Light Up Gold by Parquet Courts came out 10 years ago today! Stereogum and Brooklyn Vegan both ran features to celebrate the anniversary, as the band continues to tour the world behind their seventh record Sympathy For Life. Making this record with them was like capturing lighting in a bottle… we recorded everything in three days onto a Tascam 388 in their old practice space, and mixed & mastered it in my old apartment in even less time. “Stoned and Starving” was the first song we tracked, and I still remember getting chills as I heard them bash it out in the room around me, crossing my fingers that everything was actually recording correctly. Needless to say, it did work, and in ways we never could have expected. Light Up Gold is out on What’s Your Rupture.
Of the dozens of albums & singles I worked on that came out in 2019, Phantom Rhythm by Gong Gong Gong is particularly near & dear to my heart. I produced/recorded/mixed the record (and earlier singles) with the group starting back in 2017, and played the works-in-progress for friends & colleagues, leading to tours with Parquet Courts, Bodega, and Flasher and a relationship with the always-interesting Wharf Cat Records. Unsurprisingly, this fresh take on “multinational blues” made its way onto a number of Best Of 2019 lists, including Loud and Quiet, Aquarium Drunkard, and Raven Sings the Blues, as well as writers’ lists in The Wire and The Guardian.
Phantom Rhythm also made its way onto Post Trash‘s Best of 2019 list, where it shares space alongside Duo Duo by electro-rock whiz kids Operator Music Band (another personal fave that I co-produced/recorded/mixed), and two records that I mastered: noise-punks Weeping Icon’s self-titled debut and Dehd’s stellar breakup-pop LP Water.
Gimme Tinitus‘s Best of 2019 also featured Gong Gong Gong, Operator Music Band, and Weeping Icon, as well as Brooklyn noise-rock duo ESSi and their mind-bending debut Vital Creatures (which I co-produced/recorded/mixed/mastered).
Perhaps the most touching was seeing Parquet Courts in a number of Best of the Decade lists. The albums I produced with them (and Light Up Gold in particular) launched the band’s career, and were massively important for me and my trajectory as a producer/engineer. In the seven years since Light Up Gold was first released, I’ve watched their popularity and stature steadily rise, as their name became a short-hand comparison for literate, catchy punk bands. Nevertheless, it was humbling and exciting to see Light Up Gold rank #16 in Rolling Stone (and #2 in writer Rob Sheffield’s personal list), #37 in BrooklynVegan (and #7 in writer Bill Pearis’ personal list), #39 in AV Club, #41 in Treble, #78 in Vice, and #80 in Stereogum; Sunbathing Animal rank #140 in Pitchfork; and their break-out single “Stoned and Starving” rank #16 in Rolling Stone and #89 in Stereogum.
Snail Mail’s Lush also graced a number of these Best of 2010s lists. I helped to record the album, which was produced & mixed by my studio partner Jake Aron. Lush was undoubtedly important not just to the music culture of the last couple years, but also to our work: it was the first album tracked in the new Outlier Inn (where I’ve recorded many albums since Sunbathing Animal in the studio’s previous setup), and the first album mixed in our own Studio Windows. Lush ranked #48 in Stereogum and #122 in Pitchfork, and its lead-single “Pristine” ranked #87 in Stereogum and #97 in Pitchfork.
One last thing I almost missed: Catherine – the short film & web series by Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp (the minds behind Marcel The Shell With Shoes On) was featured in Vulture’s Favorite Comedy Moments of the Decade. I don’t do much for sound-for-film these days, but this was certainly a highlight for me, and I’m happy to see it still getting some (admittedly confused) love.
I’m looking forward to 2020, with the debut album Person by my new group P.E. scheduled in March, alongside albums I’ve produced for Pottery, Public Practice, Dougie Poole, and Brandy also arriving this spring. Regardless of how arbitrary Best Of lists can seem, it does feel like a great way to start off the new year & decade…. thanks for reading & listening.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!!! I’m so thrilled to be starting 2014! 2013 was great and all, but there is so much to look forward to over the next few months, I don’t know where to begin…
… maybe with Catherine playing at Sundance this year? I mixed and designed the sound for this short film version of the series by Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer Camp (who also made Marcel the Shell). I’m working on some new shorts with them now, which are just as mind-numbingly weird and funny.
