Delivering his 1997 slab of experimental majesty Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, Jason Pierce blends fragile ballads with cataclysmic freakouts
When most of us turn to intoxicants during a major breakup, we generally wake up with a smashed smartphone full of cry-texts, a reduced number of Twitter followers and a restraining order. It takes the rarefied vision of Spiritualizeds Jason Pierce to emerge clutching one of the most dazzling works of drug-ruined desolation ever recorded.
Intricately entwining his love of roots blues, religious spirituals, free jazz, krautrock drones, Busby Berkeley strings and celestial narco-balladry, Pierces 1997 masterstroke Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space was a raw-hearted slab of experimental majesty that seemed caught in the pain of the moment as indie legend has it, the album documents how Pierce, allegedly addicted to heroin at the time, lost his partner and bandmate Kate Radley to the Verves Richard Ashcroft. Almost 20 years on, however, it still demands regular event-status performances, befitting its standing as arguably the greatest symphony of the rocknroll era. Sorry, Muse.
The decades have loosened its collar. Given the luxury of two hours, an orchestra and a gospel choir mirroring its last full performance here in 2009 Pierce, sitting stoically stage left, lets the albums alternating ballads and noise pieces ebb, flow, flounder and expand, indulging its cataclysmic freakouts and prolonging euphoric crescendos, forever chasing that exquisite first high. The opening title track swells around its harmonic gospel reworking of Elviss Cant Help Falling in Love like a 10-minute goosebump. Come Together, basically a White Album middle-eight fed amphetamines and tortured at length, stretches the sorry tale of Little Johnny who dulled the pain but killed the joy until he sounds like hes bungee-jumping into the seventh circle. The horn section cant wait to get throttling geese during the scree jazz jam at the end of Electricity.
The clash of fragility, grandeur and violence that Spiritualized would refine on subsequent albums is at its starkest here. Witness the moment where the glistening I Think Im in Love collapses into a spent heap after its funky climactic battle between confidence and doubt I think I can fly, warbles Pierce; probably just falling, sneers the choir then is swept up by flocks of cinematic strings on All of My Thoughts.
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I write about gadgets, which means everyone asks me what laptop or dishwasher or whatever to buy. I struggle with this, because the answer often starts with,“It depends.” Unless youaskabout a phone. In that case, I usuallysay get an iPhone.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Android. But the phones can be… frustrating. Clever features too often seem overwrought or poorly designed, or they’re buried beneath 15 Verizon apps on the homescreen. The iPhone is the Default Phone, the one you buy when you want a phone, not a project.
The Google Pixel changes that. It offers the look and competence of an iPhone, with a truly great camera and loads of innovative software and services. It changes my answerto the question I hear most often: What phone should you get?
You should get a Pixel.
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Google’s new phone arrivesThursday, starting at $650 for the Pixel and $770 for the Pixel XL. You can get itin blue, black, or silver, with 32 or 128 gigs of storage, from Google or from Verizon. You should buy it directly from Google, and soon. Most models already are backordered.
Not long after I got my Pixel XL, I flewto Colombia for a week’s vacation. It was a very Google-y getaway: I had a Project Fi SIM card, I kept my itinerary in Google Trips, and, given what Verizon charges for international data on my iPhone 7, I relied entirely upon thePixel because Project Fi gives standard rates in most countries.
Google Assistant is the first voice assistant that really works. You can’t take a bad picture with the Pixel. So what if it looks like the iPhone? The iPhone looks great, and so does the Pixel.
Every phone should be waterproof, and this one isn’t. Good as it is, Assistant’s hardly flawless.
Buy It Now | Google
How We Rate
I’ve always loved Android because it felt so much more alive and connected than iOS. The sharing menus are smarter and more prominent, apps refresh in the background so they’re always up to date, and widgets and notifications are useful and interactive. But iOS was always so much simpler, with shallower learning curves. It’s dictatorial, but painless. The Pixel’s software doesn’t totally close that gap. It’s still too easy to clutter your homescreens with multiple versions of the same icon, and it’s still too hard to find cool features like the thing where you can swipe down on the fingerprint reader to see your notification shade. But the Pixel is the mostcoherent and cohesive Android ever.
