Session Buzz: Who’s Recording In & Around NYC – A Monthly Report

GREATER NYC AREA: New works by David Bowie, Vampire Weekend, She & Him, Azealia Banks, John Scofield, Common and more have been in production all over the city – in the studios highlighted below. Where’s everyone recording? And who’s working with who? Here is our neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to recent NYC studio sessions…

First up, Sound City director Dave Grohl brought his Sound City: Reel to Real soundtrack to The Lodge to be mastered by Emily Lazar and Joe LaPorta.

Butch Vig, Joe LaPorta, Dave Grohl and Emily Lazar during Real to Reel mastering sessions. (Photo credit: Jim Sullos)

Mixed by Brooklyn-based engineer James Brown, the album was recorded on the legendary Sound City Neve 8028 at Grohl’s studio and features the various performances captured for the film, including Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, Josh Homme and Paul McCartney. The album comes out on Roswell Records on March 12 – pre-order it on iTunes and download the first single, “Cut Me Some Slack” (featuring McCartney).

Also at The Lodge, Vampire Weekend mastered their anticipated new album Modern Vampires of the City – produced by Rostam Batmanglij and Ariel Rechtshaid – with Lazar and LaPorta. The record is due out May 7 on XL Recordings. Superstar DJ Armin van Buuren returned to The Lodge to master his new album for Armada Records. The album was produced by Armin van Buuren and Benno de Goeij and mastered by Lazar and LaPorta. And finally, LaPorta recently mastered the new Cold War Kids album, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts – produced by Lars Stalfors and Dann Galluci and due out April 2 on Downtown Records.

Nearby at SweetSounds, indie folk ensemble Miko and the Musket tracked a new EP in the Crosby Room – Brad Fisher produced and engineered, assisted by Josh Giunta and James Gill. The band tracked through the Neve 5088 console over a five-day session that SweetSounds owner Dinesh Boaz calls “epic and awesome.”

“To create a very big sounding record, six different room mics were employed at different times as well as an SPL Transient Designer to customize the sense of space on the drums,” says Boaz. “Acoustic, electric guitars, bass, and vocals on six songs were also recorded, comped, and prepared for mix.  The last day ran for 16 hours straight, where vocals, guitar, re-amps, and bass were recorded for 3 of the songs without break.”

Tony Visconti, David Bowie and Brian Thorne at The Magic Shop. Photo by Kabir Hermon.

Another epic session wrapped recently at The Magic Shop (as we previously reported) – David Bowie’s new album, The Next Day, had been in production there for two years, with Tony Visconti producing, Mario McNulty engineering and Brian Thorne assisting. The album, Bowie’s first in a decade, comes out in March.

In other Magic Shop sessions… She & Him tracked and mixed their new album, Vol. 3, with producer/engineer Tom Shick, assisted by Kabir Hermon…studio owner Steve Rosenthal and staff engineer Ted Young worked with Sony Legacy’s Rob Santos on the upcoming Elvis record Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite: Legacy Edition, mixing the dress rehearsal from the original multitrack tapes… Kurt Vile‘s upcoming release Wakin On Pretty Daze was produced and mixed by John Agnello with Ted Young… Engineer/producer Alex Newport tracked Grandfather‘s upcoming release In Human Form… Lloyd Cole recorded for his new album with engineer Geoff Sanoff… and Lily and the Parlour Tricks recorded for an upcoming EP with producer Wilson Brown, and Young engineering.

With the departure of mastering engineer Warren Russell-Smith for Los Angeles, mastering engineer Jessica Thompson is now working out of the Blue Room while Sean Gavigan, Doug Bleek and Matt Zedolik continue restoration work out of the Red Room. Thompson recently mastered Balkan Arts Series - a collection of 1960-1970s field recordings of traditional folk dances, restored from vinyl - The Lake Reflections, an album of genre-defying piano improvisations by Boyd Lee Dunlop, produced/engineered by Allen Farmelo; and a new record of Irish tunes for Chris Byrne‘s (Black 47) new band The Lost Tribe of Donegal.

