Fall Album Preview: 25 Upcoming Records & The People Behind Them

September 5, 2013 by  

Summer’s over, back to business. There’s a looooong list of records en route from studios and labels around the country due to drop over the next couple months. Here’s our quick-hit list of anticipated releases with as many production details as we could muster.


Australian grunge band, Violent Soho, released their Hungry Ghost LP this week on I Oh You Records. The album was produced by producer Bryce Moorhead (who the band calls “Brisbane’s Steve Albini), and mixed by John Agnello at Fluxivity in Williamsburg. Stream “Covered in Chrome” and get the album at iTunes.

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys

Awkward” the latest single from Mom+Pop punk rockers FIDLAR will be available September 8. The track was produced by Rob Schnapf and engineered by Chris Szczech at Kingsize Soundlabs in LA.

Arctic Monkeys new album, AM, is out Sep. 10 in the U.S. via Domino Records. It was produced by James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco) and co-produced by Ross Orton at Sage & Sound Recording in Los Angeles and Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree. Hear R U Mine and Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High…and the entire album stream on iTunes!

The Weeknd‘s anticipated Trilogy followup, Kiss Land, drops Sep. 10 on Universal Republic. Production was handled by frontman Abel Tesfaye, along with producers Danny Boy Styles and DaHeala and features mixing from Manny Marroquin (Larrabee Studios) and Mark “Spike” Stent. Joe LaPorta mastered the album at Sterling Sound. Stream Kiss Land over at NPR!

Holy Ghost!‘s new album Dynamics comes out Sep. 10 via DFA Records. The album was produced by Holy Ghost and mixed by Chris Zane at DFA Studio in NYC. Hear album opener “Okay“.

New York indie-rock band Forest Fire also has a new record coming via Fat Cat on 9/10 as well. Screens was co-produced/engineered and mixed by Jonathan Schenke — recorded at Fat Cat’s studio, Tree Time, in the Hudson Valley, with overdubs and mixing happening at Doctor Wu’s in Brooklyn, and mastering by Alan Douches at West West Side Music. Check out the advance single, “Waiting In The Night”, below…

Look out for a new EP by synth-rock band Magic Man via Neon Gold Records/Columbia on Sep. 10 . Stream the song “Every Day” which debuted this week. The band apparently has a full-length album on the way as well. Both releases were mixed by Alex Aldi and mastered by Heba Kadry at Timeless Mastering in Brooklyn.

A couple other notable Australian rock bands, Papa vs. Pretty and The Naked and Famous, have new music rolling out in September…

“My Life Is Yours”, the first single off Papa vs. Pretty’s new album White Deer Park – produced and engineered by Dave Trumfio in Los Angeles – will be available September 13, with the album due out in February via EMI. And the new full-length by synth-rockers, The Naked and Famous, In Rolling Waves, will arrive Sep. 17 via Universal Republic. The band recorded the album with Billy Bush at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, mixed with Alan Moulder at his Assault & Battery in the UK and mastered with Joe LaPorta at Sterling in New York. Hear album single “Hearts Like Ours“.

MGMT will unearth their new album Sep. 17 via Columbia Records. Oracular Spectacular producer Dave Fridmann re-grouped with the band for the upcoming eponymous album at his Tarbox Road Studios in Cassadaga, NY. Stream album opener “Alien Days” and check out the epic album trailer here.

Alt-country singer Tift Merritt and pedal steel/guitar Eric Haywood (The Pretenders, Ray LaMontagne) recorded an acoustic album, Traveling Companion, a bonus disc that will accompany the deluxe edition of Merritt’s Traveling Alone (out Sep. 17 on Yep Roc). The 10-song LP was recorded and mixed at Mason Jar Music in Brooklyn by Dan Knobler & Jon Seale.

Drake / Nothing Was The Same / Sep. 24 / Cash Money Records

Drake’s Nothing Was The Same / Cash Money Republic Records (9/24)

The new Drake album Nothing Was The Same will finally arrive on Sep. 24 via Cash Money / Republic Records. Largely produced and engineered by longtime engineer Noah “40″ Shebib — in part out of Metalworks Studios outside Toronto – Nothing features production by Hit-Boy, Boi-1da, Hudson Mowhawke and Mike WiLL Made It and collaborations with Jay-Z, 2 Chainz, James Blake and more.

Stream “Hold On, We’re Going Home” feat. and produced by OVO Sound‘s Majid Jordan, and co-produced by Nineteen85, and Noah “40″ Shebib.

