Stephen Mejias

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 08, 2011 1 comments
Lately, when I’ve been hungry for some good, uncomplicated, headshaking, soul-lifting songwriting, the kind that drops from the summer sky like a sudden shower and leaves a rainbow in its wake, I’ve turned to Slave Ambient, the sophomore release from The War On Drugs.

Recorded over the last four years in front man Adam Granduciel’s home studio in Philadelphia, Jeff Ziegler’s Uniform Recording, and Echo Mountain in Asheville, NC, the album is a drive to the ocean, windows down, head back, shades on. Acoustic and electric guitars, synthesizers, drums, and Granduciel’s voice, rambling and drifting and howling, together recalling heat waves, long days, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 07, 2011 9 comments
Ladies love the Linkski Design Exposed loudspeakers.

At pretty much the same time (just around noon on Wednesday), five lovely women sent me pretty much the same e-mail:

“Have you seen these?” they asked. “I want them,” they said.

I had not seen them, but they are beautiful. We can learn from this. There must be a lesson hidden here. But what? Girls like concrete? Girls like it raw and rough?

Let’s read from the press materials. Perhaps we’ll find some clues. The designer, 29-year old Shmuel Linski, says:

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 30, 2011 12 comments
Throw your hands in the air!

In our July issue, I open “The Entry Level” by discussing some recent nights spent with my dear friends, Natalie and Nicole, dancing and drinking and laughing at our favorite local bar, Lucky 7, in downtown Jersey City. I go on to discuss the loneliness I sometimes feel when the night is over and the time has come to walk back home, beneath the pale yellow light of streetlamps and through the neon-puddled streets.

I know that sounds sad and all, but, come on, I’m writing about music. I’m trying to be evocative, emotional, musical. When I go on to mention that Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” plays over and over in my mind as I walk past Hollywood Fried Chicken, I’m obviously being silly, right? I’m mixing pathos and absurdity to create a fun and interesting read.

Everything I write is true, to some extent, but everything is not necessarily the stuff that makes up reality. I take scenes from my life and bend them, distort and manipulate them, leaving room for insinuation and ambiguity, in order to create compelling stories. I attempt to relate those stories to music and hi-fi. I do it for my own pleasure, and I hope it brings you pleasure, too.

(Don't worry: The stuff I write about sound, however, is all as accurate and straightforward as I can possibly make it.)

Anyway, I think it was my July issue column that got some people talking over at the Audio Asylum, the popular online forum for hi-fi enthusiasts. Regor Ladan started the tread. He wrote:

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 21, 2011 4 comments
If Fleet Foxes were to trade their acoustic guitars for synthesizers and drum machines, move from the grassy fields to the dance clubs, and lighten up a bit, they might sound something like When Saints Go Machine. The Danish four-piece’s debut album, Konkylie, is an alluring mix of pure pop, misshapen chamber, and electronic music. It is odd, lovely, infectious, and confounding—and I keep coming back to it.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 21, 2011 4 comments
I say this all the time, but I’ll say it again: I cannot keep up with all of the great new music that’s being released. It’s coming from all over the world, it’s beautifully packaged, and it’s lovingly presented by people who care deeply about their relationships with the artists and the listeners. This is a wonderful time for music, and, therefore, a wonderful time for hi-fi.

Today, I’m listening to Jannick Schou’s Act of Shimmering, a new vinyl-only release limited to 300 copies and made available by Experimedia, a home for sounds that reliably fascinate, enthrall, enrich.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 20, 2011 4 comments
Madlib finds himself surrounded by vinyl. Photo: Stones Throw Records.

David Gilbert from Italy sends this link to images of famous people (and beasts), from Bill Clinton to Chewbacca, spending quality time with their LPs. And Wes Phillips shares a wonderful Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, in which Calvin’s dad teaches his son a lesson about RPMs.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 20, 2011 4 comments
Every young audiophile could use a mentor. In my position here at the magazine, I am fortunate to have about two dozen of them. They give me inspiration, criticism, advice, the heebie-jeebies, and sometimes even gifts. Most recently, Uncle Art sent me a couple of really neat gifts: A lovingly used Dynavector DV10x5 high-output moving-coil cartridge and a tough-looking Rega torque wrench.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 17, 2011 6 comments
On Thursday, June 16, Zentripetal Duo performed live at DeVore Fidelity's Monkeyhaus.

