For many dubstep fans, Mt. Eden was the gateway into the wonderful world of 140bpm bliss. Tracks like “Sierra Leone” and “Beautiful Lies” captivated many an aspiring bass head back in 2009. Four years later, the New Zealand duo of Jesse and Harley are still plugging along, this time around with a seven track EP signed to Ultra Records.
Walking On Air is as delicate as its name implies. The EP is pervaded by airy, atmospheric soundscapes of caressing strings and melting pads. “Airwalker,” the EP’s lead single featuring Diva Ice, is arguably its strongest output, however the re-imagining of “Sierra Leone” is sure to conjure some pleasant nostalgia. “Chasing” and “Flipmode” don’t quite achieve the effect of their vocal-driven counterpart, but “Drive” and “Lights Still On” help round out the EP as two compelling instrumental tracks of a more experimental nature. Ultimately, Walking On Air is an enticing selection of new material from a duo many still hold fond in their recent memory.
As far as unexpected encounters with wild animals go, squirrels don't normally rate. The furry little nut-smugglers are omnipresent fixtures in my neck of the woods - literally - so a chance meeting doesn't warrant caution the way a bear or even an ornery raccoon might. But one's list of priorities can't help but change a bit at 175 miles per hour. That was exactly the case when I drove this Aston Martin's predecessor, the DBS, a few years ago.
I was hammering around a closed course - Ford's Romeo proving grounds - on the company's high-banked 5-mile long track, 25 mph shy of the double ton, when a little red dot appeared on the surface of the track, far up the straight. It was a squirrel, which, lacking the good sense not to be on the track at that particular moment, was at least smart enough to flatten itself into a pancake (perhaps it heard the Aston's mighty V12 closing in). I prayed it wouldn't dart from its adjacent lane into mine, because at my closing speed, I figured I wouldn't have time to retaliate. Naturally, the kamikaze rodent skittered on its stomach directly into my trajectory at the last minute, leaving me no choice but to issue a critical hair's breadth correction at the wheel. Roadkill manufacturing is normally a momentary wince-inducing affair - a grimace, a quick appeal for the universe's forgiveness - and then on with one's day. Yet in a car as low as an Aston Martin, at the velocity I was traveling, a bit of fur flying and battered karma would've been the least of my concerns.
The squirrel, the DBS and I all survived to fight another day, and that 175-mph run still stands as my own personal v-max. The Aston's high-speed stability and steering saved my bacon that morning, but in truth, I wasn't that impressed with the car overall. So it was with some consternation that I took possession of this 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish, its replacement killer.Permalink | Email this | Comments
There was a time not so long ago when opting for a base Ford Mustang meant getting little more than some sheetmetal, an anemic four-cylinder engine and what may very well have been the world's most disappointing automatic transmission. During the Fox Body years, Ford seemed hell-bent on living up to Carroll Shelby's derogatory description of the coupe as little more than a runabout for demure office assistants, and the result was a base model with fewer sporting intentions than a Dilbert day calendar.
Some 20 years later, hopping behind the wheel of an entry-level pony is an entirely different experience. With all of the menacing aesthetics of the brawnier GT, a well-equipped interior and a drivetrain that toes the line between efficiency and power better than few before it, the 2013 Ford Mustang V6 is an attractive option for buyers in the big coupe market. But is it attractive enough to forgo the beastly GT?
Note: The Mustang shown in these photographs differs from the model we reviewed. The review model was a 2013 V6 Coupe Premium, while the pictured model is a 2013 V6 Coupe with the optional Performance Package. We regret the discrepancy, but circumstances left us with only this model to shoot.Permalink | Email this | Comments
I'm probably ill-suited to accurately and fairly take the full measure of a vehicle like the 2013 GMC Acadia Denali. This is a machine conjured around the express notion of corralling and then herding a brood of rafter-swinging hatchlings to and fro in relative comfort, and with no such passel of wee Bowmans to call my own, it's difficult to give this rig a fair shake. While I can certainly weigh cargo capacity, legroom and fuel economy stats with the best of them, I'd be lying to your face if I said the word "crossover" didn't urge some uncontrollable Pavlovian recoil from the murky recesses of my frame. To put it simply, I just can't stand the damn things.