NYC via DC post-hardcore veterans Girls Against Boys will release a new EP, The Ghost List, on Sep. 24 via Epitonic Records. GVSB member and mixer/producer Eli Janney produced and mixed the EP with Geoff Sanoff co-producing. Download an album single, “It’s a Diamond Life“.

And southern rockers Kings of Leon are set to drop Mechanical Bull Sep. 24 on RCA. The album was recorded at Kings of Leon’s own studio in Nashville (“Neon Leon”), with James Brown engineering and longtime producer Angelo Petraglia at the helm. Brown mixed the album at Blackbird Studio.

And the much-anticipated debut LP by L.A. sister-pop band, HAIM, Days Are Gone, comes out on Columbia Sep. 30. Listen to “The Wire” below. The album was recorded in Los Angeles, with producers Ariel Rechtshaid and James Ford, with some sessions engineered by Jimmy Robertson out of Kingsize Soundlabs. Tom Elmhirst mixed tracks for the album out of his studio at Electric Lady, and it was mastered at The Lodge by Emily Lazar, assisted by Rich Morales.


On the first of the month, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts will release Unvarnished, on Blackheart Records. Jett’s first record since 2006, and 14th album with The Blackhearts, the album was recorded largely at Germano Studios in New York, with Kenny Laguna producing and Thom Panunzio engineering, and will reportedly contributions from Dave Grohl and Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!

Sleigh Bells‘ new album, Bitter Rivals, drops Oct. 8 via Mom + Pop. The record was produced by the band’s Derek Miller and mixed by Los Angeles-based engineer Andrew Dawson (Kanye West, fun.). Watch the video for the title track below.

St. Lucia will release a new record, When The Night (Oct. 8) on Neon Gold / Columbia Records. St. Lucia’s Jean-Philip Grobler produced the album, with additional production by Chris Zane, and mixing by Zane, Andy Baldwin and Rich Costey. Greg Calbi mastered the album at Sterling Sound.

Also due out Oct. 8 is the new EP by highly-worth-checking-out Brooklyn rock band Parquet CourtsTally All the Things That You Broke was recorded at Seaside Lounge with producer/engineer Jonathan Schenke, who also mixed the album at Doctor Wu’s in Williamsburg. The EP will be released via What’s Your Rupture? Stream the opener, “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now“.

NY/LA artist/producers Prefuse 73 and Teebs have teamed up to make a new album under the “Sons of the Morning” moniker. Mixed by Prefuse 73 and mastered by Heba Kadry at Timeless Mastering in Brooklyn, Speak Soon (Volume One) comes out in September on Yellow Year Records.

The new Pusha T album, My Name is My Name, is slated for an Oct. 8 release on G.O.O.D. / Def Jam and features a superstar line-up of producers and feature spots. Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, The-Dream, Don Cannon and Swizz Beats are among the album’s producers, with Kanye and Pharrell also guesting on the record, along with Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown, 2 Chainz and Future. Engineers on the record include Noah Goldstein and Dave Rowland (at Germano Studios), with additional music provided by Brent Kolatalo and Ken Lewis out of Full Time Dreamer Studio.

A$AP Mob are prepping a new album to be released Oct. 15 on Sony, with producer and engineer Daniel Lynas. The group is working out of Polo Grounds‘ private studio. Lynas has also been working with A$AP Rocky on his upcoming instrumental record, Beauty & The Beast: Slowed Down Sessions Vol. 1.

Cults / Static / Columbia

Cults’ Static / Columbia (Oct. 15)

NYC indie-pop duo Cults return with Static Oct. 15 via Columbia. Hear album single “High Road“. Follin and Oblivion produced the album with help from producer/engineers Shane Stoneback (Sleigh Bells, Vampire Weekend) and Ben Allen (Washed Out, Animal Collective).

Indie-folk band The Head and the Heart will put out its sophomore album on Sub Pop, Let’s Be Still (Oct. 15). Peter Katis mixed and did additional recording and production for the album out of his Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, CT. Listen to “Shake” off the record here.

Gates, a post-rock band from New Brunswick, will re-release their album, You Are All You Have To Fear, Oct. 22 on Pure Noise Records. The album was mixed and mastered by Mike Watts out at Vudu Studios on Long Island.

Arcade Fire‘s new record, Reflektor, comes out October 29 on Merge Records. The band was said to be working on the album with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, and out of DFA Studio in NYC.

Austin rockers White Denim bring forth their Corsicana Lemonade on Downtown Records. The album was tracked in Texas with Jim Vollentine in a converted house-studio and also at Wilco’s Loft in Chicago, featuring some production and mixing from Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and engineer Tom Schick. The record was mastered by Joe LaPorta at Sterling Sound.

