Spin Band of the Year 2014

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.

 

Honduras @ Outlier Inn

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.

Jonny @ Outlier Inn

Mazes - Wooden Aquarium

Two very different but equally exciting records that I worked on drop this week – Wooden Aquarium by the British band Mazes and Social Rust by Brooklyn’s own PC Worship.  I love the way both of these records sound and I love both of these bands, so it’s wonderful to see so many reviews remarking on the sonic quality and calling them both the best of each band’s work.

I produced the Mazes record this past February, recording it upstate at the Fat Cat studio and mixing it at Doctor Wu’s over the course of two weeks.  It was a crazy bonding experience – everyone jet-lagged (I had just got back from Australia), the rental van getting robbed outside my apartment (my bag with my laptop, hard drives, camera – gone), getting snowed in upstate and digging our way up to the studio – and I think that intensity and camaraderie really comes across.  DIY Magazine has been all over Wooden Aquarium, with a glowing review, an interview with Jack Cooper, and a track-by-track stream and guide; NME gave it a 8/10 review; and it was BBC Radio 6’s Album of the Day last week.  Alan Douches did a great job on the master – this record sounds incredible.  Wooden Aquarium is out now on Fat Cat Records.

PC Worship - Social Rust

Social Rust is just nuts.  I mixed and mastered the thing so I’ve probably heard it more times and more in depth than anyone aside from lead-worshipper Justin Frye, and there are things that still catch me by surprise.  This record sounds unlike any other record I’ve ever worked on – a mud-and-blood spattered, moth-eaten tapestry of absurdity – and I love it.  Ad Hoc interviewed Justin about the record, and Impose Magazine raved: “Social Rust is PC Worship at their very best, even if their best is dissonant and unsettling, voyeuristic and creepy, maniacal and rapturous. Maybe it’s a reflection of the times, or maybe it’s just a good record. Either way, listen to it and lose yourself a little.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Social Rust is out now on Northern Spy / Dull Tools.

Also out this week is the re-release of Mannequin Pussy’s Gypsy Pervert, re-mastered and re-sequenced on vinyl for the first time.  I mixed this with them last year, and it’s killer – I’m really psyched to see it getting another life.  Check out this interview they did with Impose recently, and go see them when they come through your town soon.  Gypsy Pervert is out now on Tiny Engines.

And out next week (September 16th) is the newest single in Famous Class Records’ LAMC series (#13) – Parquet Courts b/w Future Punx.  It’s kinda like the return of Fergus & Geronimo…  “This is Happening Now” was recorded during the Sunbathing Animal sessions and mixed this summer, “Spike Train” was recorded and mixed by Jason Kelly, and I mastered both sides.  All proceeds go to VH1 Save the Music – a non-profit dedicated to music education in public schools.

Parquet Courts also recently released a music video for “Bodies Made Of” recorded live at their show at Sugar Hill Supper Club this summer, and directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard (whose amazing Nick Cave pseudo-doc 20,000 Days on Earth comes out later this month).  I recorded, mixed, and mastered this bad boy too.

I recently went on a road trip to Cleveland to see the opening of the new university center at Case Western Reserve University, which houses Welcome to Cleveland, a new interactive installation I worked on with Thu Tran, Ivan Safrin, and Bobo Do.  It was incredible to see and hear our work in the space, and surreal to be back on my old campus and honored at the opening.  Check out that photo below for an idea of what I’m talking about (that game on screen is inspired by the 1986 Balloon Fest, where your head controls a helicopter and you try to pop as many balloons as possible).  The games were as completely silly and weird in real life as we had hoped, so it was extra exciting to get to work with Thu, Ivan and Bobo on a new game this month.  I’m sure more will be announced about it soon, but it’s even sillier and even weirder than the others.

Welcome to Cleveland

I also had the opportunity this past month to do some sound design and mixing for Mary Harron (director of American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol, and The Notorious Bettie Page).  The short film is part of an upcoming series about the US economy produced by director Morgan Spurlock and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and is a black comedy about the healthcare system.  It was fantastic to be a part of this project, and hey – I learned something too!  The New York Times ran a story about the series, which airs this fall.

I’ve been doing more mastering recently as well, working on a split EP with Tonstartssbandht and Hot & Cold, finishing up the Beech Creeps record from this summer, and mastering a single by Von Hack.

And while I’ve been doing a lot of post-production this month, I did get a chance to break out the MX-5050 with the band Pocket Hercules down at Seaside Lounge.  The tracks sound cool, we’ll be mixing in a couple weeks at Doctor Wu’s.