I’ve always been an iPhone guy, honestly. I’ve used just about every flagship Android phone ever made and always returned to Apple. That’s partly because I bought an iPhone 4S in 2011 and signed up for iMessage, and leaving iMessage is a monumental pain in the ass.But mostly I liked having a phone I didn’t have to think about. The iPhone always offers great hardware, a good camera, fantastic apps, and data security. I don’t want to worry about my phone, or spend my time tinkering with it. My phone’s too important to risk any extra effort, or worse, unreliability.
But I’m switching. For real. I’m turning off iMessage, re-buying apps, and warning friends that I probably won’t get their texts for a few days. I am a little worried about Google’s long-term commitment to this new hardware push (and the customer support that comes with it), given itspropensity for killing productsthatdon’t get billions of users. But I’m totally in love with the Pixel. I love this camera, I love Google Assistant, I love that I’ll get to use it with a comfy VR headset, I love that I finally get a version of Android that is both powerful and attractive. I love that there’s a kickass Android phone that (probably) doesn’t explode.
The immediate joke everyone, including me, made on Twitter after the Pixel launch was that Google made an iPhone. Well, that’s true. As it turns out, an iPhone running Android is exactly what I’ve been waiting for.
The Fahrenheit 9/11 director has spent the past 11 days putting together this film to explain why, though he voted for Sanders in the primary, he is going for Clinton now
Despite some reassurance from polls, many are still worried about Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton. Some deal with this anxiety through prayer, others get on the internet and rage. If you are Michael Moore, you go and shoot a movie and have it debut in New York City 11 days later to tremendous international fanfare.
Moore, the most famous thing from Flint, Michigan besides Grand Funk Railroad and poisonous water, understands more than most just how appealing a fuck you vote for Trump would be. In his new emergency film, Michael Moore in TrumpLand, he thinks his way inside the head of a dejected working-class citizen from, as he puts it, one of the Brexit states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Ohio. All states that could still swing to Trump and lead to to an upset victory.
The former Led Zeppelin frontman warned that there would be no Hobbit songs instead he rolled out an empathetic set of Americana with guests including Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Joan Baez
I keep good company now, said Robert Plant as he stood onstage at New Yorks Town Hall flanked by Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Buddy Miller.
Plants companions represent some of the most valuable players in the world of Americana, a realm the British star has eagerly adopted ever since his acclaimed collaboration with Alison Krauss on Raising Sand nearly a decade ago.
Its not just their company and music Plant has avidly pursued. Now, he has taken up one of their causes. The multi-star concert he participated in Tuesday night arrived as part of the 11-date Lampedusa tour, organized by Harris to address an increasingly alarming situation: the shows aim to raise awareness of the worldwide refugee crisis, amplified by wars raging across the Middle East and northern Africa. All proceeds from the event go to Jesuit Refugee Services Global Educational Initiative.
Lampedusa, an Italian island in the Mediterranean sea, has been a prime entry point for refugees in Europe since 2000. It has also been a place of considerable peril. Last year, nearly 1,600 migrants died en route there from Libya.
While issues so dire gave the show its urgency, the mood of the night often stressed joy through cooperation. The setup helped. Rather than honoring a strict hierarchy of stars, the main artists remained onstage throughout the night, sitting in a semicircle on chairs, taking turns performing songs round-robin style. Along with the stately names at the top of the bill, the show included equal contributions from the gifted young duo the Milk Carton Kids, a cameo for the musical comedy of Will and Grace actress Megan Mullally, as well as a special appearance at the end by the grande dame of politicized song, Joan Baez.
Toward the start and finish of the two-and-a-half hour event, songs of displacement, alienation and wandering peppered the set. Miller emphatically delivered Shelter Me, whose narrator draws on faith to guide him to safety. The Milk Carton Kids offered Hope of a Lifetime, whose lyrics chart an equally treacherous journey. Earle contributed Copperhead Road, featuring characters who try to get by on the underground economy.
Deep into the night, the theme grew more pointed. Earle sang City of Immigrants, while the Kids rendered The City of Our Lady, whose chorus declares: Everywhere we go / Were the child of where we came. Baez delivered Woody Guthries classic Deportee, about the consequences of objectifying refugees.