And we’ll see the debut album by Juliana Hatfield and Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws as Minor Alps. The album, Get There, was co-produced and recorded by Tom Beaujour at his Nuthouse Recording in Hoboken (now located inside the Water Music complex), and mixed by John Agnello at Fluxivity in Williamsburg. Barsuk will put out the record. Check out the soft-and-sweet first track off the album, “Buried Plans”:

November will see long-awaited new albums by M.I.A. (Matangi, 11/5 on N.E.E.T./Interscope) — hear an advance track “Come Walk With Me” — which includes production by Hit-Boy, Switch, Surkin, M.I.A., So Japan, and Danja; Eminem (MMLP2, 11/5 on Shady Records) — which will feature production by Rick Rubin, No ID, DJ Khalil and Dr. Dre; and Lady Gaga (Artpop, 11/11 on Interscope) featuring production by Fernando Garibay and DJ White Shadow among others. But more on all that in a later post…


Watch Cymbals Eat Guitars Record With John Agnello In “Masters From Their Day”

September 7, 2012 by  

In the new episode of “Masters From Their Day“, Staten Island indie rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars record a brand-new song (in one day) with producer/engineer John Agnello.

The band and Agnello – who produced their latest album, Lenses Alien – recorded the song up at Dreamland Recording, a converted church studio located just outside Woodstock. “Masters From Their Day” (watch below) documented the process.

Click to download the song, “Hawk Highway,” and find out more about the episode, and the “Masters From Their Day” video series – produced by Brooklyn-based filmmaker Elias Gwinn.

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

March 7, 2012 by  

GREATER NYC AREA: This month in NYC recording found Skrillex producing Wale, Nicki Minaj working with Big Sean, The Kin recording with The Rondo Brothers, and a ton of bands recording in Brooklyn. There’s no way to report on everything, but here we run down some of the highlights from February to now…

Starting in Brooklyn This Time!

At Headgear Recording, Jersey rock band The Everymen mixed their upcoming album with producer/engineer John Agnello. And NYC-based Japanese rock band The Ricecookers tracked and mixed two EPs with engineer Ted Young.

Vacation Island’s newly appointed “Dead Room” with views into larger tracking room.

Brooklyn bliss-pop band Cave Days has been recording a new LP at The Fort Brooklyn. James “General Crapshoot” Bentley is recording, mixing and producing with the band. In other news, The Fort has just re-capped the master section of their Neotek Elan console and – according to Bentley – “it sounds unreal!”

At Vacation Island Recording in Williamsburg, producer/engineer Matt Boynton recently finished mixing the new Suckers album, Candy Salad for Frenchkiss Records. Boynton also mixed more songs from Free Blood and finished Zachary Cale‘s new “Hangman Letters” EP. Brooklyn rock band Linfinity, Manican Party and El Dorado all recently mixed records with Boynton. And (pictured) Vacation Island’s tracking room (the “dead” room) got a facelift!

Meanwhile, heavy psych-rock trio NAAM were recording and mixing their new “Ballad of the Starchild” EP with producer/guitarist Jeff Berner at Galuminum Foil in Williamsburg.

Berner also recently recorded, mixed, and played guitar on Psychic TV‘s limited vinyl-only 12″s – “Thank You Pts 1& 2″ and “Mother Sky/Alien Sky” (for Vanity Case Records) with additional engineering from Chris Cubeta – produced/engineered/played on Tatiana Kochkareva‘s “Infinity”, recorded and mixed Dead Stars‘ “I Get By” EP, and The Courtesy Tier‘s “Holy Hot Fire.” Also out of Galuminum Foil, Berner is currently recording and mixing records for Monuments, Man The Change, Jumpers, The Glorious Veins and Chris Abad.

Nearby at Excello Recording in Williamsburg, Grammy-winning Irish folksinger Susan McKeown tracked acoustic music for an upcoming release with engineer Hugh Pool. And Brooklyn-based rock band Alberta Cross tracked new material at Excello with producer/engineer Claudius Mittendorfer (Interpol, Muse), and assistant Oliver Palomares.

Trombonist/guitarist/composer Curtis Hasselbring brought in a large acoustic tracking session to Excello – which Pool also engineered. And The Veda Rays tracked drums for their upcoming release with producer Jason Marcucci, and Pool engineering, assisted by Charles Dechants. Tokyo/Brooklyn rock duo Ken South Rock also recorded for their upcoming release at Excello with Pool, and Charlie Gramidia producing.