As a rule, the segment is built on a bed of compromise. Manufacturers love nothing more than to spin up a tired yarn about the virtues of this particular neck of the market. We're told the crossbreeds deliver all the ride quality, driving dynamics and fuel economy of a car married with the seating position, capability and interior volume of the SUV set. That all sounds as swell as a sunset, but as the 2013 Acadia Denali so artfully illustrates, the advertising on the box is rarely congruous with the prize inside. Even with an imaginary squad of younglings at my heels, the refreshed luxury crossover doesn't quite manage to scratch the promised itches.Permalink | Email this | Comments
If ever there were an award for the most bastardized label in the automotive world, the Gran Turismo/Grand Touring/GT moniker would be an easy frontrunner. Once reserved solely for sporty coupes, the GT letters have taken a big hit over the years, but things got downright embarrassing with the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. For 2013, Hyundai is helping to muddy the waters even further by slapping a GT badge onto the hatchback version of its top-selling model, the Elantra.
In the case of the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT, though, this name is just recycling the Elantra GT name from the early 2000s, albeit on a more stylish, modern and all-around better five-door. Hyundai has created quite a competitive lineup since its Fluidic Sculpture design language hit the market, but one area that it has paled in comparison to rival automakers is in the hatchback department. With a plethora of budget-minded compact cars currently on sale, Hyundai now finds itself in the unique position of being the only automaker to offer a compact sedan, coupe and hatchback with the 2013 Elantra. Still, with the compact segment more crowded than a public school classroom, we spent a week with the new Elantra GT to see how it stacks up against the hatchback competition.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Over the past three years, My Life Every Day, or LED Presents, has grown into San Diego’s leading dance music purveyor. While their New Years’ Eve show is renowned on its own, LED took the opportunity to capitalize on Memorial Day Weekend, throwing an all-out two day festival featuring A-Trak, Feed Me, Brodinski, Gesaffelstein, Axwell, Diplo, Martin Solveig and more. Dancing Astronaut was there to capture all the action of Day 1, from Digitalism, to Baauer, to A-Trak, to special guest Feed Me and French standouts Brodinski and Gesaffelstein. Click past the break for a full Day 1 review.
I arrived at the San Diego Sports Arena just in time to catch Congorock serving up some sputtering house offerings. With a set pervaded by pounding, distorted kick drum tracks such as “Boy Oh Boy,” “Wakanda,” and his own “Bless Di Nation,” Congorock’s set was like an anachronistic tribal dance.
Digitalism followed next, constructing a steady and absorbing progressive house set. Aside from dropping their own originals such as “Zdarlight,” “Blitz,” and collaboration with Tommy Trash “Falling,” the German duo showcased their respect for Eric Prydz, opening with his remix to “Circles” and later playing his remix to “Midnight City.”
Next came one of the best sets of the night, as LED’s special guest Feed Me took the stage for what may have been one of his last sets on the West Coast for a while. With an embellished, yet appropriate extended piano intro, Feed Me introduced himself to the San Diego Sports Arena with a jolting, minimally-layered house drop. Feed Me’s Matilda Remix of “Love Is All I Got” came next, complimenting catchy lyricism with a crunching electro drop. A few tracks later, Feed Me captivated the entire venue with both his progressive house masterpiece “Relocation” and revered dubstep track “Blood Red.” It was this careful balance of elegant interludes with crushing releases of energy that easily won the crowd over.
Feed Me’s ability to mix between genres was keenly displayed, as he brought “Blood Red” down from 140bpm to 110 to segue into a midtempo torrent with “One Click Headshot,” “Pink Lady” and more. “Rat Trap,” Feed Me’s colossal unreleased trap production, got an overwhelming response from the crowd, but his forthcoming Tasha Baxter dubstep collaboration “Ebb & Flow” was easily my favorite.