Eaters have been keeping busy too.  We have a show this Saturday (September 13) with Survive from Austin, TX, an incredible band live by all accounts – get your tickets and come on out!  We’ve got some new material coming out this month, including a track on the newly-announced Driftless Ambient 1 compilation.  And more shows soon, including a tour with Lace Curtain (a Total Control/Rat Columns offshoot) and some CMJ shows.

EATERS - front cover ref

Pitchfork recently ran a review of the Eaters LP, my collaboration with my friend Bob Jones.  There are a lot of great quotes (“the textures on Eaters are beautiful: Grim and subdued but so rich you could raise tomatoes in them”), and it’s honestly just amazing to see our personal project recognized on such a large scale, regardless of the just-ok score and slightly slighting tone.  Mixed emotions for sure, so we spent the rest of the day making a track for an ambient compilation due later this year – can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

Eaters are playing two very different but equally exciting shows in a couple weeks.  The first is Friday July 11th at Glasslands Gallery, opening for !!! – tickets are going fast, but some are still on sale.  If you can’t get a ticket in time or just would prefer to watch synthesizer music on the beach, then you should come to the Brooklyn Vegan/Dull Tools Beach Party!  It’s taking place Sunday July 13th at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, and we’ll be playing alongside our friends Future Punx, Final Bloom, and newcomers Royal Garde.

Brooklyn Vegan/Dull Tools Party Flyer

I’ve seen Future Punx absolutely slay the last couple times they played and they’re some of my best friends around town, so it goes without saying that I had a blast working with them on their new EP I’m So Inspired.  Jason Kelly (funkiest drummer I know and a walking-talking-smiley-face to boot) did a fantastic job of recording and preparing the mixes, which I spruced up and spazzed out at Doctor Wu’s.  It sounds as epic and fun and trippy as you’d want a band called “future punx” singing “see you in the future” to sound – really epic and fun and trippy!  I mastered the thing too, which should drop later this year.

Recording Beech Creeps

And while we’re on the topics of “fun”, “trippy” and “beaches”, I should probably talk about making the new Beech Creeps record.  They’re a trio of dudes who played in bands like Pterodactyl, Ex-Models, and Yeasayer, and the album’s equal parts noisy, catchy, and goofy.  It’s kinda like if the Melvins wrote a record harnessing the good-time riffage of bands like Thin Lizzy and Blue Cheer, which was then turned into a beach-themed Saturday morning cartoon.  We recorded it live at Secret Project Robot and mixed it at my home studio.  Oh, and if you’re a granola-eating hippie like me, you should make a point of trying the Coconut Almond Beach Crunch flavor of Mark’s Monster Crunch.  It’s incredible!!

I started playing and recording music in the midwest, first in Cleveland then in Chicago, and met a lot of amazing musicians along the way.  Among them were a crew of Bloomington, Indiana folks like Elephant Micah, Bronze Float and Vollmar.  It was a nice surprise then to get an email from David Brant of Bronze Float, asking if I’d be interested in mixing and mastering his new album Standard Candles.  It was recorded by Joe O’Connell (aka Elephant Micah), and features performances by members of his old band and Vollmar.  The songs are both deeply melodic and humble, reminiscent of records by Lou Barlow, Skip Spence, and Arthur Russell (in his Love is Overtaking Me vein).  It was wonderful to reconnect with David, and I’m just happy to have played a part in getting these songs out there and restarting this project.

Fa Bonx 7"

I also recently mixed and mastered the new single by glam-punk duo Fa Bonx.  I really dug working on their first single (‘Jilto Boy’ b/w ‘The Rinda’ on What’s Your Rupture?), but this new one blew me away!  I found this review of ‘The Rinda’ up on Pitchfork (“an immediately gratifying burner… wide-eyed, candy coated rock’n’roll”), and they recently did a hilarious interview with CMJ.

Mazes - Wooden Aquarium

I’m thrilled to be able to share this first song “Astigmatism” (via Spin) from the upcoming Mazes record Wooden Aquarium, due September 9th on Fat Cat.  We recorded this upstate at the Fat Cat studio to 2″ 16-track tape in the middle of multiple blizzards, and mixed it over at Doctor Wu’s.  It was a wonderful experience, walking away from the sessions with not only an incredible sounding record, but some really good new friends as well.  I miss these guys, damn Atlantic Ocean…  Heather Strange from Future Punx and I did backing vocals on this record, and Teenage Cool Kid/fantastic painter Bradley Kerl did the artwork.