Z. Cole Smith’s DIVE is making a record with Daniel Schlett

DIVE, a new four-piece led by Beach Fossils’ Z. Cole Smith and recently signed to Captured Tracks, have been recording and mixing a 7” single and full-length LP at Strange Weather Brooklyn with engineer/producer Daniel Schlett.

Also out of Strange Weather, Schlett has recorded and mixed Royal Baths’ new LP for Kanine Records, recorded and mixed for Zulus’ new release with producer Ben Greenberg, and recorded and mixed tracks for Woodsman’s full-length, due out on Mexican Summer later this year.

Katherine Whalen and Her Fascinators (Squirrel Nut Zippers) were up from North Carolina to track a few songs with producer/engineer Colby Devereux at his studio Copperfish Sound in Brooklyn. Devereux also recently tracked a few songs with The Library is on Fire. Check out these and other recording sessions at “Live from Copperfish Sound” on Vimeo.

We also dropped by Mason Jar Music out in Borough Park this week, where Afro-Beat ensemble EMEFE was recording a new album with Mason Jar founders Dan Knobler and Jon Seale. Both producer/engineer/musicians, Knobler and Seale also just finished mixing a new album by indie-folk band Town Hall. Look out for our upcoming feature on this exciting collective of musicians, producers and filmmakers…

Meanwhile in Manhattan…

Pat Metheny took over Avatar Studio A for four days of tracking with his full “Orchestrion“.  The session was produced by Methany and Steve Rodby, with James Farber engineering, assisted by Bob Mallory. Lyle Lovett tracked in Studio C with his band while in town with producer/engineer Nathaniel Kunkel assisted by Tim Marchiafava. And Lenny Kravitz recorded in Studio B with engineer Tom “T-Bone” Edmunds assisted by Charlie Kramsky.

Chris Lord-Alge mixing in Studio G while a class of NYU students listens in the live room.

Australia four-piece band The Rubens recorded with producer David Kahne, and engineer Roy Hendrickson. And the film score to Yaron Zilberman’s A Late Quartet (Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman) – composed by Brooklyn native Angelo Badalamenti – was recorded in Studio A, produced by Badalamenti and Jim Bruening and engineered by Todd Whitelock.  And Chris Lord-Alge held a mixing event for the students of NYU Steinhardt School sponsored by SSL. Chris demonstrated his mixing techniques in Studio G on the same console he mixes on at his Mix LA Studio, the SSL 4000 G series.

Downtown at Germano Studios, Chris Shaw has been mixing a Paul Simon Graceland live concert from San Sebastian, Spain with producer Steve Berkowitz, The Kin recorded basic tracks with The Rondo Brothers (Foster the People) producing and engineering, John Legend recorded with Dave Tozer producing and Jason Agel engineering, and Chris Rene (X-Factor) was in for mixing sessions with Claude Kelly producing and Ben Chang engineering.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts continued recording in Germano Studio 1 with Thom Panunzio engineering and Kenny Laguna producing, Brazilian singer Michel Teló worked on a new release with Kenta Yonesaka engineering and John Doelp (A&R at Sony/Columbia Records) producing, hit songwriter Sandy Vee was in recording with Butch Walker and Dreamlab, and “The Last Unicorn” recorded with DJ/producer Alexander Dexter-Jones and Sean Parker producing, and Kenta Yonesaka engineering.

At Premier Studios in Times Square, Nicki Minaj and Big Sean were working on a project together, with engineer Chad Jolley, assisted by Kevin Geigel; Young Jeezy came in to work with artist/producer Ryan Leslie on a new track in sessions engineered by Stickabus; Rapper Wale worked in Studio F with Grammy-winning artist/producer Skrillex, and engineer Derek Pacuk, assisted by Kelby Craig; and Yo Gotti recorded some new original material for his upcoming album, with engineer Angelo Payne and assistant Colin Rivers.

Wale worked on a track in Premier Studio F with Grammy-winning electronic artist/DJ/producer Skillrex

Also at Premier, the casts of Broadway’s Anything Goes and Mamma Mia! recorded respective projects in Studio A with Matt Polk producing, and Kevin Geigel (Anything Goes) and Sam Giannelli (Mamma Mia!) engineering.

Right in the same building at Quad Studios, indie-to-Epic pop band Oh Land worked on music for a new album with Brandon Boyd and Andros Rodriguez, MBK artist Gabi Wilson worked on songs for a new project, Interscope artist J. Randall tracked songs for a debut album, and Remo the Hitmaker was camped out in Studio Q1 producing and writing with various artists.

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.

Beyond The Basics: Serial Skills, Simplified.

