues Control – that felt like a victory lap for everyone involved. I couldn’t be more thrilled for my dudes, and can’t wait to see what they do in 2015.
Mannequin Pussy’s Gypsy Pervert also got some best-of love this year after being reissued on Tiny Engines. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone put it as his #9 album of the year (Sunbathing Animal was his #1, holla!), and as the #1 cassette release of the year. Way to go guys!!
And though they didn’t get the year-end accolades that Sunbathing Animal did, PC Worship’s Social Rust, Mazes’ Wooden Aquarium, and Dream Police’s Hypnotized – as well as the Eaters LP (duh) – are some other records that came out in 2014 that I feel very proud to have been a part of. These are compositionally and sonically interesting albums that you should check out now, if you haven’t already!
Another one of my favorite projects of 2014 is the recently-released second single by glam rockers Fa Bonx. I. love. these. songs! The first single sold out and this one’s even better, so don’t wait! “49 Stick” b/w “Tramps Jamble” is out now on What’s Your Rupture?
Fort Lean – a band that includes Jake Aron, my studio partner at Doctor Wu’s – are releasing a new record called Quiet Day, their first full-length. The album was recorded and mixed through 2013 and 2014, and the time and energy spent making it is evident in both their songwriting and arrangements. Daniel Schlett mixed the bulk of the record at Strange Weather; I mixed one song entirely and did additional mixing with Jake across the rest of the record at Doctor Wu’s. Quiet Day comes out spring 2015 on Ooh-La-La Records.
Also recently released is “Dreams”, the new single by Australian darkwave duo Buzz Kull. I met Marcel earlier this year while touring Australia with Parquet Courts, and was psyched when he asked me to work with them on this track. Marcel did an interview with Noisey recently (thanks for the shout-out!), and the physical single is out soon on Fabrika Records.
I spent a week mid-November at Outlier Inn with Honduras, recording their full-length debut. It was a real treat to be back at Outlier Inn (where we finished Sunbathing Animal) – the gear and vibe there are truly great. We recorded to my Otari MX-5050, and the band were eager to capture the live energy while pushing into new sonic territories, which gave me a real license to experiment with sounds. We mixed and mastered at Doctor Wu’s earlier this month, and it’s a truly killer-sounding album. Look for it spring 2015 on Black Bell Records.
Another record I recently worked on was with a new band called Shop Talk. Basic tracking was done by my friend Kyle Keays-Hagerman (who I worked with on the Dream Police LP), and I recorded vocals as well as mixed and mastered at Doctor Wu’s. It’s tightly-wound melodic punk – the metaphor we kept using was “raw nerve” -and turned out way cool.
I also recently mixed a handful of songs for Rat Columns (led by Lace Curtain tour buddy David West). Rat Columns is way different than his work with Lace Curtain or Total Control – bittersweet, C-86 vibey pop songs. I’m not sure what’s in store for these tunes, but hopefully they’ll be out soon.
And I’m wrapping up an album by Hums and Haws, the studio project of Chicagoan Matt Kordonowy. Matt was an intern at Experimental Sound Studio while I worked there, and it’s been great to reconnect and work together on this record. I’ve mixed many of the songs on the album (ESS engineer Todd Carter mixed the others) and am mastering it now. The songs on the record are quite varied – from beat-less washes of melody, to grungy pop songs that recall both the Kinks and Beck, to percussion-heavy rockers, and everything in-between – and it was a fun challenge to pull it all together.
I’ve also mastered a few records over the last couple of months: the debut album from new band Lightning Bug (a heady blend of shoegaze mind-numbers, psych-pop ala Broadcast, and ambient drone), the third EP from Railings (rock/pop equal parts dreamy and mathy), and a new album by the I Ching Quartet (acoustic folk ensemble and old friends from Chicago).
I’ll be spending most of the next couple months working on Eaters with my main man Bob Jones. We’ll be writing and recording new material and have some shows coming up in the new year, including a show with Wham City’s own Dan Deacon (February 25th at Rough Trade NYC). We got together a couple weeks ago to start plotting out this next record, and recorded this musical gift for everyone. It’s a cover of “Radioland” by Kraftwerk, based on an arrangement Bob wrote for guitar.
Happy holidays y’all – see you in 2015.
Lots happening since my last update…
Eaters toured the northeast/midwest in October with Lace Curtain and did some non-CMJ shows during CMJ in New York. We played some great and memorable shows with some great and memorable bands – too many to mention, but special shout outs to Protomartyr (always awesome), Turn to Crime (psyched to be working on a collabo with these guys – Derek, whaddup??), Koko vs Real Life in Montreal (seriously, please record something!), Dull Tools (represent), Big Mama’s House in Philly, my Chicago people, and of course David/Lace Curtain. Impose posted some photos of our show with Protomartyr at Death By Audio, even sneaking one of man-behind-the-curtain/third-Eater Chris Duffy.
Eaters also appeared on Driftless Ambient 1 with an improvised composition titled “Banner of Your Choosing”. I love how this song came about and turned out, and really happy to be a part of this compilation. Stream it above, and check out track-by-track details and hear the whole record on Dazed.
For the month before that, I was working with Liturgy on their new record. It’s an immense record – intricate and beautiful and fucking heavy – and its the culmination of years of work by Hunter, the band, and many others. I am thrilled to have been a part of this album, and absolutely can’t wait for people to hear it. We recorded at the illustrious Strange Weather in Brooklyn, with additional recording and production done by my long-time friend and associate Frank Musarra, and mixed at Doctor Wu’s. I wish I had something from it to share, but I don’t, so just watch this clip of them playing with Peter Fonda on drums instead.