It’s not unusual to enjoy great music at DeVore Fidelity’s Monkeyhaus, but that music usually comes from LPs, loudspeakers, and tube amplifiers. Last night was a different story: While we did listen to music on the hi-fi, we were also treated to the special, comforting sounds of live, unamplified music. Zentripetal Duo (violinist Lynn Bechtold and cellist Jennifer DeVore) played three pieces—Gene Pritsker’s C17H21NO4 (the molecular formula for a drug popular among hipsters, baby boomers, and Wall Street tycoons), Astor Piazzolla’s "Violetas Populares," and Dan Cooper’s Design Duo.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 17, 2011 4 comments
The video for Helado Negro's "Regresa" is like a snapshot of my awesome life: Taxidermy, dancing, making out, and Spanish vocals. The only things missing are meatloaf and Brussels sprouts.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 10, 2011 12 comments
Do you own any warped records? I do, unfortunately. It’s always a major disappointment to find that a promising new record is warped. You could take it back to the store, of course, but who’s got time for that? Most often, I wind up keeping those sad, warped records, but I rarely play them. No fun, no fun.

I’ve often wondered about the Furutech Disc Flattener, but $2000 is a lot of money to spend on what is, essentially, an accessory.

So, I’m anxious to learn more about the new Vinyl Flat Record Flattener ($129.95). From the website:

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 10, 2011 14 comments
The July 2011 issue of Stereophile is now on newsstands. A quick look at the cover should tell you a lot about what the issue has to offer: New speakers from Sony, Thiel, Rethm, Audience, and Harbeth; integrated amplifiers from NAD, Micromega, and JoLida; digital file players from Decibel, Pure Music, and Amarra; a state-of-the-art preamplifier from Ypsilon; a new set of Robert Johnson 45rpm discs.

In order to put together an interesting and competitive issue, John Atkinson strives to create a magazine that he would want to read. Taking a look at this issue’s cover, I feel fairly certain that were I to come across it on some newsstand, I would pick it up, flip through its 140 pages, take it over to the cash register, plop down the $6.99, take the lovely thing home with me, and devour it.

You?

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 09, 2011 1 comments
The August issue ships to press tomorrow. Somehow, despite nasty computer viruses, similarly nasty sinus infections, trips to Los Angeles, Denver, and Munich, and a terribly unforgiving production schedule, we managed to get the book out on time—miraculous!

Today, then, is a relatively quiet day in the office. And I like it.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 08, 2011 1 comments
Charms swiped from Jersey City's Kanibal Home

Here’s the new video for Gaslight Anthem’s “Bring It On,” from last year’s American Slang. Gaslight Anthem is a New Jersey band who’ve done pretty well for themselves, and that’s just about all I know about them. I’ve listened to this song a few times now, and my feelings remain the same:

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 07, 2011 0 comments
More to get excited about: FatCat Records, the Brighton, UK-based label, home to some of my favorite bands and artists (Hauschka, Animal Collective, Black Dice, Johann Johannsson, Sylvain Chauveau, to name a few), has announced the new Palmist imprint, “a project dedicated to releasing limited, vinyl-only runs of artists we love who are home-recorded or otherwise steeped in the DIY tradition.”

The first three releases will be 12” split singles, scheduled for US release on August 16th:

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jun 06, 2011 0 comments
Klipsch Icon KB-15

Klipsch recently launched their new Icon series, a family of relatively affordable loudspeakers to be sold exclusively in Best Buy stores throughout the US. The five models include two floorstanders (KF-28, $900/pair; KF-26, $700/pair), one bookshelf (KB-15, $249/pair), one center channel (KC-25, $249 each), and one surround (KS-14, $279 each). Matching SW-350 ($350) and SW-450 ($450) subwoofers are also available at Best Buy.

Said Mark Casavant, vice president of product development for Klipsch:

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