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.

Doctor Wu's

I had no idea I was a producer you don’t even know you know until I came across this article by Brooklyn Magazine last week.  I’m listed along with such fantastic engineers as Jarvis Taveniere (great guy and fellow MX-5050 enthusiast), Chris Coady, and Shane Stoneback.  Thanks guys – you made my week!

I just finished a new record by NYC punks/goons Nuclear Santa Claust called Je Ne Sais Claust (yes, really).  We tracked it live to the Otari MX-5050 at Seaside Lounge one weekend and mixed and mastered it the next at Doctor Wu’s.  It was a total blast to work on, and a total blast out of the speakers – we harnessed a great Black Flag/Dead Kennedys vibe in sound and intensity, and cracked each other up constantly.  I can’t wait for this to come out on Don Giovanni Records.

 

I’ve also been working on a heart-felt documentary/portrait of Gil Scott Heron.  Told from the perspective of candid interviews with his closest friends and associates, it’s less of a biography and more of a tribute to a departed friend.  It was directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, whose excellent current film 20,000 Days on Earth (a pseudo-doc starring/about Nick Cave) premiered at Sundance and will in theaters nation-wide next month.  I feel very honored to be mixing this film.

I was back in Chicago a couple weeks ago to work again at Pitchfork Music Festival.  I realized it was my eighth year working for the festival, and fifth running sound on the Blue Stage – whoa.  It’s always good to be back with the old crew and see a bunch of old buddies in the Midwest, and it’s the only front-of-house system I’ve ever seen with a Crane Song limiter – I love mixing on that system!  Bonus: in the airport, I came across this two-page article on Parquet Courts in the July issue of Rolling Stone!

PC Worship - Social Rust

I am thrilled to be able to share some music from the new PC Worship record Social Rust.  Pitchfork (and Stereogum and Impose) posted the semi-title track ‘Rust’ last week, to pretty unanimous excitement.  I mixed and mastered this record earlier in the year with lead-Worshipper Justin Frye (who recorded it at Roulette), and we blew each other away with what we came up with.  It’s honestly one of my favorite records I’ve worked on recently, by one of my favorite bands playing, so hold on to your butts.  Social Rust comes out September 9th on Northern Spy / Dull Tools.

 

Another skronk-tastic record I have to share is Jungle Green Meets the Blood Sisters.  Andrew/Jungle Green has worked with me to master his last few releases at Doctor Wu’s, and it’s been really fascinating to hear the growth and diversity of his music.  He’s released two singles of lo-fi doo-wop crooner jams with Kingfisher Bluez, but this new EP is a concentrated burst of no-wave-y freakouts focused around food and girls, featuring The Books‘ Paul de Jong on cello tantrums.  It’s a free download, and worth every penny!

 

And while we’re talking about guys upset about food and girls, I’d like to point out that The Last of the Great Romantics is now available online!  I mixed this film with director Duncan Skiles last fall, and it made the festival circuit earlier this year.  I’m a big fan of this rom-com – it’s clever and funny in an endearingly humble way, and as they point out on their site, cheaper than a cup of coffee!  Check it out!

 

Eaters is playing next week (August 13th) at Nothing Changes (formerly Weird Wednesdays) at Home Sweet Home in Manhattan.  We’ve got a new song in the reportoire, so come hang if you’ve got nothing better to do on a Wednesday night!  We play first, Future Blondes headline.

Thanks for reading this!  I’ve got a lot of great projects on deck, will post more when I can… feel free to reach out at jonathan[dot]schenke [at] gmail[dot]com

Eaters Live @ Moogfest

So, many things…. first of all, thanks to everyone who came out to or helped put together any of the Eaters shows.  The tour was great – nothing like driving around the midwest with one of your best friends, playing music you’re excited about, meeting new people, and hearing a bunch of interesting sounds along the way.  The album’s out now on Driftless Recordings/Dull Tools.

Sunbathing Ani-Mania continues!  Parquet Courts recently debuted their new Stooge-y single ‘Black and White’  on Late Night with Seth Meyers [spoiler alert: Fred Armisen jumps onstage for the feedback solo, but Austin upstages him anyway] and released the album version the next day (stream it up above).  Slow-burner ballad ‘Instant Disassembly’ surfaced last week, and immediately grabbed a Best New Track nod from Pitchfork (stream that down below).  Sunbathing Animal is out June 3rd on What’s Your Rupture/Rough Trade.

I’ve been working with artist/director Thu Tran on a series of games for the new Tinkham Veale student center at Case Western Reserve University (where I went to school and met Thu… trippy).  The six Cleveland-inspired games are displayed on a 30′ LED screen in the middle of the main atrium, and are played through a motion-controlled Kinect sensor… so basically you’re just jumping around or punching the air in front of this giant video wall.  Since the installation is designed to run continuously in a public space, Thu and I decided to treat the sound design as a sort of generative ambient music…. something that registers to a participant as reacting to them, and that can also blend pleasantly into the background for everyone else in the space.  I’ve always enjoyed working with Thu (like on her shows Food Party and The Misguided Guide to the Origin of Everything), and it was a pleasure to collaborate with Ivan Safrin (who’s designed such bonkers games as Space Cruiser, a flight simulator at the Hayden Planetarium, and Sidescroller, where players run around a room with 20 monitors from screen to screen) and Bobo Do (whose work you may have seen projected behind Beyonce once or twice).  There’s an inherent goofiness and giddiness in the games, but there’s also a depth and beauty in everyone’s work that truly amazes me… I can’t wait to play them in the space when the building opens this fall.

Veale Center

I’ve been doing some mastering lately too.  I finished mixing and mastered the new PC Worship record Rust – this thing is unbelievable… just wait.   Jungle Green brought me a couple more damaged crooner tunes for a new single coming out on Kingfisher Bluez, following the Twelve-and-a-half Minutes of the Most Beautiful Love Songs Ever Written EP we worked on last year.  I also worked on an EP for Bordeaux, an off-kilter synth-pop duo mixed by my studio partner Jake Aron at Doctor Wu’s.  I recently mastered a new EP for gloomy doomers Vibrant Light as well.  And I just mastered Girl Talk and Freeway’s ‘Suicide Remix’, featuring A$AP Ferg – a new version of their Add (N) to X-sampling tune off Broken Ankles.

I’m in the middle of a few new projects, but please write me at jonathan[dot]schenke[at]gmail[dot]com if you’d like to talk about sound.  Thank  yeur!!