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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.



2019 Volvo V60 Review

The 2019 Volvo V60 is the rational choice in a market of irrational crossover SUV temptations.

The 2019 Volvo V60 station wagon is a key to a club—an exclusive one, at that. It’s a compact luxury wagon for those willing to write off high-riding crossover SUVs as a trend.

Count us in that camp, which is why we rate the 2019 V60 at 7.2 out of 10 points.

It turns out that there aren’t many members of this club, which is why the 2019 V60 is a special order-only vehicle in Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription trim levels. You aren’t likely to find one sitting on a dealer’s lot, so you’ll have to be patient while Volvo builds one in Sweden and ships it to the U.S.

The V60 shares its underpinnings and engines with the XC60 crossover SUV. The XC60 also lends its 250- and 316-horsepower 4-cylinder engines and its 8-speed automatic transmission. With the lower-output turbo-4 that Volvo calls T5, the V60 comes with front-wheel drive. The 316-hp turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder in the V60 T6, all-wheel drive is mandatory.

Fine, balanced handling makes the V60 composed and confident, but it stops short of fun even with the more powerful engine.

What makes the V60 a smart choice is its utility: The V60 uses less fuel than the XC60 while paradoxically lugging more cargo in its calming interior.

Our vote is for a Momentum with the standard cloth upholstery that reminds us that less can be more when it comes to luxury. Leather is a no-cost option for traditionalists, however.

The V60 comes well-equipped for about $40,000, with options bundled into a few packages. Volvo doesn’t make its most advanced active safety tech such as an advanced adaptive cruise control system that allows limited handsfree driving and blind-spot monitors standard, but the basic feature set is solid.

An 8.0-inch touchscreen is mounted vertically like a smartphone on the V60’s dashboard. Its built-in infotainment software is comprehensive and includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, plus a pair of USB ports.

A high-riding V60 Cross Country with standard all-wheel drive and butch styling features will rejoin the V60 wagon next year with the 250-hp engine.

The 2019 Volvo V60 gets the long-roof, low-slung wagon look just right.

The 2019 Volvo V60 ties familiar Volvo themes into a well-proportioned package. We rate it at 8 out of 10, giving it two points above average for its subtly sexy exterior and another for its airy, attractive interior. 

The V60 starts out like the automaker’s S60 sedan, at least from the front seats forward. Its concave grille is mounted vertically, a nod both to Volvo’s boxy past and to European-market pedestrian impact standards. From the front seats rearward, the V60’s long roof slopes gently rearward into a tautly pulled tailgate. Big L-shaped taillights carve upward into the roof pillars, a Volvo design trait that makes the bright red LEDs easy for other drivers to see.

R-Design models have dressier touches that fuss things up a little too much for our tastes. The optional 19-inch wheels on the Momentum trim are showy enough for us.

If you’ve been in a recent Volvo, the 2019 V60 won’t hold many surprises inside. Its dashboard is dominated by a vertical 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with a single volume knob flanked by a handful of buttons below. The tall center console houses a conventional gear lever with a knurled ignition switch resting just behind. The standard aluminum interior trim is stark, but wood inlays can warm things up for an extra cost on some trims.

On Momentum trims, seats upholstered in synthetic leather and a plaid-esque cloth upholstery stand in contrast to hides ubiquitous in luxury cars. We like the tough, soft upholstery, which is less hot in summer and less cold in winter than leather. Real leather trim is a no-cost option, however.

Strong turbo- and supercharged 4-cylinder engines give the 2019 Volvo V60 sprightly acceleration.

The 2019 Volvo V60 doesn’t try to be a sports wagon or a land yacht. It lands squarely in between with good handling, strong acceleration, and a composed ride.

We rate it at 7 out of 10 for its underhood might and overall sense of composure.

Admittedly, we haven’t driven the base V60 T5 yet. That model uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 250 hp to shuttle power to the front wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. V60 T6s cost more and, thanks to their standard all-wheel drive, they weigh more. A supercharger added to the engine—yes, it’s both turbocharged and supercharged—adds an additional 66 horsepower to help scoot it along. With the T6 engine, the V60 accelerates briskly from any speed and its 8-speed automatic fires off smooth, quick shifts. The engine makes more noise than some rivals, such as the muffled Audi A4 Allroad.
The V60’s thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel is comfortable to hold and the car’s steering has good weighting and excellent on-center stability. On a curvy road, the V60 grips well but its chassis doesn’t deliver the rapid, telepathic response of sportier cars. Instead, it makes a better cruiser even on the optional 19-inch alloy wheels with their ribbon-thin sidewalls.

Volvo offers electronically controlled shock absorbers as an option. With four settings, they’re an intriguing proposition, but we haven’t driven a V60 with them yet.  

