Philadelphia basement-pop auteurs Honey Radar are back with Ruby Puff of Dust!  I’ve known Jason for years, have been a fan since he first handed me a CD-R of their debut Chain Smoking on Easter, and this new one certainly does not disappoint.  I mastered the new LP last year at Studio Windows, and it has already received glowing reviews from Allmusic (Editor’s Choice!), Brooklyn Vegan, The 13th Track, and more.  Ruby Puff of Dust is out now on What’s Your Rupture? – stream it below and pick it up on their Bandcamp.

The new album from psychedelic sextet Cloud Becomes Your Hand – Rest in Fleas – is out now on Northern Spy Records.  The Wire streamed the album in full leading up to the release, characterizing their music as “spanning Cantebury psych and the angular agitation of Oingo Boingo and early Devo.”  The group also released a trippy/drippy video for album-opener “Hermit”, which was featured on Stereogum (“as idiosyncratic as they are entertaining”) and Impose (“full of energy… their wayward bent is hard to resist”), and is streaming below.  I’m delighted to have mixed and mastered this incredible record – definitely check it out, and don’t miss out on seeing them live either!

“Busted pop” group Honey Radar recently released their new LP Blank Cartoon.  In addition to the pre-release buzz on Pitchfork and Noisey, the album has received glowing reviews from Tiny Mix Tapes (“a continuous stream of melodic consciousness where songs can expand from a few seconds of an idea into a nearly 4 minute single just as tightly wound and bombastic as those seedlings”) and AllMusic (“[Jason] Henn’s crack hand at melodies keeps listeners on the edges of their chairs waiting for the next one to come along”), with even USA Today naming “Caterpillar” one of the best songs of the week.  It was a pleasure to master this album – Jason’s an old friend and his music continues to amaze and entertain… I can’t wait to hear what they’re working on next!  Blank Cartoon is out now on What’s Your Rupture, and you can stream it below.

Kel Valhaal – the new solo project from Liturgy‘s Hunter Hunt Hendrix – recently announced the debut album New Introductory Lectures On The System of Transcendental Qabala.  Consequence of Sound, Tiny Mix Tapes, and THUMP featured the first single “Tense Stage”, which “burns and punishes like Liturgy, but through twitchy, gritty electronics” (COS).  I worked with Hunter on this record at the beginning of the year, recording vocals and mixing the songs at Doctor Wu’s, and I’m excited to see/hear him stretching out from the palette and preconceptions of Liturgy.  For more insight into the ideas and philosophy behind these projects, check out this new interview in THUMP.  New Introductory Lectures is out July 15 on Hunter’s new label YLYLCYN – preorder it here and stream “Tense Stage” below.

NYC trio VBA recently released their scuzzy art-rock EP Will It Still Be There on Blonde Redhead’s newly formed label Asa Wa KuruNoisey premiered the video for “Time to Be Nowhere”, calling it “as fun and filthily refreshing as a splash fight in warm mud.”  I recorded and mixed this with the group last year (at Seaside Lounge and Doctor Wu’s, respectively; Josh Bonati mastered it), and I’m really happy to see it have a wider release.  Will It Still Be There is available now digitally, and soon on LP – stream it below.

Brooklyn power-pop group MPHO recently released their album Midnight People online.  We recorded it earlier this year at Seaside Lounge (live to tape with additional vocal and synth overdubs), and mixed/mastered it at Doctor Wu’s.  I also recently worked with the group’s singer/songwriter Holly Overton on her second solo EP, which features live drums by Jason Kelly (Future Punx/Fergus & Geronimo) and sax by Ben Jaffe (Pill) – expect that later this year.  Midnight People is available on the group’s Bandcamp page and streaming below.

Stereogum recently premiered “Lazy Coast” by the Spacebomb-affiliated singer-songwriter Andy C Jenkins.  Andy recorded a couple of songs (“Lazy Coast” and the Matthew E. White co-write “Shenandoah”) earlier this year with Justin Frye (PC Worship), which I mixed and mastered.  Buzzy and grooving, the “Lazy Coast” single is out now via Paper Brigade.