 

And Parquet Courts continue to bring in the accolades, from Rolling Stone naming ‘Raw Milk’ the number 1 song-of-the-year-so-far, to a write-up in the Guardian, to a review on NPR’s Fresh Air.  If you haven’t heard Sunbathing Animal yet, me and everyone else don’t know what you’re waiting for.

Also: Careers, the Beverly record by my friends Frankie Rose and Drew Citron., is out this week on Kanine Records.  I did some tracking with them early on in the process, and to be honest, I’m not sure how much of it made the final cut…. drums on 4-5 songs, some vocals I think, maybe some guitars and bass?  Regardless, it’s a fun blast of Amps-style buzzy pop music with gorgeous harmonies, mixed by my studio partner Yale Yng-Wong at Doctor Wu’s.

Eaters Press Photo - FINAL

The Fader recently premiered the first single from Eaters, my new project with my buddy Bob Jones.  The song’s called “Far”, and my good friend and associate Chris Hefner (director of The Poisoner and The Pink Hotel) just completed a mind-blowing video for the track, which should hit soon.  The (self-titled) album comes out April 15th through Driftless Recordings and Dull Tools, and I can’t wait for people to hear it.  If you can’t wait either, come check us out this Friday (March 7th) at Death By Audio with Future Punx for their 7″ release show (which incidentally I mixed and mastered).

We just wrapped up the new Parquet Courts record last week, and it’s every bit as satisfying and exciting as you might imagine.  We worked on this puppy for about 10 months, across three recording sessions in two different studios (Seaside Lounge and Outlier Inn), with two different mix sessions plus a final stems tweak at Doctor Wu’s.  It was a serious undertaking, but listening through the record with the band last week was so incredibly rewarding – it was seriously everything we wanted it to be…. and the (multitude of) outtakes are badass too!!   The record’s being mastered by Joe LaPorta at Sterling Sound as I write this, and will be released this summer by What’s Your Rupture/Rough Trade.

PC - SBA sheet music

But you won’t need to wait that long to hear what we’ve been working on!  As Spin just announced, the band is dropping the first song from the LP on Record Store Day, aka April 19th.  The single consists of “Sunbathing Animal” (the LP’s titular track), and non-album b-side “Pilgrims to Nowhere”, both of which have worked their way into the band’s live sets over the past year.  Check out the sheet music/cover art above, or download it here if you wanna give it a whirl.

Jonny digging

I also spent a couple weeks working with the lovely London lads Mazes recently, producing/recording/mixing their new LP for Fat Cat Records.  We went upstate to Adam Pierce (aka Mice Parade’s) studio Tree Time for the tracking (which is where I also recorded Screens by Forest Fire for Fat Cat).  It was a real bonding experience, between a theft, getting snowed in multiple times (see above), and the awesome record we made together.  Jack from the band came back to Brooklyn with me, we ate chilaquiles and pizza, and mixed the record at Doctor Wu’s.  It’s a really cool record, and I’m excited for people to hear it later this year.

I have many projects that I am very excited about coming up soon, so please check back if you’re interested.  Please contact me if you’d like to talk about sound (jonathan.schenke[at]gmail.com), and thanks for reading!

So I just wrapped up two weeks straight in the studio with Parquet Courts on their new new album.  It’s madness.  I’ve never worked so hard or gotten in so deep as I did on this one – we really pushed ourselves this time.  They’re back on the road now (at Austin City Limits, then on a European tour with Mazes, who I’ll be working with on their new album next year), and we’ll finish this beast next month.

Their current new EP, Tally All the Things That You Broke is out now! Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NME, and just about everyone else is praising the EP, and the band packed Music Hall of Williamsburg for their record release show.  Now you can check out this video for “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now” by my buddy Thu Tran.  I’m really excited that this EP is out now – we had a blast working on it, and it’s a great step forward… just wait until you hear the new one.


My friends and associates Forest Fire also got a nice write-up from Pitchfork and played their record release show for their fantastic album Screens.  They also have a new video for the release; bassist Galen Bremer made a creepy psyched-out collage for “Cold Kind”.


Another band I worked with recently also just celebrated their record release: the ever- ferocious Mannequin Pussy!  You can stream their kick-in-the-nuts of an album Gypsy Pervert and check out their tour dates at their bandcamp page. Go see ’em!


And chances are, you may have seen them around town – they played both the Parquet Courts and Mannequin Pussy record release shows – but have you heard the twitchy dance punk of Future Punx on record??  You can now!  Check it out!!


 

In the meantime, I’m working on this.

Thanks for stopping by – please feel free to hit me up at jonathan[dot]schenke[at]gmail[dot]com if you wanna talk sound!