In the central part of the show, the subject turned to thwarted love. Harris offered Making Believe, a song she first recorded 40 years ago, whose narrator can only imagine romance. Plant went back farther to cover a sad ballad sung by Elvis Presley called Done. Here, as well as in his renditions of Little Maggie and Nothing, the Led Zeppelin yowler drew on his quietest voice, finding in its high, open tones nearly as much power as his classic shouts. In a snarky aside about his old band, Plant said he would not be performing Hobbit songs.
Throughout the night, Harris lent harmonies to other singers on the most tender points of their songs, Miller injected energy through his electric solos, while Kenneth Pattengale of the Milk Carton Kids ran rings around the tunes with his speedy and dexterous acoustic solos.
The Kids brought to the night youth, humor and the dynamism of a duo in ideal sync. Their tandem vocals inescapably recall the most delicate interplay of Simon and Garfunkel, while their banter has the dry wit of the Smothers Brothers. Their songs added prettiness to proceedings which more often emphasized the flinty and raw. Nearly the entire set list drew from Americas greatest musical resources: blues, folk and country music. The result carried a potent subtext: it presented an empathic and inclusive view of America, in contrast to the fearful and exclusive one exploited by Donald Trumps campaign. Baez referred to the show as a pocket of sanity in the current world. To her point, when a Earle song introduced the line we are all immigrants, the audience, as one, sang along.
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The fourth and final volume of these impeccably edited letters covers the years in which Beckett was lionised and won the Nobel prize, but became weary with words
In late-1960s New York, a writer and Samuel Beckett superfan called Stephen Block memorised huge chunks of Becketts novels Watt and Molloy, and had begun to worry about having adopted some of their character traits and attitudes. He wrote to the author out of desperation, not expecting a reply, but on 28 March 1968 Beckett sat down in his Paris apartment and wrote to Block, albeit to deny him what he wanted. I find it impossible to write or speak about my work, Beckett explained. My only contact with it is from the inside and Iunderstand very imperfectly the effect it has on readers and critics. The formulation is encountered again and again in his letters.
While Beckett was notoriously reticent about his work, there were exceptions. Otherwise, how could a project he stipulated be restricted to letters having bearing on my work run to four volumes and around 3,000 pages? That said, anyone hoping to find answers to the many riddles inhabiting Becketts poetry, short stories, plays and novels will not find them here. I simply know next to nothing about my work in this way, Beckett writes to the academic James Knowlson in 1972. As little as a plumber of the history of hydraulics.
Yet the letters do throw a remarkable light on the work, and the man. Not an explanatory one exactly, but one that inspires fresh interpretations. In a letter of 1976, for example, Beckett notes of the short, bleak play Footfalls that it is indeed a strange affair, perhaps unduly elliptic & elusive. But it is not aimed at the intelligence. That final clause is illuminating about the emotional content of Becketts work, and explains why he felt ill-equipped to come at it from an analytical standpoint. Something he understood about art, as well as any practitioner you might name, is that nothing outdoes mysteries that remain mysteries.
The Beckett of the years covered by this fourth and final volume of letters is lionised even before he is awarded the Nobel prize in literature in 1969. Although, in his case, the word award is wholly inappropriate: he considered the prize a threat to his creativity (I hope the work will forgive me and let me near it again). He was on holiday in Tunisia with his wife Suzanne when his publisher sent a telegram: In spite of everything they have given you the Nobel prize. Writing to his lover Barbara Bray a week later, Becketts response to his laureateship couldnt be less effusive: Here things are pretty awful and little hope of improvement.
The Nobel turned Beckett into a celebrity. Damned to fame, a line from Popes Dunciad that Beckett quotes in a letter to Knowlson, sums it up, and Knowlson used the phrase for the title of his 1996 authorised biography. But it is the announcement and eventual publication of the first biography, by Deirdre Bair, that provides one of this volumes numerous subplots. It begins with a1971 letter in which Beckett tells Bair he will neither help nor obstruct. I have nothing to say about my work, he says, as standard, before advising her to think again before you embark on such a thankless job. I find her sympathetic and believe she is anxious to do a serious job, he writes a year later, but in 1974 he notes she is not remarkable, from what I have been told, for strict veracity. The biography appeared in 1978, and a decade later Beckett is still irked, curtly advising his German translator not to translate the Bair fantasy.