August 18, 2011 by  

Like Parallel Compression, Serial Compression is one of those esoteric terms that seems to pop up in recording magazines from time to time. While the name might seem abstruse and academic, the process is anything but:

“Putting one compressor before another is something that was going on long before it got a fancy name that made it sound like a ‘technique’,” says Joel Hamilton, one of the four NYC engineers we asked to weigh in on the subject.

“But the idea that you can kind of mine different things out of the same signal by chaining devices with different tones or time constants is totally valid.”

Simply defined, Serial Processing is the use of two (or more) similar effects on the same audio track. Most often, you’ll encounter the term as it refers to compression, EQ, and de-essing.

In addition to Hamilton [Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Dub Trio], we talked to producer/engineer John Agnello [Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile] as well mastering engineers Randy Merrill and Scott Hull of Masterdisk, about their approach.


“It’s like using shellac,” Hamilton continued. “You can’t buy a bucket of shellac, pour the whole thing out on your tabletop and expect it to turn out extra-glossy. But, by applying it in a dozen tiny layers, one on top of the other, you can bring the surface to a really high shine.”

“Much the same way, you can’t compress 20db with a Neve 33609 and expect it to sound like several devices each pulling back a few db.”

All of our panelists agreed – sometimes, spreading the work across more than one unit leads to better results:

“It’s well-known that in general, the shorter the signal path the better the sound quality,” said Scott Hull of Masterdisk [Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, The Ramones].

“That’s true, and I’ll never use more gear than what’s needed to achieve the goal. But you can’t always get what you need from one device. What you may need is the complex interaction between two.”

“I would probably never choose to put two of the same compressors or EQs inline on the same track, but I will often use two different-sounding but similar types of processors if the combined result is better than without.”

When we boiled it down for this article, it became clear that our panelists consistently cited three basic reasons for stacking their effects: Tone, Tweak Points, and Time.


“There are some pieces of gear that just have a great character and I’ll use them when that character is needed,” mastering engineer Scott Hull said.

“What might confuse engineers that use primarily digital processing, is that an analog EQ isn’t always an EQ. And an analog compressor isn’t always a compressor. Running through my compressors with no gain reduction sometimes produces very favorable results from a tone or color standpoint.”

Producer/engineer John Agnello agreed:

“I believe that when you’re in the analog world, different pieces of gear do sound different from each other, even if you’re just passing signal through them. You can patch into a Pultec and it’ll sound completely different than an API 560 before you even do anything. Sometimes you don’t want to do a ton of EQ, but you want the sound of that piece of gear.”


“With a Pultec,” Agnello continued, “you might just add a little bit of low end or a little bit of top-end, and still get the sound you need from it. But you may still  want to sculpt it more, so you might go into an API 560 after that and notch out or notch in a bunch of frequencies.”

“So there’s the sound quality of each piece of gear, and then there’s also the practical factor of having access to all the frequencies you want to get to. You may want the sound of a Pultec but the flexibility of a graphic EQ.”

“I’ll do that a lot on snares and vocals. I’ll usually go through a 560, and then at the end of my chain I’ll have a nice fat Pultec, or maybe a Daking, just to give it a little size on the back end – just to take that sound and make it sound 10 percent bigger at the very end.”

Hamilton had similar thoughts: “There’s a difference between boosting 3k on a Neve 1084 and boosting 3k on an SSL EQ. On an SSL, I know that frequency is going to hurt me a little. The same way, I might want to boost 8khz on a Pultec instead. So that way you can end up with a few EQs on the same source pretty quickly.”

Merrill had similar points to make: “I use multiple EQ’s in series a lot. The curve shapes and phase responses of each of my EQ’s is different. I’ve found that in some cases, several small, incremental adjustments across multiple EQ’s gets me the sound I’m looking for, as opposed to adding more EQ on one unit in the same range. Other times this isn’t the case, and I’ll do a lot of EQ with one unit. It always depends on the mix, but I’d say more often than not, I’m using multiple EQ’s.”


With compressors, there’s another crucial factor: attack and release times.

"...you can’t always get what you need from one device."

“When it comes to the ‘how’ part,” said Hull, “ I find it’s simply a matter of putting the compressors with longer attack times first in the chain and faster attack compressors and limiters later in the chain. This isn’t brain surgery.”

That kind of stacking was the first thought to come to mind for Agnello and Hamilton as well:

“As far as time constants, you could put on a very slow, low-ratio compressor first, and send that into a fast limiter that’s catching just the top of the peaks,” said Hamilton.

