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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.

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2019 Toyota Yaris Review

2019 Toyota Yaris Review
The 2019 Toyota Yaris sedan now comes in three flavors, and that's a boon in our eyes.

The 2019 Toyota Yaris sedan takes pint-size four-doors in a new direction. A nip and tuck for the 2019 model year gives the subcompact sedan revised exterior styling, while the lineup now includes three trim levels capped by a range-topping XLE with leatherette upholstery and a few swanky features not typically seen in small cars.


The 2019 Yaris sedan—which was called the Yaris iA last year and the Scion iA two years ago—is the four-door counterpart to the Yaris hatchback. Yet all is not as it seems at first glance since the sedan was designed and is built under contract by Mazda. That means it shares little with the Yaris hatchback—a boon to enthusiasts thanks to Mazda’s sporty car know-how.

So far, Toyota has only detailed the 2019 Yaris sedan; we don’t know if any changes are in store for the hatchback, but we’ll update this space once we find out.

Outside, the Yaris sedan has a revised front fascia with a new honeycomb-style grille insert. The narrow four-door has some design cues shared with the Mazda 3, which isn’t much of a surprise since this Toyota-badged small car is sold as the Mazda 2 in some global markets.

Inside, the Yaris sedan is again a dead-ringer for a Mazda. Every switch, knob, and lever is supplied by Mazda and differs from that seen on other Toyotas. That’s no bad thing, since the Yaris sedans we’ve driven have felt well-built and feature interior materials a step above what’s typical for subcompact cars. The Yaris sedan is tight inside, with limited rear-seat room, but that’s not unexpected given its trim exterior dimensions. The only caveat? The Yaris hatchback offers better utility than the sedan.

All Yaris sedans have a 1.5-liter inline-4 engine underhood rated at 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque paired to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic.
We haven’t driven the 2019 Yaris sedan, but the styling and lineup changes for 2019 are unlikely to change our opinion: it’s a hoot to put through its paces. Its taut suspension is a big step above typical subcompact sedans and its direct, linear steering is as communicative as some sports cars costing five times as much.

Both transmissions have earned our favor in the past, especially the slick-shifting 6-speed manual.

For 2019, the Yaris sedan’s fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 30 mpg city, 39 highway, 34 combined with the manual and 32/40/35 with the optional automatic.

2019 Toyota Yaris sedan lineup
The biggest changes for 2019 come on the ordering sheet, since the Yaris sedan is now offered in three trim levels: L, LE, and XLE.

The Yaris L serves as the gateway to the lineup with its 7.0-inch infotainment screen, power windows and locks, and Bluetooth. The LE trim adds heated exterior mirrors with LED turn signals, alloy wheels, and fog lights. Topping the line, the XLE adds leatherette seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, LED headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Toyota hasn’t announced pricing for the updated Yaris sedan, so we’re not sure how the value story will work out for the new lineup.

Standard safety gear on all Yaris sedans includes automatic emergency braking, six airbags, and stability control. Unlike the automatic emergency braking system standard in the Yaris hatchback, the Mazda-supplied collision-avoidance tech is limited to lower, city speeds.

Last year’s Yaris iA performed well in crash-testing, but didn’t earn the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick award because of its poor-performing headlights. It’s possible that the new LED units fitted to the Yaris XLE will correct this demerit, but the IIHS hasn’t evaluated it yet.

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