The jangly Brooklyn trio Awards Banquet recently released their debut album If Not Now Then Summer.  The record was recorded and co-produced by my good friend Jason Kelly (Fergus & Geronimo/Future Punx), and was mastered by me at Doctor Wu’s.  I love records like this that feel as though you’re flipping through a particularly well-picked record collection… Flying Nun, Velvet Underground, Sparks, and Eno are all great touchstones for this one.  If Not Now Then Summer is out now on Scioto Records.

I recently re-entered the studio with electro-art-pop group Forest Fire.  I co-produced/recorded/mixed their last LP (the still fabulous Screens), and we’ve been working to lay down the foundation for their upcoming fourth album. This batch of songs continues down the path established on Screens –  clever pop songs swathed in grandiose synthesizer arrangements – but trades in some of the anxiety of that record for a lighter/breezier tone.  We’ll be reconvening in the fall to finish overdubs and mix, and I’m already looking forward to it!  I also worked with FF bassist/synth programmer Galen Bremer to record various elements for a score for the new contemporary dance work Archaea for the Evergreens, an immersive performance in The Evergreens Cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens.

Ottawa-based garage rockers Telecomo drove down to record their debut LP with me last month.  We spent a weekend at Seaside Lounge, recording live to 8-track tape, and I mixed and mastered the record at Doctor Wu’s.  They’ve already started a buzz in their hometown based on the strength of their demo and live shows, and I think people are going to love these recordings – raw and driving but extremely memorable rock and roll, and superbly friendly gents to boot!

Outsider country-crooner Dougie Poole and I just finished mixing and mastering his debut album Wide Ass Highway.  Woozy synths and blown-out drum machines anchor these twangy tales of woe, like on the single “Don’t You Think I’m Funny Anymore”.  Dougie will hit the road soon with the equally off-kilter Jerry Paper, and Wide Ass Highway will be coming out on JMC Aggregate.

And I mixed and mastered the new EP by hard-rocking Brooklyn band Tournament.  Jordan Lovelace from the band recorded it (as well as the new record by The Men that I recently mixed/mastered), and we spent a couple days at Doctor Wu’s bringing this thing to life.

I’ve mastered a handful of releases over the past month or so: an immersive improv recording by Alex Zhang Hungtai (Dirty Beaches, Last Lizard), Simon Frank (Hot & Cold), and Austin Milne; a bonkers electronic odyssey by Frattura Waltz (nom de guerre of electronics designer and Eventide associate Joe Waltz); an EP of sweet & sour indie-pop by Antibodies for Don Giovanni Records; a solo guitar/feedback EP by VBA’s Bentley Anderson; and an EP by soulful trio JK Lago called Over There, with the Over There.

I’ve also worked on some mixing and sound-design for films recently –  the surreal dramatic short film Bluebeard by Rachel Garber-Cole and Kimberlee Venable; and a series of advertisements and online shorts featuring undefeated boxer Dusty Hernandez Harrison for FILA, by Christopher Parker, James Petrozzello, and Brenden Beecy.

In other news, I’ve started working with Lysee Webb for management.  Her other clients include Grammy-winning engineer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Julian Casablancas & the Voidz) and Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens) – I feel in very good company here!  Please write her with any questions concerning rates and scheduling at webb [dot] lysee [at] gmail [dot] com

I’m heading to Hannover, Germany at the end of the week to work with Behave on their debut album at Big House Studios.  If you’re around NYC, come out to Trans Pecos on June 16th for an awesome show – Eaters, Dan Friel, Gold Dime, and New Pope (mem. Oneida, Starring).  Otherwise, see you in a month or two!  Thanks for reading.

Eventide Audio, the legendary effects and gear manufacturer, recently announced their latest plugin TVerb.  The plugin was developed in association with producer Tony Visconti, based on the fabled recording technique used on David Bowie’s “Heroes”, where he used multiple gated microphones placed at varying distances to capture the size of Bowie’s voice in the hall at Hansa Studios.  I worked with designers Joe Waltz and Adrienne Humblet as an “alpha tester” and sounding board to help develop the plugin, and contributed a handful of presets I developed on the new Eaters LP.  It’s not only a fantastic sounding reverb, but also an inventive approach to sound design that can yield some pretty unique results.  Check out Tony Visconti introducing TVerb below.

