Stephen Mejias

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Stephen Mejias  |  Sep 16, 2013  |  12 comments
In our September issue, I wrote about Pioneer’s excellent SP-BS22-LR loudspeaker. At just $129.99/pair (and often discounted), the SP-BS22-LR represents extraordinary value and may very well attract a wider and younger audience to true high-fidelity sound. The only thing I don’t really like about the speaker is its tongue-twister of a name. (But that’s easy to forgive. Most people can’t pronounce my name, either.)

While preparing the review, I took the opportunity to ask Andrew Jones, Pioneer’s chief engineer, a few questions about hi-fi, music, and loudspeaker design. As always, Jones was forthright and charming; his answers to my questions were often enlightening.

Stephen Mejias  |  Sep 13, 2013  |  3 comments
Julianna Barwick has released a live video for “The Harbinger,” from her new album, Nepenthe.

Curiously, the album version always—always—reminds me of the opening chorus to The Rolling Stones’ 1969 hit, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Here, though, whatever hint of triumphant rock’n’roll that may exist in “The Harbinger” is replaced by the impressionistic strokes of cold, windblown colors and sheer textures. We hear the crunch of gravel beneath footsteps, the lapping of waves, sniffles, the chimes of an iPhone—all of these elements are captured, looped, and folded into the piece.

Stephen Mejias  |  Sep 12, 2013  |  2 comments
Volcano Choir’s sophomore record, Repave, was released by Jagjaguwar on September 3rd. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver returns as lead vocalist.

I was disappointed by the band’s 2009 debut, Unmap, which felt more like a Bon Iver side project, made of fragments and sketches that promised greatness—and had some great moments—but rarely delivered the kind of focused and resolved songs that I had hope for. I liked Unmap, but I wanted to love it—and I didn’t.

Repave, though, is something different. If Unmap was the sound of a band finding its way, Repave is a band that has arrived, fully formed and full of joy. There’s an interesting story behind the making of Repave, which you can hear in this ten-minute documentary.

Stephen Mejias  |  Sep 06, 2013  |  14 comments
By now, you’re familiar with Record Store Day, the annual event that celebrates independent record stores and vinyl records. Now, we can celebrate another special music format: the cassette! The first Cassette Store Day will be held tomorrow, Saturday, September 7th.
Stephen Mejias  |  Sep 05, 2013  |  1 comments
On October 1st, Poon Village will release Five American Percussion Pieces by William Winant.

Those familiar with Winant’s work may be surprised to learn that this is the first album released under the percussionist’s own name. Those unfamiliar with his name are nevertheless likely to have heard Winant’s work.

Stephen Mejias  |  Aug 23, 2013  |  13 comments
Julianna Barwick's new album, Nepenthe, is available now. Photo: Shawn Brackbill.

I’ve been so happily preoccupied with my review of NAD’s new D 3020 integrated amplifier that I’ve again fallen behind on my “Payday Albums” posts. My review of the D 3020 will appear in our November issue. I used many of the albums listed below as demo material for that review.

It’s been a seriously great time.

Stephen Mejias  |  Aug 08, 2013  |  2 comments

All the details, from the website of the New York Public Library, with critical commentary from me:

Stephen Mejias  |  Aug 07, 2013  |  2 comments
Moderat is made of Apparat’s Sascha Ring and Modeselektor’s Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary; as the album title suggests, II is their sophomore release. This is no slump, however, and the music these men make together is seamless and true: It does not sound like two distinct visions forced together, but instead reflects a natural progression of shared ideas, a tangle of conflicts, tensions, and parallels brought together to create something exhilarating.
Stephen Mejias  |  Aug 06, 2013  |  0 comments
Matana Roberts is a rare talent—a saxophonist, storyteller, and singer with a distinct voice and powerful vision. Her 2011 release, Coin Coin, Chapter One: Gens de couleur libres, shocked me with its uncompromising combination of beauty and violence. Listening to it—anyhow, anywhere—is a singularly moving experience. My complete review of Coin Coin, Chapter One appeared in Stereophile’s November 2011 issue and I later named it one of my favorite records of that year. It sticks with me still as one of the most thrilling and seemingly important records I’ve ever heard.

Today, Constellation Records announced Roberts’ follow-up, Coin Coin, Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile, to be released on October 1.

Stephen Mejias  |  Jul 10, 2013  |  2 comments
David Lynch's The Big Dream will be released by Captured Tracks on July 16th. If Crazy Clown Time, David Lynch's successful 2011 solo debut, is any indication, we're in for a surreal and haunting treat: heavy starlit skies, empty highways, torch songs, and reverb-drenched blues. You can ask Michael Lavorgna about that.
Stephen Mejias  |  Jul 09, 2013  |  2 comments
I've been enjoying Julia Holter's Loud City Song. Mark your calendars: The album, Holter's third, will be released by Domino Records on August 20th. Previously, we heard the delicate opener, "World."
Stephen Mejias  |  Jun 28, 2013  |  12 comments
It’s been just over a month since my last Payday Albums post, but it feels much longer than that. I had been trying to spend less money on records, so that I could actually spend more time listening to the records that stood quietly on my shelves. A valiant endeavor, if I do say so myself, but one that didn’t really work out as intended: Instead of spending money on records, I spent money on books. I almost posted a Payday Books list, but I figured the grumpy old audiophiles would stone me for reading.
Stephen Mejias  |  Jun 24, 2013  |  1 comments
Simple, beautiful, majestic: The video for Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Despair," the second single from their recently released Mosquito, has the band on top of the Empire State Building, rocking joyously as the sun rises over the unreal city.
Stephen Mejias  |  Jun 17, 2013  |  6 comments
"My life would be worthless without music," says one young member of the Landfill Harmonic, a music program for the children of Cateura, Paraguay.
Stephen Mejias  |  May 30, 2013  |  9 comments
Aidan Baker. Photos: Leah Buckareff.

Aidan Baker’s Already Drowning is our “Recording of the Month” for June 2013. In preparation for our review, I asked Baker a few questions about the album. We discussed literary and musical influences, the songwriting and recording process, and the importance of sound.—SM