international

ARON MCFAUL: JUST GETTING STARTED
August 9, 2016 11:43 am

Aron McFaul is a Swedish DJ/producer currently repped by West Coast Recordings. With only one 4-track EP to his name, McFaul is a relative unknown in the sea of electronic/EDM. With fairness given to him as a new artist in a field that is tough to break through, there is clearly more work and change needed before McFaul makes a decent impression. His album Pallas Garden is uninspired and redundant to a fault, with glimmers of a solid musical ear shinning through every once in a while. If there was more work to comb through I might be able to put together a better first impression, but with only four tracks to base him on, McFaul comes up lacking.

In first and second tracks on the album (Intronational, Jam in Circles), I discovered to be entirely placeholders for the other songs. Granted, McFaul’s music may sound completely larger and magnificent through headphones (which I was not using at the moment) due to his style of layering many, many small teeny bleeps, bloops, and chrips.

Take for instance From Love, his most popular song so far with just under 9K listens on his SoundCloud, it essentially gathers all the different kinds of sounds you can use to notify yourself of a new text message on your iPhone, and mashes them together into a semi-cohesive ensemble. While absolutely creative, it’s just not my thing. Which may in part be due to the difference in nationalities; across the pond, the brand of music affectionately titled Eurotrash is wildly popular throughout. For the uninitiated, Eurotrash is more or less EDM, high BPM dance beats traditionally played in the discotheques with flashing lights and ecstasy. McFaul’s version is much more low key with less of a party atmosphere, but still borrows some of the same concepts: repetitive beats that loop and crescendo until they climax, and slowly decrescendo back into nothingness.

The final track, Taverna Times, was my favorite on the project. It features a guitar and drum-n-bass beat, the most melodic sounding song on the entire project. That being said, the song is still relatively sleepy, most akin to what you would listen to if you’re Ubering home from the club in the morning and still want to quietly rage.

Overall, I see tons of potential in Aron McFaul, I will be keenly looking to what he does next.

CAUTION: POKÉMON GO’ERS AT PLAY
July 11, 2016 1:30 pm

Never have I seen a game do what Pokémon GO is doing right now in our world. Let me paint a picture for you…

File_002 (1)

Last Saturday, my wife and I were in Rockville Square, Maryland, a hub for people and shops, and we decided to go on a walk to hunt some new Pokémon. We found a huge amount of items and Pokémon to catch on every street corner. As we meandered around looking at our phones, we slowly saw other people and groups all walking to the exact same places, on their phones, and we realized they were playing the same game, hunting for Pokémon, interacting with this augmented reality. I was surprised at how many people were there to find virtual creatures and ended up bonding in a half-real life, half-online way. It was a truly surreal moment to see everyone gather in this part of the city like that.

To break it down, Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game in which the game tracks your location and has placed various things to interact with throughout every inch of the real world. You will be brought to real places of significance. Without even trying, this app with have you walking around for an hour and visiting places in your city that you’ve never been before. Pokémon Go is broken down into three key elements, catching and training Pokémon, finding Pokéstops and battling at Poké Gyms.

File_001Catching and Training Pokémon

To catch Pokémon, you have to go looking for them. It’s fairly random, but more populated places will help you find more Pokémon. When you find a Pokémon, your camera will come on and the Pokémon will appear to be in the real world, and it’s pretty awesome. There are items like Incense and Lure to attract Pokémon to you. Also catch as many as you can of all Pokémon, you’ll need them to strengthen your Pokémon. For more tips to actually train your Pokémon and evolve them, click here.

Poké Stops

You’ll find these at various places of interest: memorials, gazebos, or gas stations. Get close enough to the Stop to snag the items there. You’ll need all the items you can get, and there are often Pokémon lurking by, so hunting for Poké Stops is an easy way to progress quickly.

Poké Gyms

After your beginning hours in the game, you choose one of three teams, Mystic (Blue), Yellow (Instinct), or Valor (Red). The gyms are fighting grounds for the different teams and here, you battle to gain control of the Poké Gym and territory for your specific team. There seems to be no overall goal for now or major purpose for controlling the Gyms except bragging rights (if you have nerdy friends who, they probably have already posted some memes about the teams).

Overall the game is pretty fun, it isn’t perfect, and the server issues and long load times can be really rough sometimes. Down the road other features could be added, says CEO John Hanke. It might be a while before new features come, but that’s reasonable because the game is less than a week old. If you want to casually run around and catch some Pokémon or become crazy with powerful Pokémon, this game will satisfy your needs while enjoying some fresh air and good exercise. But please, be aware of your surroundings, be safe and don’t get in trouble. Get ready to walk more than you ever have while awkwardly bumping into other people playing the game, download the app and GO. “Gotta catch em’ all,” right?

THANKS, LIKE A LOCAL
February 18, 2016 5:54 pm

You like to travel, sure, but you ain’t no tourist. You’re here to see the real city, not these smarmy tourist traps featured in your airport brochure. You’re not afraid of the road less traveled. Any city can be paradise if you know what you’re looking for. You do know what you’re looking for, don’t you?

If not, don’t worry, because Like A Local has you covered. The popular travel app has up-to-date recommendations from residents of cities around the globe. And when I say cities, I mean every single city you could possibly want to visit. From Amsterdam all the way down to Zagreb (which, it turns out, is the capital of Croatia), the list is truly staggering. Of course they know the skinny on Paris, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro–I mean who doesn’t, right? But what about Istanbul, Vancouver or Buenos Aires? Local recommendations out the wazoo. Boulder, CO; Phoenix, AZ; or Lafayette, LA? Make domestic travel your bitch. Even if you’re not actually traveling you can still find loads of activities in NYC, LA, DC, Chicago, and a handful of other North American cities. It’s all just a click away.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some examples.

By now you’ve probably heard that New York City has a lot to offer, but God forbid you actually live here to find out for yourself. What does Like A Local recommend? Given my location (off the L train) and time of day (afternoon), they recommend Roberta’s Pizza, The City Reliquary, and Beacon’s Closet (to name a few), three highly regarded Brooklyn establishments. So, pretty legit.

Did I hear somebody ask about Boston? No? Maybe it was just me. Anyways, Like A Local recommends the Arnold Arboretum, the Harpoon Brewery and the Coolidge Corner Theatre (to name a few). All of these places I have been to during my days as a local Bostonian, and all of them are awesome. Good work, Like A Local.

Okay let’s try international. I’ve always wanted to go to Vienna (mostly for the sausages) but I’m sure I wouldn’t know what to do once I got there. Well Like A Local has 130 recommendations grouped into categories like “Guide to Imperial Vienna,” “Most Popular Green Areas” and “Best Nightlife Spots.” Couldn’t be easier! Kind of makes me want to hop a flight there right now…

I won’t, but it’s nice to know that, if I did, I’d have cool things to do once I got there. Thanks, Like A Local (and also the hundreds of helpful foreigners providing insight into their respective cities), for optimizing my next vacation. Looking forward to it!