“That can make it feel like the track is plowing through molasses to get to the limiter. With that approach, you can take something that’s very lightweight and stringy, like an arpeggiated nylon-string guitar, and get some real heft out of it. It’s almost like adding a sense of inertia; some real weight in a mix.”

“It can help get rid of that really unencumbered and pointalistic sound that people associate with a straight up Pro Tools mix, where you have all these really spikey transients. For me, it could be a slower, gushier compressor first, like a Collins 26-1U, followed by a Neve 33609 set to a really fast attack and release.”

Agnello had a similar approach on electric guitars:

“A lot of times I’ll go with a tube compressor and put a solid state compressor on the back end, or vice versa, depending on what sounds I’m going for. If I’m having trouble getting a guitar to sit in a mix, I might put it through an LA-2A to give it a big tube action, but at the end put it through an 1176 and compress the sh*t out of it, to make it really like a brickwall.”

Of course, there are times when the opposite approach can work. When tracking an especially dynamic vocal or bass part, it can be advantageous to set up a compressor with a fast release time first in the chain. A busy and dynamic part can wreak havoc on a slowly responding compressor, allowing some peaks to go by uncompressed, while low-level parts of the performance wind up quieter still, buried in the trough of the compressor’s lazy recovery.

The classic example here would be taming a dynamic vocal with a quick tap from a fast-recovering 1176 before allowing it to pass through an LA-2A or Sta-Level set to deliver more consistent compression.


Sometimes, two fast dynamic devices in a row can be handy:

According to Agnello: “If you have some nasty “S”s, sometimes one de-esser won’t do it. You’d have to hit it so hard that it’ll catch too much, giving you a lisping effect. I might give the S’s a little nudge with one de-esser, then really go for the kill with a second, trying to take out as much as I can. I like to think of it as setting up with one and knocking it down with the other.”

“I almost never use two compressors,” added mastering engineer Randy Merrill, “but I often use two limiters in series. I find at times that one particular limiter can only sound good up to a certain point. Once I get there, I’ll rely on another, different limiter to get me closer to the result I’m looking for.”


Unlike our mastering engineers Hull and Merrill, our mixers (Agnello and Hamilton and myself) felt that while stacking compressors can lead to greater transparency, that isn’t always the goal. One or more compressors in a mixer’s chain could very well be set to “stun”, ruthlessly lobbing more than a dozen db off an unsuspecting sound source.

Serial compression can still help in these cases as well. Feeding our “character compressor” a signal that’s already been cut down to a manageable dynamic range can ensure that our hardest-working box delivers an even and predictable effect, rather than jumping around in color and responsiveness due to an erratic signal.


Shane Stoneback discussed sending his plug-in reverbs to a real live chamber in our recent Cults interview. Hamilton is also a long-time proponent of searching for new sounds by stacking ambient effects:

“In general, I really love reverbs layered up. I might have six reverbs on a mix,” he said. “I could be using a spring that doesn’t even go to the main mix – it could be there just to feed a plate reverb.”

“I guess what I’m looking for is a kind of ‘custom complexity’. If the album was tracked in hotels and bedrooms, I might want to create a unifying, Motown-ish kind of signature reverb that ties everything together – you know, where everything kind of lives in this one really unique space.”

For his part, Agnello remembers a time before multi-parameter reverbs. The earliest versions of these chains of time-based effects were patched in by guys like him, using a tape-slap delay to feed a plate reverb.

“Nowadays, the pre-delays are built-in,” he said. If you have an Eventide, you can just pull up anything you want – a flange into a plate – whatever.  Of course you can explore as much as you want. The only thing holding you back there is how much gear you have at your disposal and how much time you want to spend f*ing around.”

And Agnello has spent a lot of time doing just that:

“While working on my second Dinosaur Jr. record [Without A Sound] at Electric Lady, J [Masics] would want me to put one piece of gear after another on his guitar to hear what it would sound like. ‘Put something else on it, let’s see what that does. Ok, now something else’. We’d end up with these chains of like 5 boxes in a row. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it would be ridiculous.”

“But there would be those times where it would be amazing – all of a sudden the guitar was really jumping out of the mix. We just kept listening and trying until it sounded good. I don’t think we called it anything. We were just experimenting.”

Hamilton had similar feelings about attaching terms to the things we do instinctively:

“I think the name ‘Serial EQing’ only came about because of the proliferation of internet ding-dongs talking about Parallel EQing,” he said, as I tried to avoid looking sheepishly at my feet.

“But I guess we’re stuck with the term as much as we’re stuck with anonymous internet punditry.”