… or maybe with the preview screening of The Poisoner on January 10th at Lincoln Hall? It’s the strange and beautiful second feature film by my friend Chris Hefner, which we mixed last month at my studio in Brooklyn – check out the official trailer. Daniel Knox provided an alluring score, and will be performing live at the screenings. I highly recommend all Chicagoans reading this to buy tickets for this screening.
… I know! Maybe with the release of the remix of “Sorrow” I made for Frankie Rose! I mixed it at Doctor Wu’s, based on a string arrangement by Grayson Sanders of Snowmine, with my studio partner Yale Yng-Wong executing a beautiful Moog bass part before taking a nap.
… but I should probably first just take a few moments to reflect on how great 2013 was. Sure, it had its difficult bits, but I had opportunity after opportunity to make and do good work with good people. I spent a month in India; travelled around the states with friends, family, and colleagues; made an album with my boy Bob Jones (EATERS 2014 BABY!); made lots of new friends; and did some of the best work of my life. I can only hope that things will continue that way in 2014.
… and I have to spend a minute marveling at the success of Parquet Courts and Light Up Gold. These guys have become really close friends of mine over the last couple years since we banged this out in their practice space, and I couldn’t be happier about everything coming their way. Their music made countless year-end lists – from Pitchfork (Light Up Gold, “Stoned and Starving”, and the cover art) and Rolling Stone (Light Up Gold, “Stoned and Starving”, and writer/VH1-talking-head Rob Sheffield’s personal list), to NPR (Sound Opinions’ numbers 1 and 2 top album) and Associated Press, to Other Music and Amoeba Music – pretty much everyone loved it. And who could forget Tally All the Things That You Broke? Its release sealed the deal, as far as I’m concerned. We’re going upstate tomorrow to finish recording the new record at Outlier Inn – fingers crossed that people will love it too.
I hope everyone has something to look forward to in the coming months! Thanks for reading, and please write if you’d like to talk about sound – jonathan.schenke[at]gmail.com
I’ve been doing a bit of mastering over the last few weeks. I mixed and mastered an epic collaborative “transnational blues” jam with Alex from Dirty Beaches and Josh and Simon from Hot & Cold. I blended a field recorded and iphone recording, which turned out really cool, and mastered it at my home studio.
I transferred and remastered the out-of-print Blunt Instrumental 2 tape by Tyvek for re-release on Dull Tools. Wild shit! She Speaks in Tongues from Chicago also had me master their record recently, which should see release in early 2014.
As the year wraps up, out come the year-end lists. I’m beyond thrilled to see my boys Parquet Courts up there already… Light Up Gold has so far made it onto lists by Rolling Stone (#11) and Paste Magazine (#23), and the cover made it to Pitchfork’s best album art (#15). I’m psyched to see what else is in store for the record, and can barely wait to head up to Outlier Inn in the new year to finish the next record!
I’m wrapping the year with a couple film projects (with my good friend from Chicago Chris Hefner, and loveable weirdos Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate of Catherine and Marcel the Shell renown/infamy), and continuing to prep for Eaters to come out next year. Thanks for checking things out… holler at me if you wanna talk sound: jonathan[dot]schenke [at] gmail[dot]com
The Apocalypse is happening at South By Southwest! After premiering at this year’s Sundance festival, the short by Andrew Zuchero (which I sound designed and mixed) will be part of the Midnight Shorts program. I’ve never been to the film festival part of SXSW, and am really looking forward to being a part of it! There’s another project (still under wraps) that I mixed debuting at SXSW, and I’m really excited to see 12 O’Clock Boys, which is currently doing a fundraising campaign to finish post production…. help out if you can!
I’m sticking around for the music festival to hang with my boys Parquet Courts, who are playing a buttload of shows this year. The love for Light Up Gold keeps flowing, with prominent voices like Rolling Stone, NPR, The Guardian, Village Voice, and Sound Opinion’s Jim DeRegotis showing their enthusiasm. Can’t wait to do some more recording with them soon.
Wild Leaves are releasing a 12″ EP on March 26th called Wind & Rain. We recorded this to a Tascam 388 upstate in a quonset hut leading up to Hurricane Sandy, which was a totally fun and bizarre experience. They’ve debuted the title track, which has already got some nice press… check out this review and interview. The artwork is hand-drawn and assembled, and it sounds like it will be one of those lovingly-crafted packages that will be a treat to pull out and listen to.
