Happy New Year & Decade!

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 AronLush 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.

Machinegum – the NYC neo-new-wave quintet led by Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes – has released their debut album Conduit.   The album was produced by Fab and my studio partner Jake Aron, recorded at Outlier Inn and Figure 8, mixed by Jake, myself and Andrew Maury, and mastered by Heba Kadry.  There’s quite a range here, from softer crooners to abstract synth-rock and everything in between, and features contributions by Delicate Steve and Ian Devaney of Nation of LanguageStereogum published this thoughtful review of the album to alert the world of its release; Conduit is on all streaming services now via Frenchkiss Records.

 

Lush, the debut record from teenage indie-pop sensations Snail Mail, is out now on Matador Records.  I recorded this album at Outlier Inn and Doctor Wu’s with Jake Aron, who also produced and mixed the record.  Fun fact: Lush was the the first record recorded in the new Studio A at Outlier Inn, the first record mixed at Studio Windows (the new studio started by me and Jake), and one of the last records worked on at Doctor Wu’s before it closed.  Joe LaPorta mastered the record at Sterling Sound.

Lush has been greeted with near-universal acclaim from Best New Music (and a score of 8.7) on Pitchfork; to features in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe; to reviews in nearly every music-related publication, and many non-musical ones as well.  Check it out if you haven’t already!

“Pristine”, the first single from Snail Mail‘s upcoming LP Lush, was just awarded “Best New Track” by Pitchfork.  The album was produced by my studio partner Jake Aron, which I helped record at Outlier Inn (in Woodridge, NY, on their Neve VR) and our old studio Doctor Wu’s (in Brooklyn, NY).  I’m very happy to have been a part of this record, and very proud of the band and Jake for the work they put into this gorgeous work.  Lush comes out June 8 on Matador Records.

Photo by Bryan Regan

Matador Records – the massively influential label and a personal longtime favorite – announced today that they’ve signed Snail Mail to their roster.  I went upstate last month to the newly re-designed and re-opened Outlier Inn (where I also recorded Parquet Courts’ Sunbathing Animal and Honduras’ Rituals) with the band and Jake Aron (my studio partner and the album’s producer) to do the basic tracking.  It sounds fantastic – the studio’s fun and beautiful, and the songs are a great progression from the first EP.  Jake’s mixing it this fall – it will be a good one!

New music by Parquet Courts, the Drums, PC Worship, Turn to Crime, The Britanys, Dougie Poole, Operator Music Band and more…

To kick things off, Parquet Courts‘ collaboration with Bun B finally came out!  They debuted this version of “Captive of the Sun” on Colbert last summer with members of PC Worship, Blues Control, and my bandmate Bob Jones.  Austin Brown and I went into Doctor Wu’s shortly after that to put together this remix, which has a chopped n’ screwed version by DJ Candlestick and OG Ron C on the B-side.  Pitchfork premiered the track, along with a Houston rap playlist by Young Doc Gooden (fka Austin Brown)… so proud to still have my 713- number.  Pick it up on limited-edition LP via Rough Trade, and check out the lyric video below.

I was also super excited to see the premiere of The Drums‘ new single “Blood Under My Belt”.  Pitchfork premiered the song last week, as the first single from the new record “Abysmal Thoughts”.  Bandleader Jonny Pierce and I worked together last summer at Doctor Wu’s, disassembling his demos and rebuilding them into something else entirely.  I’m really happy to have recorded and mixed this album, and I can’t wait for more of it to be released.  Mastered by Joe LaPorta at Sterling Sound, “Abysmal Thoughts” will be released in June on Anti-.

PC Worship – one of my favorite groups going – released their new album Buried Wish, which I had the pleasure to master and help sequence with Justin Frye.  All of the PC Worship records (and many PC Worship songs) have their own series of detours and digressions, which is particularly true of this album – it veers from ornate horn arrangements to grunge-sludge stomp to acoustic/field recording meanderings and everywhere else in between.  Hopefully you caught them on tour with Naomi Punk, but either way you should catch them next month with The Dreebs.  Check out the great press in Pitchfork, Noisey, and Clrvynt, and pick up Buried Wish on Northern Spy now.