If Beckett was ill-served by parts of Bairs biography, the editorship of his letters provides a model of scholarship and a masterclass in selection. No page in this volume is without a point of interest. Dan Gunns introduction (which, alongside those to the first three volumes, would make an excellent freestanding short book) explains why the editors felt able to include letters that dont strictly obey Becketts injunction on the personal. As Beckett ages, Gunn explains, and becomes less willing to manage the practical aspects of the staging of his plays, and as his writing itself seems to be drawn from some ever less public, ever more intimate, part of himself, the line between work and life, never clear, becomes less and less discernible. Think of the 1981 play Ohio Impromptu, which recalls Becketts Sunday walks with James Joyce along LAlle des Cygnes, and the prose work Company (1980), which describes painful scenes from his early life.
Beckett was one of those rare writers who continued producing at the highest standard throughout his life (the aptly titled Stirrings Still was published in 1988, when he was 82), yet he often cast himself as an artist in decline. Of me nothing tellable to tell, he writes to the poet Nicholas Rawson in 1981. I fare slowly on, in the long farewelling. And it was a long farewell; already in 1969, directing his plays right, left, and centre, and with 30 years remaining to him, he is announcing there are worse ways of finishing a life.
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The star plays yet another doctor in this new Hulu show that wants to be a tense noirish tale of a man pushed to the edge but fails to rise above cliche
It makes sense that TV relies on the same stars (Kevin James, Kiefer Sutherland, Kristen Bell) for new projects. Thats why its no shock that Hugh Laurie, who played Dr House on the super successful medical procedural for eight seasons, is back and will hopefully be bringing his audience with him to Hulu for his new thriller, Chance. But just because networks rely on the same stars, why, oh why, do they have to make the same series repeatedly?
In Chance, Laurie once again plays a doctor, Eldon Chance, this time a neuropsychiatrist in San Francisco who doesnt actually treat patients, just brings them in for evaluation before shipping them off for more in-depth services elsewhere. Because this drama is paint-by-numbers, Eldon is going through a divorce, has a teenage daughter, is suffering money troubles that cause him to question his moral code, has a murky history of transgression, and can hardly resist getting sucked into an underworld of moral questionability and crime.
At the end of the first episode, he says of himself: Of late he is increasingly aware of a mental state he finds dark and unstable. He feels he is drawn to the precipice of some new and dark reality he cant stop himself from falling. If that isnt a description of every Walter White-esque antihero to spring up in the past decade, I dont know what is.
The cause for this push towards the brink is a troubled patient, Jacqueline (Gretchen Mol), who was in the hospital because of her husbands abuse and has been experiencing blackouts and symptoms of multiple personality disorder ever since. That husband, Raymond (Paul Adelstein), is a menacing homicide cop who threatens anyone who might take his wife away.
Eldons guides through the new underworld are a slightly shady furniture dealer (Clarke Peters) and his brick shithouse of an employee (Ethan Suplee), who gets his rocks off beating the hell out of people and offers his services to Eldon to help get rid of his abusive husband problem. He even has the courtesy to audition, by beating up three dudes at once in an alley in the Tenderloin.
Laurie, with his nearly flawless American accent, is appealing as always, but his character is so nondescript and barely compelling that its hard to justify sticking around for this slow burn. We know Raymond will become more dangerous, Jacqueline will become more oblique, and Eldon will do things that he will regret and make choices that will affect his life forever. (Whats the over/under on someone threatening his daughters life before episode five?)
In fact, none of the story is that compelling, and just based on the two episodes Hulu unveils on 19 October (with subsequent new episodes each Wednesday), I cant imagine why anyone would want to see more. The pace is leisurely, the music intrusive, and it seems like co-creators Alexandra Cunningham and Kem Nunn (the show is based on Nunns book of the same name) dont have enough story to get them all the way through the 10-episode run. The tension doesnt seem like suspense, necessarily, but simply withholding information for subsequent pay offs.
Though the plot is a classic noir, the filming is brighter and more diffuse, with some interesting innovations. During one scene, when Eldon comforts Jacqueline in a caf, the camera takes turns showing each of them talking directly into the lens as if theyre confessing their emotions not to each other but directly to the audience.