I recently mastered an EP for Chicago buddies Thin Hymns recently called Black Water. It’s for a cassette/download release coming out soon… really cool stuff!
The new Forest Fire record – tentatively titled Monorail – is currently being mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Mastering. Listening through this album again got me soooooo so excited – I can’t wait for everyone to hear this one. It will be released later this year on Fat Cat, and check out these photos of us recording in the meantime.
The new Sweet Talk record Pickup Lines got some serious love from one of my all-time record store and Chicago homies, Permanent Records: “YES!!! REAL IN YOUR FACE ROCK N ROLL GOODNESS, we couldn’t agree more. Fans of the Bad Sports / Mind Spiders / OBN IIIs / ViDEO tangle of Austin garage / punk bands will no doubt need to grab Sweet Talk’s Pickup Lines. But those who, like us, have an affinity / addiction to loud catchy guitar rock along the lines of Dinosaur Jr, Redd Kross, Pavement and the Makers definitely won’t need to get sweet talked into grabbing Pickup Lines. This is a rowdy rock n roll time just like those other great Lone Star state heroes, Moving Sidewalks, ZZ Top and 13th Floor Elevators. So crank up the volume and get ready to have a blast. We nabbed a stack of the super limited white vinyl version (only 100 pressed), so don’t sleep on it. SWEETLY RECOMMENDED.” Hell yeah!
And I totally spaced on posting this earlier, but The Keepsies got a 7″ pressing of the Dumb Fun single on Chrome Waves Records and a review from Impose Magazine. The Keepsies are Austin from Parquet Courts, Jason from Fergus & Geronimo, and Vince of His Own Bad Self… I love these songs, and there are a bunch more where they came from. Pick up a copy of one here while you can!
I’ve got a bunch of cool stuff on the horizons, and I’ve added a bunch of links to different projects throughout this site, so please feel free to check things out. Write me at jonathan.schenke [at] gmail.com if you’d like to chat, and THANKS FOR READING!
Most humbling of all, the band named ME one of the best things in 2012 in Pitchfork’s year-end Guest List…. I’m blushing now as I type this…. I can’t wait to see what else is in store for these guys this year – we were already thrilled with the work we had done and looking forward to the next one, but now more so than ever. Hold onto yr butts.
Sweet Talk‘s new album Pickup Lines is out now on Gerald Cosloy’s (of Matador Records and Homestead Records fame) label 12XU. I was introduced to these guys through the Parquet Courts and Wiccans albums, and mixed the record this past fall. Think “the best parts of Cheap Trick, early UK power pop and the dual guitar work of Thin Lizzy.” There’s a video for the song “Last Dance” above, and you can stream the title track over at the label’s Soundcloud page.
I’ve been doing a lot of sound design work recently, working on a feature and a couple shorts, including The Apocalypse by Andrew Zuchero, which just debuted at Sundance Film Festival. Sundance has shared the short (along with a handful of others) in its entirety, which you can stream above! It’s been really fun digging into these projects, and while some of the info on the others is still hush-hush, we’re really hoping to be screening and premiering them at festivals soon… I’ll keep you posted!
One of the sound design projects I worked on last year, Reggie Watts‘ A Live in Central Park (for Comedy Central), made it onto Vulture’s Top 10 Stand-Up Specials. It was a really fun project to work on – the director Duncan Skiles did an amazing job blending all these different elements together – and I hope more people get a chance to see it!
2013 is already shaping up to be an amazing year! I’ve got a number of exciting projects coming up over the next couple months, and a number of projects I did in 2012 should be coming out soon… I’m seriously excited. If you wanna get in touch, please just write me at jonathan.schenke[at]gmail.com – thanks, as always, for reading this!
I got some exciting news this week: The Apocalypse – a short film by Andrew Zuchero, which I sound-designed and mixed – will be premiering at Sundance in January! It was such a fun project to work on, and I think it turned out truly great… I’m very happy about this. “Four uninspired friends try to come up with a terrific idea for how to spend their Saturday afternoon”, starring Martin Starr from Party Down and Freaks and Geeks and Ella Rae Peck of Gossip Girl fame.