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite

Next, up to Avatar Studios, where singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke has been recording an upcoming project in multiple rooms with co-producer Patrick Rains and Roy Hendrickson engineering, and where Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite have been recording new material with producer Dave Einstein, and engineer Anthony Ruotolo.

Also at Avatar… Cirque du Soleil mixed their Zarkana cast album in Studio A with producer Nick Littlemore, and engineer Roy Hendrickson assisted by Mike Bauer…MTV shot live performances for their Artists to Watch series with Gold Fields and Hunter Hayes – produced by Dan Weissman and Allyssa Agro with engineer Ryan Jones assisted by Bob Mallory…the Wayne Shorter Quartet and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra recorded together in Studio A with producer Rob Griffin and engineer Todd Whitelock… up-and-coming band Basic Vacation recorded with producer David Kahne, and Hendrickson at the controls…And fresh off his performance at the Grammy Awards, Kenny Garrett recorded with co-producer Al Pryor and engineer Joe Ferla.

Also worth noting, 10 Grammy Award winning records (and 21 nominees) were recorded at Avatar (Paul McCartney, Anita Baker, Chick Corea, etc.). Check out the full list here.

A few blocks away at Sear Sound…Phil Ramone produced tracks for a new Broadway Show, I Will, I Can – based on Sammy Davis, Jr.’s autobiography – with Frank Filipetti engineering on the Avalon/Sear custom board; and actor and singer/songwriter Jesse Lenat recorded new material with engineer Chris Allen and producer Loren Toolajian for Sandblast Productions.

As usual, Sear hosted a number of jazz sessions, including pianist Gerald Clayton tracking a new album on the Neve 8038 with Ted Tuthill engineering and Ben Wendel producing… Sophie Millman recording with producer Matt Pierson and engineer Chris Allen…John Scofield recording his latest with engineer James Farber…and Kris Bowers tracking a new album with producer Chris Dunn and Allen engineering. Finally, Ten Dragon Films was at Sear tracking a score for their documentary, In The Magic of the Green Mountains – Allen engineered with Micah Burgess producing – and the “Flamenco Queen”, Buika, returned to Sear to mix her new album with Tuthill engineering and Eli Wolf producing for Warner Bros. Spain.

Azealia Banks

Back downtown at Germano Studios, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were back to record more material for an upcoming album with Kenny Laguna and Jett producing, and Thom Panunzio and Kenta Yonesaka engineering.

And in other recent sessions at Germano…Harlem-bred rap ingénue Azealia Banks recorded vocals for a new record with Ric McRae producing and engineering…John Legend recorded and mixed for his upcoming record with Dave Tozer producing and Jason Agel engineering…French hip-hop band IAM recorded and mixed their new album with Prince Charles Alexander mixing (and Dave Rowland recording)… Passion Pit recorded and shot video with Dillon Francis producing…Isa “Machine” Summers recorded piano for the artist LP with Yonesaka engineering …and Japanese artist AK recorded and mixed with Yonesaka again at the controls.

Back up in Times Square at Premier Studios NY, Justin Bieber was working on some new music with his longtime guitarist Dan Kanter – Ari Raskin engineered the sessions with Oscar Lindquist assisting.

Meanwhile, Roc Nation artist/producer J. Cole has been working out of Premier Studio B, with Mez on the controls; G-Unit rapper Kidd Kidd was in tracking with Premier engineer Kevin Geigel; the whole Pro Era crew (Joey Bada$$, etc.) has been locked into Studio F working on upcoming albums and mixtapes with Big K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA, A$AP Rocky, Sha Money XL and many more; Shontelle was in Studio E working on new material with songwriter Corey “Chorus” Gibson, producer Reo and Angelo Payne engineering; and Trey Songz was back in the studio working on new material with Premier engineer Anthony Daniel.

Masterdisk finished some pretty major albums of late, including the 2-disc vinyl set of the aforementioned Bowie album, The Next Day, for Columbia Records. Alex DeTurk was the cutting engineer. CoCoRosie brought their new Valgeir Sigurðsson-produced album, Tales of the Grass Widow to be mastered by Scott Hull for City Slang Records. French Montana’s new single, “Freaks” (feat. Nicki Minaj) was mastered by Tony Dawsey, and assisted by Tim Boyce. The track was produced by Rico Love.