However, that is one of the few strokes of genius in an otherwise bland endeavor. Otherwise were stuck with the same nice guy being compelled to do the same bad things without adding anything new or interesting to that philosophical exercise constantly played out on the tube. Hugh Laurie deserves something better and so do we.
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Switch House, Tate Modern, LondonFrom the tears of Man Ray to the Paris of Robert Frank and the manspread of Salvador Dali, this astounding collection is a history of modernist photography
Sir Elton Johns image, his glasses askew and playing up for the camera in Irving Penns 1997 portrait, greets visitors to The Radical Eye. It is an endearing gag, leaving one unprepared for an exhibition as serious as it is surprising, and which could serve as a short course in the development of photography from around 1910 to 1950. The Sir Elton John collection currently contains more than 8,000 works, and even though there are fewer than a couple of hundred here, what a selection it is.
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Tom Cruise rattles through every trope in the book as the vigilante ex-soldier, this time fleeing corrupt bosses in a high-octane sequel that revels in its absurdity
Tom Cruise is back in the role of Jack Reacher, badass military cop turned maverick civilian engaged in freelance pro bono asskicking. He is suffused with pimpernel mystery. At the end of an adventure, Reacher will stick his thumb out and hitchhike his way into the night. (At the end of Pulp Fiction, John Travolta is derisive about Samuel L Jacksons ambition to walk the earth like Caine from the TV show Kung Fu on the grounds that he would just be a bum. But maybe he would be like Jack Reacher.)
This is the second in Tom Cruises silly, entertaining Reacher franchise, and I was hoping he would marry a woman called Round and go for the double-barrelled surname. Instead, he monkishly refrains from sex but does pull a classic Cruise/Reacher move: semi-undressing in a motel room after a punchup, disclosing pecs which fall impressively on the right side of the moob borderline. An attractive woman also partially disrobes, flaunting a workaday bra strap.
Another Reacher trope is the grumpy solo meal in the scuzzy cafe, which generally comes just before or after the biggest Reacher signature of all: beating the daylights out of five or six bullies whose sneery expressions and close-cropped goatees denote imminent victim status more clearly than red shirts on Star Trek crew. Cruise also gives us his some vintage sprinting now as distinctive a trait as Nic Cages sudden shouting as well as a bit of free climbing and some Olympic-quality ledge dangling.
The story opens as Reacher has rather sweetly fallen for Lt Susan Turner, just through talking to her on the phone. She is played by Cobie Smulders (who plays Agent Maria Hill in the Avengers films). But when Jack shows up in Washington DC for their blind date, he is informed that Lt Turner has been arrested for espionage. Clearly she is the victim of a shady cover-up from corrupt top brass, and Reachers quietly furious demands to know whats going on are undermined when the army claims he is the subject of a paternity case, and that he is the dad of a stroppy teen, Samantha (Danika Yarosh). Reacher is wrongly accused of murder by the crooked authorities, and in time-honoured style goes on the run, taking his quasi-spouse and daughter, while blowing the lid off a terrible conspiracy.
The highlight of the first movie was its outrageous villain, played by Werner Herzog. I was hoping for a similar auteur bad guy in this one surely Paul Verhoeven would have been a good sport? Well, there is no juicy high-concept baddie this time around, but there is a lot of enjoyable hokum and cheerful ridiculousness, especially when Reacher has to spring someone from military prison using his trademark combo of resourcefulness and punching. Popcornily preposterous and watchable.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us
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The lowly cooler is the last thing I would have ever expected to become a hipster status symbol. But Yeti has managed to make it happen, by transformingthe beverage chiller from a utilitarian device into a fashion accessory.
The Yeti Hopper Flip 12, like the rest of its Hopper line, is a soft-side cooler, which makes for a generally more comfortable userexperience than a typical hard-side cooler. As with all coolers of this sort, the Hopper Flip 12 closes witha zipper instead of a traditional flip-up lid. This introduces someplusses and minuses. With 12 quarts of capacity, this is Yeti’s smallest Hopper, a “personal” cooler with room fora 12-pack of soda, water, or beer, depending on the size and shape of the bottles andyour choice of chilling systems.