Since their signing, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Kevin, the owner of WYR and all-around cool guy. One project he brought me on board for is a restoration of a recording by Brett Smiley. I was unfamiliar with who this was, but Kevin schooled me pretty quickly – teenage glam heart-throb who worked with Del Shannon and then Andrew Loog Oldham, recorded a LP, then had it shelved for 30 years. The album Breathlessly Brett was finally released in 2004, but these tapes are from before then, when Brett was working with Del Shannon (of Runaway fame). It features 5 recordings done with Shannon (3 of which are previously unreleased) and some unheard demos…. needless to say, it’s been a cool project to work on.
Another recording to recently resurface is the original Hindu Windmills by Elephant Micah. Joe O’Connell (E.M.) and I recorded this eight(!) years ago, late at night in a performance hall on the Northwestern campus, while we were working on the Mittens on Strings album Look Up the Sky!! (another album worth revisiting). Joe wasn’t thrilled with his performances, and as we were discussing what to do with them, a mutual friend accidentally leaked the mixes, which quickly spread across the Internet. In response, Joe re-recorded the songs himself, which were released a couple years later on Time Lag. As the years have passed and water has flowed under the bridges, Joe decided to put our sessions online for posterity. I found the original mixes, did a quick remaster, and they are now available online for a donation as the Hindu Windmills: First Sessions. I have to say that while I can hear the tiredness at times, and that I will always be disappointed that these songs leaked the way they did, I’m really pleased to have them properly out in the world now – they’re great recordings of wonderful songs.
If you’re free tonight and around the NYC area, come to Glasslands to celebrate the release of Fort Lean’s new EP Change Your Name, and see why the New York Times recently gushed: “Three or four decades ago, Fort Lean would have been a mainstream success spawning emulators. Nowadays it’s a one of one, not that anyone should bother trying to compete.” Patrick from Chairlift (who produced the EP) will be DJing, and Ludwig Persik (who recently released an awesome self-titled EP) and Cruiser open.
Thanks so much for reading through this! I sincerely hope you like this stuff as much as I sincerely do. If you’d like to talk about sound or come check out Doctor Wu’s, please drop me a line: jonathan[dot]schenke[at]gmail[dot]com
I just finished mixing the new record by Forest Fire for Fat Cat Records this weekend. We started the initial recording two months ago in mid-September at Tree Time Studio, which was awesome. Since then, we’ve been doing overdubs and mixing at Doctor Wu’s, with some preliminary editing and mixing at my place. I’m really excited about this record, my first proper producer credit! It’s a good batch of catchy songs with inventive arrangements, with some krautrock and glam flair… I really tried to channel my Inner Eno on this one. I can’t wait for people to hear this.
A couple weeks ago, I did sound design and mixing for a short film called The Apocalypse. It stars Martin Starr (from Party Down and Freaks and Geeks) and Ella Rae Peck (of Gossip Girl fame), and was written and directed by Andrew Zuchero. It’s about the end of the world (duh), and was so much fun to work on. I don’t want to spoil things, but some of the sounds I was doing Foley for were pretty unbelievable The Apocalypse will hopefully be making the rounds on the festival circuit this spring.
I also worked with Andrew last month on a series of Intel spots, which you can view at the Intel Ultrabook site. It’s really hard and fun to do sound design with no music!!
The new Fort Lean EP Change Your Name is out tomorrow. I co-engineered some of the sessions (the initial drum/bass sessions and some guitar overdubs) along with Jake Aron from the band (and Doctor Wu’s). It was produced by Patrick Wimberly from Chairlift, and mixed by Michael Brauer – pretty fucking hi-fi! Check out a couple songs on Stereogum and MTV.
I recently had the opportunity to do another recording upstate, this time with the band Wild Leaves. We borrowed my friend Austin’s Tascam 388 to record an EP in a quonset hut, and spent a long weekend recording and hanging out by the campfire. It was a great camp-out style adventure, until Hurricane Sandy came and I ran back to Brooklyn!
Before that, I worked with Jeffrey Gray Somers on an EP of solo material. We did the basic tracking at Seaside Lounge, and are wrapping up vocals and mixing at Doctor Wu’s in the next few weeks. It was awesome to be back at Seaside Lounge (were we did Funky Was the State of Affairs), and it’ll be cool to work some Wu magic to the tracks. You can hear some of his stuff as Jung Bulls on Last.FM
I also recently mastered the new I Ching Quartet record Birdsongs at Doctor Wu’s. I worked on a few of their records back in Chicago, and I can say with certainty it’s their best yet.