My fellow electro-rock weirdos Turn to Crime released their latest (fourth? sixth?) record Secondary in early February.  Derek Stanton records all of the music himself at his own Molten Sound studio in Detroit, and you can hear that freedom of creativity and amazing collection of gear throughout each of his records.  Secondary, which I mixed and Sarah Register mastered last year, is my personal favorite – “Chasing”, “Dead Man”, and the title track are all undeniable gems.  Check out these features on Noisey and Brooklyn Vegan, and pick up the record through Mugg and Bopp.

Bushwick rock+rollers The Britanys released their debut EP Five A Side, which premiered with an enthusiastic NME review. We recorded these songs in two different sessions, deciding in the end to go with the stripped-down basement recordings for this EP – they just rocked harder!  Check them out at SXSW, and stream/purchase Five A Side from the group’s Bandcamp.

Electronic country-crooner Dougie Poole released his debut LP Wideass Highway on JMC Aggregate.  I mixed and mastered this strange and beautiful record last year, and was happy to see it featured in both FADER and Ad Hoc. Do yourself a favor and pick it up at Dougie’s Bandcamp.

Fuzzy synth rockers Operator Music Band‘s debut LP Puzzlephonics I & II came out last week.  The album pairs two EPs (recorded by band member Dara Hirsch) which we mixed and mastered at Doctor Wu’s last fall.  Stereogum and Brooklyn Vegan both featured the group, who is heading out on tour this week toward SXSW. Pick up a copy now on New Professor Music, and stream it below.

My German indie-rock buddies Behave! released a video for “Someone”, the first single from the record we did last summer in Hannover.  It was a pleasure working with the group over there on a Studer A800 with a bunch of vintage German mics, and I’m really happy with the results, which I mixed and mastered back in NYC.  If you read German, you may enjoy this interview on Diffus, but even if you don’t, you’ll probably enjoy the song (it’s in English).

NYC alterna-singer-songwriter Tica Douglas’ new single “The Same Thing” was recently released.  The Wild Honey Pie and Gold Flake Paint both featured the track, which I mixed and mastered as part of the new record Our Lady Star of the Sea, Help and Protect Us.  2014’s Joey was released to great reviews, and I’m excited that this one will be released on Team Love later in May.  Stay tuned…

In a similarly off-kilter-folk vein, Dark Tea’s debut EP was released last month.  I mastered this for Gary Canino, who also plays in the fierce NYC punk band Rips.  CLRVYNT  wrote about the EP, and you can purchase it on Bandcamp.

And Brian Chillemi (also of shredders Junk Boys) released a video single for the new song “Child of the Earth” (which I mastered).  Read about it on Impose, and buy the track on Bandcamp.

Also released: Eventide debuted their new plugin ‘Fission‘.  It’s the first in their line of “Structural Effects”, which separates the transient and tonal information of a source, and allows you to effect each separately.  I consulted with the designers Russ & Tom and my friend Joe Waltz early on in the process of development, and contributed a handful of presents to the plugin.  Check out this explanation here and download the demo now!

I spent some time upstate this past month, checking out the progress on the incredible new control room at Outlier Inn (where I recorded Parquet Courts’ Sunbathing Animal and Honduras’ Rituals).  I always loved visiting and working at the space, but with this new room (designed by Wes Lachot) and new console (Tom Elmhirst’s modified Neve VR 72), it’s going to be a truly incredible place to make a record.  I can’t wait for the opening this May.

I also spent some time with Acid Dad, recording and co-producing their debut LP.  We recorded the basics to my Otari MX-5050 at their studio upstate, and mixed it in Brooklyn at Doctor Wu’s.  It’s a fierce and fun album – I’m excited for people to hear this one.  Check them out later this month on the road with Honduras.

One last thing:  I posted a new Soundcloud playlist too, if you’re interested in hearing a mix of different things I’ve worked on.

Thanks for reading all of this!