Baauer came next, opening with his highly acclaimed Just Blaze collaboration “Higher” as well as a bit of dubstep with Flux and Major Lazer’s “Jah No Partial.” Early in the set, the trap phenom showcased his adoration for RL Grime, mixing into Grime’s remix of “Satisfaction,” only to drop it into the RL Grime and Salva remix of “What a Shame.” Later came RL Grime’s new remix of “Love Sosa,” also a highlight of the set. Throughout the hour, Baauer merged through tracks at a breakneck pace, furiously bobbing his head all the while and keeping the audience entertained with his own trap originals and diverse selections from UZ, Dismantle, and Flume.
Turntablist virtuoso and Fool’s Gold czar A-Trak followed, dishing up the most technical set of the night. Starting off early with some Mord Fustang, A-Trak dropped a four bar sample of Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic,” receiving an immediate reaction from the crowd. “Tuna Melt” led into a double build up with Tommy Trash’s “Truffle Pig,” while Gent and Jawns’ “Turnup” inspired some serious shoulder dipping. Clinical sampling and emboldened scratching pervaded A-Trak’s entire set, as he finished off with an improvised scratching outro to “Heads Will Roll.”
As A-Trak dazzled the crowd with tweaks, chirps, and scribbles, Gesaffelstein could be seen sitting cross-legged below the decks, coolly watching A-Trak wrap up his performance. Though the set times listed Brodinski and Gesaffelstein spinning separate sets, the two Frenchman made the conscious decision to perform back-to-back for an hour and a half.
I’d heard first hand accounts of their supremacy behind the decks, yet had never had the pleasure of succumbing to their deviant ways myself. It was 2:30am when Brodinski and Gesaffelstein plugged in for their set, and something told me the timing couldn’t have been better.
The Bromance duo began their set with nearly two minutes straight of monotonous, marching-band percussion. The anxiety was palpable, and I was admittedly worried. Finally the break came, and with it, the beat. And the beat was dark, and it was mean. It was minimal, yet dense and feisty. It was everything I needed in the lethargic, musty-rave after hours. As the beat chugged along, two orange circles sporadically blinked in the darkness of the shrouded stage. This illuminated inhalation of their cigarrettes had a calming effect, as if they had everything under perfect control.
Their figures dimmed in the 3:00am light, the Bromance potentates continued to breeze through plump techno offerings like “Control Movement,” “Viol” and “Let the Beat Control Your Body.” The quiet spaces preceding some of the drops would stretch on indefinitely. The two would stand motionless, waiting for the crowd to absolutely beg for it. Suddenly, three quick taps on the cue button from Brodinski and a snaking techno beat would descend upon the crowd.
With the introduction of each new layer, Brodinski would swiftly lift both arms, throwing the beat upon us as he thrusted the volume fader forward. With a clocklike swing of the hips, Brodinski subtly grooved along while his partner in crime, Gesaffelstein, maintained his cool demeanor, sampling and scratching with a masterful ease. Every now and then, a powerful kick-snare broken beat would signal the dawning of a polished hip-hop track, providing a break from the steady industrial punch of the French techno. It was 4:00am when the duo brought the beat to a halt, but in the groggy late night dusk of the arena, I could have swung to their music for at least another hour.
LED’s USA was not your typical lineup. From deeper sets by Digitalism and Feed Me, to raucous selections by Congorock and Baauer, to the sheer technical prowess of A-Trak, Brodinski, and Gesaffelstein, it was night of compelling musical variety. Hats off to LED for another fantastic event. We’ll be back soon, San Diego.
The nicest thing you can say about any gadget is that it changed the way you use that type of gear for the better. The 928 did that for me with smartphone cameras. It will for you, too, probably. It's just a shame that the phone it calls home doesn't live up to the design standards we're used to—especially from Nokia.
What Is It
A smaller, lighter version of the Lumia 920, with the great same camera, only upgraded with a Xenon flash for still photos.
The 928 is made of the by-now familiar polycarbonate that Nokia uses for most of its handsets. It's boxier than previous Lumias, with a hard line around the back edge, whereas the previous Finnish flagships have typically rounded. On the white model it has the nice effect of making the Lumia like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The contrast of the all-black face on the white body is also especially striking.
