Hoping for a Miracle

So, I arrived at home (I mean, at Wes') one night, and decided to take John DeVore's advice about popping a CD into the hi-fi as simple background noise. My plan was to listen to Smog's A River Ain't Too Much to Love while feeding the cats in the kitchen.

Yeah right. Two seconds into the album and I was hooked, captivated. Sorry, Huckleberry, dinner's gonna have to wait.

This is an album that sounds good—really damn good—over the Magnavox boombox at home. I've been aware of just how good it sounds, and so, I've even invited people over, specifically just to listen to it. And they've been impressed. Fuzzy was all like, "Dude, it sounds like he's in the room with us." And Andrea was all like, "Daaaaang, that's rad."

Seriously, yo. So, maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised when—over the Penaudio speakers with Ayre CD player and Krell amplification—the music was so much more than really damn good.

Daaaaaaaaaaang, it was magical. It was enthralling. I hate to use what might be considered an audio reviewer cliche, but there were things in the music that I simply hadn't noticed before. It's just true. There were backing vocals and whispers and wind chimes and bells and thumps and taps and all sorts of new things. It was really kind of an epiphany. Like, what the eff, dude? What have I been missing all this time? It seems to me that it's pretty important to hear the music as it was intended to be heard. I mean, Bill Callahan put those wind chimes in there for a reason. It would be nice if I could've heard them. And so, I had to just sit down, and (re-)listen to the entire thing. I think John DeVore knew this would happen.

Alright, so I've been wondering if A River Ain't Too Much to Love really is as good of a recording as I think it is, or if I'm just stupid. I mean, it could sound so good on my cheap Magnavox because it's a really bad recording, right? What I'm going to do, then, is bring it into the office and ask JA to give it a listen—see what he thinks. Also, if there's a reader out there who considers him (or her!) self an "audiophile," and you haven't already listened to A River Ain't Too Much to Love, and you're kinda sorta interested, but you don't want to go out and buy it yourself, let me know, and I'll buy one for you. For reals. Send me (stephen.mejias@primedia.com) an e-mail with your address, and I'll put the album in the mail for you. I just want to know what you think. (Offer is limited to three audiophiles. Thank you.)

Huckleberry was purring like he was about to eat me, so I got up and dished out the food. When he was finally occupied, I went back into the listening room and—with all sorts of silly hopes—I placed my band's first CD into the player.

Yeah, I was hoping for a miracle. I was hoping to hear all sorts of new and wonderful things. I was hoping that we'd sound better than ever....

Hmph, no such luck. The album sounded just about the same as it ever did. No miracles for the MPS.

"Oh well," I consoled myself, "at least it didn't make us sound worse."

Donald's picture

Chiming in to say congrats on new blog (I'm running late on commenting)! Enjoying your blog.

Monty's picture

Now, if you can enjoy listening to that disc on your boombox, you have successfully avoided contracting the audiophelia disease. I'm telling ya," it's hard to listen to music when you know there is so much more ""there"" there. It's like watching a black and white television and then experiencing color for the first time. On the bright side", since you have a relatively small listening room, the cost of filling that room with wonderful sound can be very inexpensive.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Thank you so much, Donald. I'm glad you're enjoying it.And, Monty, yes: I can certainly imagine that it'll be hard to forget what I've learned while at Wes'. But, I think I'll be able to avoid the audiophile disease for awhile longer. I've been paying attention to guys like JA, Wes, AD, ST... and you. I'm looking forward to hearing what kind of sound I can create in my own listening room. More on that soon! FUN!!!

Owen's picture

Hi Stephen (yes, it is that Owen)Ha! - back when I was in bands, I remember our latest opus, recorded by me, actually sounded a *lot* worse over proper hi-fi. I'd accidentally mixed the bass all wrong, mostly because I monitored the thing on headphones which isn't really the way.Hope all is well over there.

Stephen Mejias's picture

Yo Owen!
It's gooooooood to hear from you.One thing we learned when we mixed our last album was how important - very, very important - it is to get the bass right. It's pretty amazing. It seemed that once we had the bass right - and the relationship between the bass and the kick drum settled - everything else just kind of fell into place. I'll send you the album when it's done.
Thanks for writing.