There is plenty to like about the Flip 12. It is well built and looks as good as any cooler I’ve ever toted. The lining is mildew-resistant, food-grade plastic, and the zipper is as heavy-duty as they come. Fill it, zip it, and flip it and it doesn’t leak—provided you zipitall the way. (Yeti includes a vial of ChapStick-like lubricant to make the last inch of thatoperation easier.)
You can fill the Flip 12 with ice, or use one of Yeti’s custom ice packs. This isn’t a bad move, as the four-pound Yeti Ice pack ($30) perfectly fitsthe bottom, providing a nice base upon which to build. Just note that a Yeti Ice pack itself won’t keepyour IPA cold, but it will keep the ice cold for longer.
I tested the Flip 12 againsta similarly sized, garden-variety hard-sided Igloo you can find for $13 at any Wal-Mart. I placedthe same amount of ice and the same number of sodas in each, and waited. The Yeti did a great job keeping beverages cold—not the“ice for days” the company promises, but it was a day and half until the ice meltedfully. But the $13 Igloo offered almost identical performance.
That’s a problem, because the Flip 12 costs $280, or 20 times the cost of the Igloo. Now, I won’t arguethat Yeti coolers aren’tbuilt to high standards. They may well be the most durable soft-sided coolers in the world. However, I will argue that I will never go through 20big box store coolers. Coolers get lost and bits break off, yes, but $280 coolers surely get stolen. Ultimately, this is one more thing that you’ll have to keep an eye on when you’re boogie boarding, because Yeti’s iconic colors makeit a particularly eye-catching to thieves.
The zipper is also a somewhat thorny topic. To make it waterproof, it mustbe tough, whichmakes it tough to operate. It requires a huge amount of effort to open and close the Yeti—to the point where my kids had trouble operating it. Mmaybe that’s a good thing, depending uponwhat’s inside.
5/10 – Recommended with reservations.
Apple’s recent announcement that it was releasing some goofy-looking wireless earbuds for $159 netted plenty of attention, but the geek vitriol overshadowed a key point—that Apple had developed a new wireless chip called the W1. The signaling around the W1 made it clear that this was going to change everything about wireless audio for the better, so much so that you would soon wish you never even heard of a headphone jack in the first place, philistine.
AirPods will contain the W1, but beating them to market is the Beats Solo3, a set of headphones powered by the same technology. Solo3 is of course an update to the best-selling Solo2, the more compact and wireless version of the classic Beats headphones. This on-ear model has a near-identical appearance to the prior version (the Solo3 is 10 grams heavier but is otherwise a total lookalike) and even includes the same acoustic technology as its predecessor, including noise isolation and Beats’ iconic, big bass driver.
The biggest news here surrounds the W1, which makes all other Bluetooth headphones suddenly look like a tin can and string. Designed to make pairing seamless, one button press auto-pairs the headphones not just with your iPhone but with any other iOS device you have linked up to iCloud. Controls in iOS 10 let you switch between sources with just a few taps. But the even bigger draw might be the insane range that the W1 makes possible. While a typical Bluetooth connection craps out at about 25 to 30 feet (at least in my house), the Solo3 delivered perfect sound a whopping 120 feet away from my phone. From there it stuttered, finally dying completely at 135 feet away.
Also under the hood is an upgraded battery, which is totally worth the extra 10 grams. Apple’s spec pegs the Solo3 at 40 hours (my testing found that to be understated), a vast improvement over the 12-hour life of the Solo2. In typically moderate use, you will probably be able to use these headphones for weeks without having to charge them—and when you do, the new Fast Fuel feature will give you 3 hours of run time with just 5 minutes of USB-powered juicing (works as advertised). The integrated microphone isn’t outstanding, but it’s good enough at least for a quickie phone call.
Despite all the upgrades, $300 is still an awful lot to pay for headphones, even if they are as much status symbol as audio device. (You can even get them finished in rose gold to match your fancy new phone.) Some may find the fit to be exceptionally snug, even after adjusting, and that bass can often be a bit much, particularly on songs that already have too much boom boom boom already. But when it comes to sound, the world has already divided itself into pro-Beats and anti-Beats camps. Presumably at this point, you already know who you are.
9/10 – Nearly flawless. Buy it now.
Read more: http://www.wired.com/