One nitpick is that the Verizon logo on the face, displacing the usually-centered Nokia logo at the top of the screen, is just damn ugly. As always, Verizon makes everything worse.
No complaints about the 928 performance-wise. If you've used Windows Phone 8 and like it, you'll love this phone. It's fast (same guts as the 920), and has a gorgeous screen. That bears stressing, actually. The blacks are extremely black, to the point that the same colors—the home screen, for example—don't look remotely close to how they do on some other very nice phone screens, like the 920. That theoretically hurts the 928 a bit for daytime viewing under sunlight, but Windows Phone naturally bumps up your brightness when it detects a bright day, so it's fairly usable under all but the sunniest conditions.
You will, however, notice some quirks of the build that we're not really used to seeing from Nokia. The seam between the screen and the body on the side isn't as, well, seamless as it has been on other Lumias. It feels like you might be able to peel it off with your fingernail. The bottom of my unit creaks like a floorboard when pressed on; other reviewers' units I've seen make similar noises in other places. The illuminated Windows logo/home screen on both units we have in the office is chipped from the inside. And so on. Even the weight distribution is odd. The boxy look is beautiful to look at, but the corners are a little sharper than many phones. This isn't a problem with a light phone like the HTC 8X, but with the still heavier-than-most 928, it's slightly (slightly) uncomfortable digging into your palm while you hold it one-handed and look at the screen.
These are all relatively minor things, but they add up. The Lumia 928 doesn't feel "cheap" like so many old and regrettable Android phones used to, but it feels less than premium. It feels like the affordable version of a flagship, not the flagship itself.
The camera, though, and the flash in particular, makes up for almost all of this. The flash is wonderful. The 928's prowess in low light is rightly celebrated, but that's only necessary, really, because LED flashes on smartphones are god awful. It's good, and far better than anything else on a phone, but still not ideal. The 928 has a Xenon flash for its still photos, and it's made me actually take my phone out of my pocket for photos at night or in dark rooms. The photos are warm, sharp, and represent color accurately. You can see a collection of our sample shots here.
Battery life isn't awful, but if you're cranking away streaming music and communication, you'll run it down inside four or five hours. For more regular use cases, it'll last most of a day in your pocket. In a world where all cell phone batteries sort of suck, its 2000mAh (same as the 920) battery performs better than most—but it's no Hercules, like, the Droid Razr Maxx HD.
The screen is beautiful, and the camera is as great as the 920, which we love. And that flash is a totally transformative feature if you go out at night a lot.
Also, it's a hundred bucks. These days that's pretty close to pocket change for a top-tier smartphone.
This is not the build quality we’ve come to love from Nokia. There are also still some frustrating things with Windows Phone 8 that will hopefully get addressed in WP8.1, but you should probably hold off until that's out (and on the 928) before assuming anything.
The 928's buttons (volume rocker and power button on the right side, with a dedicated camera button a bit lower) are nicely designed, and effective, but just a millimeter or two too shallow away from being perfect.
Should You Buy This?
Probably not right now. Windows Phone is getting much, much better, and it will be getting some more improvements this summer with Windows Phone 8.1, but since we're just a few months away from that, you may as well wait and see.
Further, this is a mid-cycle upgrade from Nokia. It released the 920 more than half a year ago, and the 928 has the same guts, just with a better screen, a different, lighter body, and the new flash. Those are GREAT upgrades, but you'll likely be seeing this same great camera and flash in a new top-tier phone, launched with the new Windows Phone software sooner rather than later.
In the meantime though, if you need-need a new phone right now, want to try WP, and the camera is a priority, yes, definitely check this out. At the very least, at $100 it's a cheaper option than what you'll find in Android and iOS land.
Nokia Lumia 928 Specs
• Network: Verizon
• OS: Windows Phone 8
• CPU: 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4
• Screen: 4.5-inch 1280x768 PureMotion OLED (334PPI)
• RAM: 2GB
• Storage: 32GB
• Camera: 8.7MP rear / 1.2MP front
• Battery: 2000 mAh
• Dimensions: 5.24 x 2.71 x 0.44 inches
• Weight: 5.71 ounces
• Price: $100 with a two-year contract