As long as that’s true, we’ll be here, hoping to undo the damage by bringing a bit of clarity to all the chatter.

Now go get in tune with your instincts, and start some experiments of your own.

Justin Colletti is a Brooklyn-based producer/engineer who works with uncommon artists, and a journalist who writes about music and how we make it. Visit him at www.justincolletti.com.

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

June 29, 2011 by  

GREATER NYC AREA: Heading into Summer, the city’s recording studios show no signs of slowing down. The following is but a sampling of recent sessions, and works in progress…a snapshot of what’s going on around town:

Aventura – the Bachata band out of the Bronx – has been at Daddy’s House tracking and mixing a new release with Justin Sampson engineering. Pop artist One Love has also been recording at Daddy’s House – tracking basics and vocals with producer/engineer Jon Thimple for his upcoming full-length album on Intrepid Music.

Meanwhile, Daddy’s House is currently undergoing a complete overhaul of infrastructure, operations, and aesthetics – with extensive work being done to both the SSL G Series and Neve VR consoles. Stay tuned for more on this, as the studio prepares to re-set as a full-blown commercial operation.

Chris Taylor's latest solo album as CANT will come out on Terrible Records in September. Mixed by Jack Aron at Germano Studios.

Queens born rapper Ja Rule was at Area 51 tracking and mixing for his upcoming LP with producer Seven Aurelius and engineer Darren Moore. Also at Area 51: Jacob Latimore recorded new material with producer “CJ” and engineer Alberto Vaccarino, and David Banner was in to mix his upcoming release with Pat Viala (50 Cent, Mariah Carey).

Downtown, Christina Aguilera was recording vocals at Germano Studios for a duet with Maroon 5 – the song “Moves Like Jagger” – with Manny Marroquin (Kanye West, Alicia Keys) engineering. Aguilera has also been writing and recording with producer/songwriter Sandy Vee at Germano in sessions engineered by Kevin Porter.

Vee – whose songwriting/producing credits include Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Rhianna’s “Only Girl in the World” – was also working at Germano with Disney ingenue Demi Lovato, and with pop artist/singer Dev, writing and recording new material with Porter engineering.

Other Germano sessions include will.i.am, Beyonce, The Kin recording with  producer/engineer Thom Panunzio, DJ/producer/remixer Chew Fu, and Tiësto mixing with engineer Ben Chang. And Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear) brought his new solo project, CANT – featuring George Lewis Jr. of Twin Shadow – to Germano to mix with Jake Aron (Yeasayer, Jamie Lidell). The new album will be released September 13 via Taylor’s own Terrible Records.

Up the block, experimental Toronto punk band Fucked Up mastered their conceptual sophomore LP David Comes To Life (on Matador Records) at The Lodge. An epic 18-song rock opera, David Comes To Life was produced by NYC’s Shane Stoneback (Cults, Sleigh Bells, Vampire Weekend).

Engineer Hillary Johnson, Jean Morisson, Vernon Reid and producer Diego Paul Sanchez at Electric Lady.

Other records mastered at The Lodge and released this month include Hooray For Earth’s True Loves, Ford & Lopatin’s Channel Pressure, and both The Postelles’ and Cults’ debut albums.

Nearby, rock singer Jean Morisson, formerly of MorissonPoe, has been recording at Electric Lady (Studio C) with producer Diego Paul Sanchez and Hillary Johnson engineering – assisted by Pete Bishoff.

Vernon Reid has been through to play guitar on several tracks on the album, and Nuno Bettencourt will be adding guitars on this project as well.

This week, Universal Japan artist Chihiro Yamanaka recorded at EastSide Sound in the Lower East Side. The recording session, engineered by Marc Urselli, featured Yamanaka playing (piano) with legendary drummer Bernard Purdie and upright bass player Larry Grenadier.

Urselli has also been engineering sessions with John Zorn this week – recording soundtrack music for a play featuring Zorn on sax, Bill Laswell on bass and effects, Kevin Norton on vibes and percussion and Rob Burger on piano/organ/Rhodes.

Bassist Larry Grenadier, Universal Japan artist Chihiro Yamanaka and drummer Bernard Purdie at EastSide Sound.

Heading on over to Long Island City, Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler checked into Spin Recording Studios to track drums for the band’s upcoming release with Josh Wilbur producing and engineering.

Also at Spin, Andy Wallace mixed Natalie Findlay’s upcoming album for Polydor, guitarist-producer Alex Skolnick (Testament) worked on Adrienne Warren’s upcoming album with engineer Nik Chinboukas, and Jeff Kazee (Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Bon Jovi) produced Jersey rock-and-rollers Outside the Box for their upcoming release – also with Chinboukas engineering.

