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.

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

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.

Sunbathing Animal Artwork

I’ve been slow to update recently, but in case you hadn’t noticed:  Sunbathing Animal, the new full length by Parquet Courts, is out now!

The New York Times wrote a large feature about the group leading up to the release (in which I am briefly quoted!), as did the Washington Post, Pitchfork, Grantland, and Stereogum.  Reviews have been across-the-board positive, from Pitchfork’s ‘Best New Music’ nod, to Spin deeming it ‘Essential’, to Stereogum naming it Album of the Week.

I got a copy of the LP a couple weeks ago and listened through it again for the first time in a while.  I don’t know how to write about it without sounding like a proud papa, but maybe that’s just what I am.  The artwork is stunning (Andrew kinda blew me away this time), and sitting there poring over the packaging while the music played from my stereo, I was able to forget that I had anything to do with making it and just enjoy it.  It’s a cool record – catchy and gnarly and tough and fun – the kind of record that made me want to make records in the first place.  We worked really hard to see this vision through, and I couldn’t be happier with the results or the reception it has had.  Their homecoming show last week at Sugar Hill Supper Club (with our pals Protomartyr and Future Punx) was icing on the cake… just that much sweeter.

 

My copy of the LP also came with a 7″, featuring an alternate version of ‘Black and White’ and another Sean song “Tic in My Brain’.  We couldn’t figure out which version of ‘Black and White’ we liked better, so they just put them both out.  Austin and Johann Rashid made a pretty stellar video for this second version of ‘Black and White’.

 

Impose Magazine recently posted a mix Bob and I made as Eaters.  We worked out the song selection together, with “each artist embodies a spirit of exploration in their work and blurs the line between outlier and trailblazer.”  But Bob’s the real brain behind this mix, and it sounds fantastic… a proper journey.  We’ve been working on some new material, and have some shows coming up this summer, including this one at Glasslands on July 11th.

I’ve been busy with a lot of other great projects (including a new Future Punx EP), but wanted to get this out there before too long…. talk at ya again soon.

 

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!!

 

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Sunbathing Animal Artwork

The new Parquet Courts record Sunbathing Animal  was officially announced this week, and with it a stream of the titular track and a Best New Track nod from Pitchfork!  Of all the songs on the record, this is the one that still elicits the strongest reaction – it really does something for me.  Tracking this song is probably the most intense recording experience I’ve ever had – there’s almost nothing in the instrumental to cue where you are in the song and it’s practically un-punch-in-able – and I think that feeling of riding the rails and struggling to finish the sprint is truly captured here.  I like to think of it as the sonic equivalent of a beast of hair, teeth and claws bearing down on you as you for dear life.

Over the weekend, I listened to the acetate of Sunbathing Animal back to back with the test pressing of the Eaters LP with my other Eater Bob Jones and Andrew Savage from Parquet Courts (who’s co-releasing Eaters on his label Dull Tools).  Both of these records mean so much to me (emotionally, creatively, professionally), from the experiences of making them (with people I consider to be both inspiring collaborators and close friends), to the finished albums (and the feeling that I wouldn’t change a single thing about either one).  I can’t wait for people to hear what I’ve been doing with the last year of my life.

 

Another labor of love that just hit the internet is the first song from my good friend Gregg Gillis’ new Girl Talk EP with Freeway, Broken Ankles.  I’ve been working with him off-and-on throughout this project, and it’s so exciting to see this drop.  The first single “Tolerated” has a verse from Waka Flocka Flame, and an Enon sample to boot!  Plus, the video is completely ridiculous and amazing.  The full EP comes out April 8th on Dat Piff.

 

And I just got my own copy of the Fa Bonx 7″!  They exist!  There are all kinds of back stories and rumors about the provenance of these recordings… something about a forgotten glam band and rescued tapes… all I know is that Kevin from What’s Your Rupture brought me these tape transfers to work with, and it was a blast doing it.  Check out The Rinda below.

 

I’m so psyched to be mixing the new PC Worship record right now!  They were the first band I fell for after moving to New York, and I’ve scrambled to keep up with their releases since.  This new record, recorded and mangled by primary Worshiper Justin Frye at Roulette, is a massive slab of mutant rock n’ roll that pushes the boundaries of their sound in some stunningly mind-numbing ways.  Look for it this fall…. you should be psyched too.

I just finished working on a record by Dream Police, a new project from Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi of The Men.  It’s a trip of a record, heavy on drum machines and wild solos, with a lot of stylistic ground covered – from industrial biker vibes to acoustic psychedelia to cinematic synth-pop and everywhere in between.  I co-mixed it with Kyle Keays-Hagerman and the band at Doctor Wu’s, and Kyle tracked it at his space Spice World on his own Otari MX-5050.  I’m not sure when or where this will be coming out, but it’ll be a real treat when it does.

Lots of cool stuff coming up this month!  It’s too much and too soon to get into everything, but I promise it will be amazing!  Thanks for reading, and please hit me up if you’d like to talk about sound: jonathan.schenke[at]gmail.com

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!