The psych/prog sextet Cloud Becomes Your Hand have announced their new LP Rest in Fleas.  I mixed and mastered the LP with head-Cloud Stephe Cooper and the band last fall, and I love this record – wild yet precise, hilarious and horrendous, it hits all the spots that you would want from a prog-pop opus. FACT Mag and Tiny Mix Tapes have both written excitedly about the new record, sharing a bonkers new trailer and the dizzying first single “Bridge of Ignorance Returns” (hear below).  FACT says the band have “such a knack for silly, cartoonish melodies that it can almost distract that they’re one of the most technically dazzling experimental rock bands on the rise.”  They’re hitting the road soon with label-mates Horse Lords… don’t miss out!  Rest in Fleas is out May 27th on Northern Spy.

Honey Radar is back with another batch of lo-fi pop-gems called Blank Cartoon.  Band-leader and old pal Jason Henn spoke with Noisey about the record, who also premiered the “busted pop” of the single “Fort Wayne Mermaids”.  Pitchfork reviewed the track as well, writing “Lo-fi, catchy, and classic-sounding, Honey Radar’s albums evoke a dirt-covered Nuggets collection from an alternate universe.”  Raven Sings the Blues shared the “hypnotic swirl and noxious chug” of “Caterpillar”, and Treblephonic posted an insightful interview about the background of the project.  I mastered this LP over the winter, it’s awesome, and available May 20 on What’s Your Rupture.

 

Parquet Courts recently released Human Performance to widespread acclaim and are out on tour now in support of it, but before they left, we worked on an EP of remixes and alternate versions of the title track.  I mixed a slower, more meditative version of the song called “Performing Human”, worked with my bandmate Bob Jones to create an Eaters remix, and mastered the EP (which also includes a dubbed-out remix by Chris P of Future Punx/Dull Tools).  The EP is due later this year on Rough Trade.

After some well-deserved time off and stripping back to a quartet, hard rockers The Men have completed a new LP called Devil Music.  They recorded it completely live (vocals and all) in their practice space with Jordan Lovelace (of Tournament/Pampers), and I recently mixed and mastered it at Doctor Wu’s.  It’s totally gnarly and woolly – fans of The Men’s first few records will be thrilled.  Devil Music should be out later this year.

I also recently worked with Mark Perro from the Men on another project – Midnight People, the debut album from MPHO.  We recorded at Seaside Lounge at the beginning of the year, and mixed and mastered the LP at Doctor Wu’s.  The group – which also features singer/songwriter Holly Overton and bassist Russ Hymowitz – shifted gears a bit on this recording, with the addition of a live drummer to the lineup.  The record still shares much with the melodic synth pop of their first EPs, but pushes in a rock/new-wave vibe with the more “live-band” dynamic.  Midnight People should hopefully be out soon.

I’ve recently put the finishing touches on Chroma, the new album by Australian dark-wave group Buzz Kull.  I first worked with Marcel Whyler on his single “Dreams”, co-producing/mixing/mastering it, and paving the way to this record. It’s great – heavy and danceable rhythms, moody and memorable hooks, with an interesting array of sounds and textures.  Chroma will be out later this year on Stellar Kinematics.

I’ve also been working with bizarro rock/synth noise band Ice Balloons to finish up their new LP.  We recorded a handful of tracks down at Seaside Lounge earlier this year and the group recorded a number of others themselves.  We took the batch into Doctor Wu’s to mix, and I’m mastering it now.

I’ve worked on a handful of masters over the last couple of months as well.  Alex Zhang Hungtai (formerly Dirty Beaches, currently Last Lizard) sent me a record’s worth of solo piano and field recordings, entitled Nina.  This beautiful and haunting collection will be out later this year on Ascetic House.  I mastered a record of blissed-out synth jams by Barry London (of Oneida) for Decontrol Records; a single by Alex Rose, a singer-songwriter associated with GODMODE’s House of Feelings; a bluesy solo EP by lead Junk Boy Brian Chillemi;  and the lead single by Obliques (formerly Zulu Pearls) for Cantora Records.

Many other projects are in the works too, and hopefully it won’t take another two months to update again… if it does, don’t forget to check out the Cloud Becomes Your Hand and Honey Radar records in the next few weeks!  Thanks for reading.

 

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.