If you haven’t heard the new Parquet Courts LP Light Up Gold yet, do it now. We tracked it back in February on a Tascam 388 (3 days), mixed it at my place (2 days), and I mastered it after the first one got messed up (1/2 day). I’ve been a total fan of the LP since we started working on it – it’s one of the best punk records I’ve heard in a long time – and it’s awesome to see all the attention its been getting since it came out in August. Check out all the kind words from Pitchfork, Stereogum (it’s in their Heavy Rotation), eMusic and Aquarium Drunkard that I’ve seen recently.
Another record that’s been getting some (well-deserved) love is Field II by Wiccans. I mixed it at Doctor Wu’s this summer, and it’s just an awesome, heavy, brainy beast of a hardcore record. The AV Club just nominated it the second best Loud album of the month and called it “one of the most intriguing, ambitious, ass-kicking hardcore records of the year”. They’re almost sold out of the first pressing (which will hopefully be repressed, because they’re beautiful objects), which you can buy (or download for free) here.
I’ve got lots of cool stuff on the calendar, which I’m really looking forward to. If you ever want to check out Doctor Wu’s or just talk about sound stuff, hit me up: jonathan [dot] schenke [at] gmail [dot] com. And thanks, as always, for taking the time to read this.
Light Up Gold, the new album by Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts, is out now on gold-colored vinyl and digital download from Dull Tools. We tracked this on a Tascam 388 in the late-winter, and I mixed and mastered it at my personal studio…. we are all really proud of how it turned out – solid performances of cool songs, great tones and good vibes, and the sequencing and design & packaging (by the band’s A. Savage) really seal the deal.
If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, go to their bandcamp page now, or just man up and buy an LP before they run out of the gold ones!
Austin Brown, one of the guitarists from Parquet Courts, has a new band called the Keepsies, who just released their first digital single Dumb Fun. It’s some of the best straight-up pop/rock I’ve heard in a loooong time, inspired by classic 60’s and 70’s sounds and nailing it wholeheartedly. The title track will totally get you going, and you’ll swoon by the end of the closer “Saturday”.
The band is a bunch of fellow Texan ex-pats: Austin, Vince McClelland and Jason Kelly (from Fergus & Geronimo and Wax Museums). Jason recorded these songs (and others) on Austin’s Tascam 388 (same one as the Parquet Courts record, fyi), with Austin and I recording a bunch of overdubs. I then mixed it at my place, with a final pass through at Doctor Wu’s. It’s amazing what you can do sometimes with only 8 tracks…
The Keepsies have two more singles on deck for later this year, and hopefully some live performances sooner rather than later! Expect to be hearing a lot more about these guys….
… and as always, thanks for stopping by and checking out my shit. Please reach out if you wanna chat: jonathan.schenke[at]gmail.com
I spent this past weekend working with Frankie Rose and her awesome band. I hadn’t worked with them for almost 10 months, and it was great to be back with the gang. We did a show at Prospect Park in Brooklyn with Little Dragon, which was recorded and rebroadcast by NPR. It’s always a little strange to hear a board feed after the fact, but I was really pleased with how it sounded. Check out the whole thing here on the NPR Music site. We’re doing a short tour this September too, for those of you in the midwest and east coast!
Lost Coast, a record by Ryan Daniel Hammer that I mastered last year, was recently pressed to vinyl. It’s a really good ambient record, dark but also melodic… very cool. The video for “888” is above, you can stream and download the whole record on his bandcamp, and purchase an LP directly from Positive Beat Recordings.
I recently mastered Rosenwasser, the new LP by Pittsburgh’s Psychic Boots. It’s a weird and wooly journey of art rock and damaged psychedelia. I’m not really sure where to begin with comparisons… just check out some rough mixes from the record on their bandcamp page, or their Junk Food EP.
I’m really psyched for this Saturday, when Parquet Courts are having a record release show for Light Up Gold at Death By Audio in Brooklyn. I’m so proud of that record – it was a blast to make and turned out incredible – and really excited for everyone to hear it. Andrew and Austin from the band did an interview recently on East Village Radio to hype the show, which is pretty rad. I’ve got plenty more to say about it next week when it drops, but in the meantime you can stream and pre-order the LP on their bandcamp page, and check out the video for the title track above.
Thanks for checking all this jibberish out, hope you like some of it, and feel free to say “hey” at jonathan.schenke[at]gmail.com.