And south to Williamsburg, indie rock band Nada Surf recorded basic tracks for their upcoming LP at Headgear Recording with producer/engineer Chris Shaw. Also at Headgear… Virgin Forest tracked and mixed their second full-length album (for Partisan) with Alex Lipsen engineering; Lipsen produced some new music by Sam Marine, which John Agnello mixed; Kelli Scarr did some tracking with Scott F. Norton; and Male Bonding mixed their upcoming SubPop album with Agnello.

Chris Shaw and Nada Surf also recently booked Joe McGinty (Psychedelic Furs, Loser’s Lounge) at Carousel Recording in Greenpoint to play and record keyboard parts on new songs. McGinty added Hammond Organ, RMI Keyboard Computer, Mass-Rowe Vibrachime, ARP Strings, Modular Moog, and Fender Rhodes to their forthcoming record. McGinty also recently recorded Piano, Hammond, Combo Organ, and others for Lianne Smith’s debut record, being produced by Anton Fier.

And Norah Jones stopped by Bryce Goggin’s Trout Recording to lay down some vocals on an upcoming So Brown record, being co-produced by Goggin and Sonia Brown and engineered by Adam Sachs.

Back in Manhattan, Carol King has been at KMA Studios mixing her upcoming holiday album with producer Louise Goffin and engineer Nathaniel Kunkel.

Also at KMA recently… Pianist Eric Lewis recorded and mixed an album with Bryan Williams engineering, Mike Posner recorded songs for his upcoming Sony album –producing/engineering the sessions himself – hit songwriters Claude Kelly and Chuck Harmony wrote/recorded for CJ Holland with engineers Ben Chang and Conrad Martin, Corey Gunz cut vocals for his upcoming Cash Money/Universal release with S. Dot engineering, and Yo Gotti recorded vocals for his album on Sony with Leo Goff engineering.

Engineer Leo Goff, Yo Gotti and KMA manager David "Roz" Rosner.

Yo Gotti’s new album – Live From The Kitchen – is scheduled for release on Sept 6th, and is expected to have guest appearances by Lupe Fiasco, Lil Wayne, Nicky Minaj, Ciara, Rick Ross, Waka Flocka and Young Jeezy.

John Lithgow was also at KMA doing voiceovers for a children’s book – Trumpet of The Swan – with Jayson Brown producing and Ian Kagey engineering for PS Classics.

Out on Long Island at  PIE Studios in Glen Cove…NYC rock band Lion in the Mane recorded a new EP, taking advantage of Pie’s Neve-equipped, George Augspurger-tuned control room and 35’ x 28’ x 18’ live room. NYC-based producer/engineer William Wittman oversaw the sessions.

Back in big town, Joe Jackson recently recorded his upcoming self-produced release at Avatar Studios with engineer Elliot Scheiner, assisted by Aki Nishimura. Other recent sessions at Avatar include… Esperanza Spalding recording her upcoming release co-produced with Q-Tip in Studio A with engineer Joe Ferla, assisted by Fernando Lodeiro; Honor Society recording on the SSL 9000J in Studio B with producer Adam Blackstone and engineer Jon Smeltz, assisted by Tim Marchiafava; and the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra recording with producer Howard Cass and engineer David Merrill.

Also in Midtown, Foreigner checked in at Threshold Recording Studios NYC to cut acoustic versions of ten of their greatest hits — Mick Jones and Jeff Pilson produced, with Jeremy Sklarsky (Freelance Whales) engineering. And Dave Eggar and Heather Holley produced a track for singer/songwriter Jacob Baine Fields at Threshold recently, also with Sklarsky at the controls.

Santigold with producer Dave McCracken, engineer Andros Rodriguez and songwriter Ian Dench in Stratosphere Studio A.

On the way west side, Santigold was at Stratosphere Sound working with songwriters Amanda Ghost and Ian Dench in Studio A. Ghost, Dave McCracken and Andros Rodriguez also worked with Daniel Merriweather in Studios A & B, and Louis C.K. was in Studio A, overseeing music recording for Season Two of his FX sitcom Louie. Ruddy Cullers engineered.

And staying on the west side, mastering engineer Vlado Meller is up and running in his new studio at Masterdisk.

Here, Meller recently mastered the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ single “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” produced by Rick Rubin and engineered by Andrew Schoeps for Warner Bros, and a Harry Connick, Jr. album, The Happy Elf, produced by Tracey Freeman and engineered by Vince Caro for Marsalis Music.

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.

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