I do have plenty of other stuff to share though, like this short film by Mary Harron (director of American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol) that I sound-designed and mixed. It’s a part of We the Economy, a series of shorts about the US economy, produced by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft), which screened for free last month and are currently streaming online with supplemental information about the wide variety of topics covered. Mary’s is called This Won’t Hurt a Bit, and is about the the history and sorry current shape of the American healthcare system. Bob Balaban, Lili Taylor, and many other familiar faces appear – this was really fun to work on.
There are several new releases out this week that I worked on as well. I co-mixed the new Dream Police record Hypnotized with Kyle Keays-Hagerman at Doctor Wu’s in the spring, and it’s out now on Sacred Bones. Dream Police is Mark and Nick from the Men, and this record veers way off into psychedelia and synth-rock, getting comparisons like “a scuzzy and potent take on that whole Drive soundtrack sound” and “a demented Dire Straits record”. The record premiered on Pitchfork Advance, and made it into Stereogum’s Heavy Rotation – check it out!
The new Future Punx EP I’m So Inspired is also out this week via Dull Tools. Drummer and swell guy Jason Kelly recorded and mixed much of this (with the basics tracked at Rubber Tracks), and we worked at Doctor Wu’s to finish the mixes and master. It’s got a classic new wave vibe, like some lost classic from the early 80s, hitting all the right notes for people pining for more bands like Devo, the Units, and Tom Tom Club. Noisey debuted the song “Forgive the Doubt”, and Impose posted the video for “Spike Train”, their track with Parquet Courts on the LAMC series (and which we mastered in the same sessions). People between NYC and Texas should make a point of checking them out on tour, and people everyone should listen to the EP, streaming above and on sale now.
Parkay Quarts/Parquet Courts have a new record called Content Nausea out this week as well. Austin and Andrew recorded and mixed this themselves about six weeks ago (fastest turnaround ever, no big deal), though some work we did together during the Sunbathing Animal/Tally sessions shows up here as well. I love the detours and explorations they take as “Parkay Quarts“, and it’s cool to see some old favorites re-imagined and find a home alongside some killer new stuff. Of note is the mastering job by Joe LaPorta at Sterling Sound and how cohesive these recordings made on a 4-track cassette, on an 8-track reel-to-reel, in Ableton sessions, and from a karaoke jam sound together. Awesome all around – check it out above, out now on What’s Your Rupture/Rough Trade.
Lots more happening now – thanks for reading!
The new Parquet Courts record Sunbathing Animal was officially announced this week, and with it a stream of the titular track and a Best New Track nod from Pitchfork! Of all the songs on the record, this is the one that still elicits the strongest reaction – it really does something for me. Tracking this song is probably the most intense recording experience I’ve ever had – there’s almost nothing in the instrumental to cue where you are in the song and it’s practically un-punch-in-able – and I think that feeling of riding the rails and struggling to finish the sprint is truly captured here. I like to think of it as the sonic equivalent of a beast of hair, teeth and claws bearing down on you as you for dear life.
Over the weekend, I listened to the acetate of Sunbathing Animal back to back with the test pressing of the Eaters LP with my other Eater Bob Jones and Andrew Savage from Parquet Courts (who’s co-releasing Eaters on his label Dull Tools). Both of these records mean so much to me (emotionally, creatively, professionally), from the experiences of making them (with people I consider to be both inspiring collaborators and close friends), to the finished albums (and the feeling that I wouldn’t change a single thing about either one). I can’t wait for people to hear what I’ve been doing with the last year of my life.
Another labor of love that just hit the internet is the first song from my good friend Gregg Gillis’ new Girl Talk EP with Freeway, Broken Ankles. I’ve been working with him off-and-on throughout this project, and it’s so exciting to see this drop. The first single “Tolerated” has a verse from Waka Flocka Flame, and an Enon sample to boot! Plus, the video is completely ridiculous and amazing. The full EP comes out April 8th on Dat Piff.
And I just got my own copy of the Fa Bonx 7″! They exist! There are all kinds of back stories and rumors about the provenance of these recordings… something about a forgotten glam band and rescued tapes… all I know is that Kevin from What’s Your Rupture brought me these tape transfers to work with, and it was a blast doing it. Check out The Rinda below.
I’m so psyched to be mixing the new PC Worship record right now! They were the first band I fell for after moving to New York, and I’ve scrambled to keep up with their releases since. This new record, recorded and mangled by primary Worshiper Justin Frye at Roulette, is a massive slab of mutant rock n’ roll that pushes the boundaries of their sound in some stunningly mind-numbing ways. Look for it this fall…. you should be psyched too.
I just finished working on a record by Dream Police, a new project from Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi of The Men. It’s a trip of a record, heavy on drum machines and wild solos, with a lot of stylistic ground covered – from industrial biker vibes to acoustic psychedelia to cinematic synth-pop and everywhere in between. I co-mixed it with Kyle Keays-Hagerman and the band at Doctor Wu’s, and Kyle tracked it at his space Spice World on his own Otari MX-5050. I’m not sure when or where this will be coming out, but it’ll be a real treat when it does.
Lots of cool stuff coming up this month! It’s too much and too soon to get into everything, but I promise it will be amazing! Thanks for reading, and please hit me up if you’d like to talk about sound: jonathan.schenke[at]gmail.com