Unlike the XC60, the V60 isn’t offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, although we suspect one will eventually arrive under its hood.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Volvo V60 uses its small footprint well for good interior room and a classy, upmarket feel.

The 2019 Volvo V60 helps rekindle our love affair with wagons, something its surprisingly compact predecessor couldn’t do. The V60 is well-finished inside and has good space for four adults and their luggage.

That it’s marginally more spacious than the XC60 helps it earn 8 out of 10 points on our scale.

Volvo rarely builds an uncomfortable seat, and the V60 is no exception. The front seats are firm and supportive, with good adjustment and some of the fastest heating elements we’ve ever experienced. Second-row passengers will find good leg room with plenty of space for toes under the front seats. A wide driveline tunnel digs into the middle passenger’s leg room, however.

At the rear, the V60 holds nearly 51 cubic feet with its second row folded flat. That figure shrinks to a still-commendable 32 cubes with the rear seat upright, nearly 19 cubic feet of which is below the window line. We had no problem stuffing a mountain bike with its front wheel removed into the V60’s cargo area.

Good materials with thoughtful attention to detail abound. The standard cloth and synthetic leather upholstery is a design-savvy choice we’d make over the no-cost leather trim on the base Momentum. R-Designs have a black headliner and comparatively stark interior trim choices, while Inspirations throw in matte wood trim and light colors for an an airy feel.

The V60 offers good outward vision, even over the driver’s shoulder.

The 2019 Volvo V60 comes standard with a high level of active safety tech, but the most advanced features are costly extras.

Until federal and independent testers smack the pretty 2019 Volvo V60 into a wall or three, we  can’t assign it a safety score.

What we do know is that it benefits from a high level of standard active safety technologies, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and active lane control. Seven airbags including a knee airbag for the driver and whiplash-protection front seats are standard, too.

Blind-spot monitors and cross-traffic alerts with rear automatic braking are optional on the V60 Momentum and standard on the R-Design and Inscription trims.

A $2,500 package adds a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and limited autonomous steering assistance, active headlights, and a head-up display. Unfortunately, on Momentums, unlocking those features requires spending more than $2,000 on a package with blind-spot monitors, automatic-dimming mirrors, and a few other convenience features.

The 2019 Volvo V60 wants for little in base specification and feels downright sumptuous fully loaded.

The 2019 Volvo V60 is offered in three trim levels, each of which has its own styling and personality. We rate the lineup at 8 out of 10 for the wagon’s high level of standard equipment, its seemingly endless customizability, and its comprehensive standard infotainment system. 

The 2019 V60 Momentum is all the Volvo wagon most buyers are likely to need. Starting a hair under $40,000, it includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with two USB ports, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Power-adjustable front seats wrapped in either cloth or no-cost leather upholstery, a panoramic moonroof, and active safety tech add to its appeal.

All-wheel drive costs a hefty $4,500 more but includes a 66-hp bump and heated front seats. Plenty of paint and interior colors ensure that few V60s will look alike, while a host of packages pile on luxuries. We’d opt for the Premium Package for about $2,000; not for its surround-view camera system and automatically dimming mirrors, but because it’s a gateway to a $2,500 package with adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors.

The V60 R-Design costs $5,000 more than the Momentum and brings a sport-tuned suspension, blind-spot monitors, softer nappa leather, and a few other features to the party.

With an unlimited budget, we’d probably skip that model and go for the divine V60 Inscription. It’s all-wheel-drive only and costs more than $50,000 to start, but it wants for little—aside for $2,500 worth of advanced safety tech and $2,200 worth of softer leather with cooled and massaging front seats. A loaded V60 wagon tickles $60,000, but seems worth the big cash.

One important note: Volvo dealers don’t stock the V60. If you want one, you’ll need to order it. Picking one up at the factory in Sweden is an appealing option for those with time on their hands. A factory delivery V60 is less costly because it arrives in the U.S. as a used car (you’re the one who used it, though) and isn’t subject to heftier new-car tariffs.

Volvo has not yet announced how much the V60 Cross Country will cost when it goes on sale next year.

Fuel Economy
Thrifty 4-cylinder engines mean the 2019 Volvo V60 is a relatively eco-friendly choice.

The 2019 Volvo V60 isn’t offered with a fuel-sipping plug-in hybrid powertrain, but its 4-cylinder engines are modest consumers of premium unleaded.

We rate the V60 at 5 out of 10.

With front-wheel drive, the V60 T5 is rated at 24 mpg city, 36 highway, 28 combined.

Adding all-wheel drive also means Volvo swaps in a turbo- and supercharged version of the V60’s 4-cylinder engine. It’s more powerful but also more of a guzzler at 21/31/25 mpg.


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