Vlado Meller mastered Harry Connick, Jr.’s new album Smokey Mary, produced/mixed by Tracey Freeman for Columbia Records. Meller was assisted by Mark Santangelo. And Randy Merrill mastered the new Jangeun “JB” Bae record, mixed by Aaron Nevezie at The Bunker in Brooklyn for Inner Circle Music / Gimbab Records.

BROOKLYN ACTION

Some heavy hip-hop production sessions have gone down at The Brewery in Williamsburg recently: For one, producer Dot Da Genius linked up with the producer 88 Keys and Common to work on new material. Dot has also been in the studio working with Def Jam artist Logic.

Dot Da Genius, Common and 88 Keys at The Brewery

Meanwhile, Dot’s partner in The Brewery, engineer/mixer Andrew Krivonos has been working with Las Vegas-based hip-hop artist Sean Rose – splitting time between Brooklyn and L.A. and “rocking the Brewery’s completely upgraded Pro Tools rig.”

Krivonos has also been engineering sessions at The Brewery with Universal’s recent hip-hop signing, Mr. MFN eXquire, with Bryan Lampe mixing; and has been tracking drums/bass/guitar and vocals for the hip-hop band Downbeat Keys’ upcoming EP, Memory Chrome – taking advantage of the re-worked acoustics in The Brewery’s new live room. And songwriter Corey Chorus and the Philly Phatboi’s were at the Brewery working with Krivonos on some records for the Columbia artist, RaVaughn.

Mastering engineer Drew Lavyne, who blogged about the loss of his Breezy Point studio in Hurricane Sandy, has been cranking on projects out of his new studio in Bay Ridge. The first two albums he mastered, in fact, were back-to-back #1 records: Kim Walker-Smith‘s album Still Believe made #1 on the iTunes Christian and Gospel Chart (and hit #4 on the iTunes Top Albums) and Jesus Culture’s album Live From New York with Martin Smith hit #1 on the iTunes Christian and Gospel Chart.

Other recent projects since Lavyne re-located his A.L.L. Digital include mastering for Exile Parade, Cari Fletcher, Arianna feat. Pitbull, Walk The Moon, Two Door Cinema Club, and Antigone Rising.

Over at GalumniumFoil in Williamsburg, producer/engineer and guitarist Jeff Berner was working on a bunch of records, including producing/engineering Naam’s second full-length LP for TeePee Records; engineering and playing on Psychic TV‘s new limited edition vinyl-only release, Silver Sundown Machine/Alien Lightning Meat Machine for Vanity Case Records; producing/mixing and playing on Heliotropes‘ debut full-length for Manimal Vinyl/Frenchkiss Records, due out in the spring; tracking basics for Dead Stars‘ new EP, live to tape; and engineering and mixing The Glorious Veins‘ new LP, Savage Beat.

Brooklyn psych-rock band Naam

Berner also recently produced and engineered Man The Change‘s upcoming “Faded” and “Defeated EP’s for Hooked On Records and new songs for Tatiana Kochkareva’s forthcoming album.

All records were tracked to GaluminumFoil’s 32-channel Neotek Elan console, using their Sony/MCI JH-24 2″ tape machine – with a good majority of them mastered by Alex DeTurk at Masterdisk. (Why?, says Berner, because he’s awesome.)

Nearby at The Fort in Bushwick, producer/engineer James Bentley has been working on a few albums – most recently he’s been tracking and mixed an LP for surf-punk band, Trash Tide; wrappingup overdubs/mixing on an EP he’s producing for local “sci-fi rock band” Lord Classic, finishing mixes on an LP for pop/rock band Aquadora, and filming a session for a new video series called “Behind the Glass“.

And we know there’s so much more going on out there! If you’d like to be featured in “Session Buzz,” please submit your studio news to submissions@sonicscoop.com.