Monthly Archives: November 2017

TVD Live Shots: St. Vincent at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, 11/21

Part of me wants to tell you everything about this show—the show that I arrived in Louisville a day early (for family Thanksgiving) to see. But a bigger part of me just implores you to go see her if you haven’t already. I mean, it’s St. Vincent. She is meant to be seen live. There is a reason I’d travel to other states to see her.

I will tell you a few things about the “Fear the Future” tour. In St. Vincent’s latest incarnation, she continues to explore and expand her roles—musician, actor, performance artist, director, designer, celebrity—and the relationships between them, through them. The evening begins with a viewing of her surreal short film The Birthday Party, followed by Part One, select cuts from her first four albums.

Part Two is her latest triumph, MASSEDUCTION, in full. (And can I say that it’s really cool to experience an album from start to finish, just as it’s meant to be heard.) The whole time it’s just St. Vincent on the stage—no band, though the music sounds live. Just her and her angular, petite, customized guitar that’s as thoughtfully designed as everything else in her world.

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TVD Giveaway: Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen
by Bill Bentley

It’s often been asked of us, for a vinyl-centric and certainly record store-centric website, what’s with all the live photography? Simply stated, it’s the beating heart of the artistry that puts those vinyl records in the record shops, and it’s also the live performance circuit where the artists are making the bulk of their bank these days. So, from such diverse points as San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, DC, and London among others, we’re there up front for the first three, then out.

To underscore the marriage between live performance and the photographers who capture each high jump, guitar thrust, and hip swivel comes Smithsonian Books’ Smithsonian Rock and Roll, a stunning and exquisitely designed coffee table-sized ode to the aforementioned artistry—whose timing is apt given that there are some who perhaps lose sight of the historic nature of the still image to document and amplify live performance.

We have a copy of Smithsonian Rock and Roll to give away to one of you, but first some official background on the dazzling decade by decade photographic overview that Smithsonian Books has assembled:

Prince at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina, Nov. 14, 1984. (John Rottet / Smithsonian Books)

Smithsonian Books has published Smithsonian Rock and Roll, a “gorgeous” (Parade) collection of mostly crowd-sourced rock and roll photography that features photos of some of rock’s most iconic artists—including Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, The Who, Rolling Stones, and Metallica—along with accompanying write-ups from music industry veteran Bill Bentley.

It has received praise from the Washington Post, Parade, AARP, Mashable, Dangerous Minds and more, with the LA Times calling it “gritty, raw and uncensored…a candid compendium of musical history marked by the trapped-in-time moments that moved a concert-goer to raise camera to eye, or cellphone to air.”

Joni Mitchell at Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, N.Y., Feb. 11, 1974. (Amy Jaffe / Smithsonian Books)

In December 2015, the Smithsonian called on rock and roll lovers around the world to collect photos and stories of their favorite moments in music. Fans dug through attics, basements, closets, shoeboxes, digital cameras, and photo albums to upload great rock shots to As a result, the book features 142 artists spanning more than six decades of music history that, presented together, create a kaleidoscopic history of the music, the concerts, and the fans.

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The Beaches,
The TVD First Date

“Much of what I’m about to admit, I probably shouldn’t. It’s pretty embarrassing that I, someone who has been a musician for almost twelve years, has never owned a record player or listened to records until early this year.”

“I always found the record player very intimidating, as if I wouldn’t know how to set it up or make the music it emitted sound right. I was also worried that if I got one, I wouldn’t know how to work the manual needle.

Strangely enough though, I’ve always collected records. Their covers always enchanted me. I would pick them up at garage sales or in the dollar rack at record stores. I would take them home and try to replicate David Bowie and Debbie Harry’s makeup and outfits, read all the names of the songs and so on—but I would never listen to them. I would just stare and wonder.

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Needle Drop: HAWK, “Below” b/w “Can’t Explain”

Fast becoming known for their beguiling, ethereal creations, Berlin-based HAWK follow the success of singles “Once Told,” “Take It Away,” “Mirror Maze,” and most recently “Sin,” with the release of a brand new AA side.

Steeped in the band’s trademark spellbinding grace, “Below” takes its inspiration from Irish history—the Catholic church and its mistreatment of women—a subject of which front-woman Julie Hawk feels passionately. Flowing with delicate, twinkling melodies and sweeping celestial vocals, gritty undertones start to surface as the track progresses, building to a sudden raging blast of fury. Of the track, Julie explains:

“… as an Irish woman, both looking back at how women were treated in the past and the desperate lack of progress today, I feel betrayed by my country. We’re still fighting for basic reproductive rights for women and seeing an embarrassing response from our government.”

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Graded on a Curve: Irreversible Entanglements, Irreversible Entanglements

Protest is assuredly in the air, but the most effective actions of resistance are marked by intensity of commitment that runs deeper than spur-of-the-moment railing against the despicable actions of our current POTUS. Such is the case with Irreversible Entanglements; self-described as a liberation-minded free jazz collective, they formed in early 2015 to play a Musicians Against Police Brutality event in NYC, beginning as a trio and expanding to a five-piece for recording at Brooklyn’s Seizure’s Palace in August of that year. The sounds and emotions they stirred up that day constitute their self-titled debut, which is out December 1 on LP and CD through the partnership of International Anthem and Don Giovanni.

Fire Music, the strain of avant-garde jazz that flourished in the ’60s and early ’70s, didn’t just acquire its name because it was, well, fiery. It was also an uprising of intense social commitment and occasionally, astutely severe protest. This combo is perhaps best embodied by the work of saxophonist Archie Shepp and the poetic contributions of Amiri Baraka (then known as LeRoi Jones) to both the New York Art Quartet’s self-titled ESP-Disk and drummer Sunny Murray’s underheard monster session Sonny’s Time Now.

Featuring the voice of Camae Ayewa, the alto sax of Keir Neuringer, the trumpet of Aquiles Navarro, the double bass of Luke Stewart, and the drums of Tcheser Holmes, Irreversible Entanglements clearly derives from the tradition of Fire Music, not as a calculated imitation of the sound of freedom past but as a contemporary extension.

Along with achieving an at-times bruising force, the instrumentalists sporadically employ extended techniques that weren’t a part of the ’60s avant-jazz palette. However, the most distinctive element in the equation is Ayewa, whose vocal delivery is thankfully 1,000 miles away from played-out territory of the poetry slam. Instead, she harkens back to and expands upon the more fertile ground of the Black Arts Movement, which only tightens ties to Baraka and more appropriately, to the work of Jayne Cortez.

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In rotation: 11/30/17

Ed Sheeran and Gallagher brothers lead vinyl revival at HMV, Demand soars across all genres, with Sheeran’s Divide on track to be retailer’s biggest selling vinyl record of the year: HMV is predicting its biggest year for vinyl music sales since the late 80s as records make a comeback on the UK’s Christmas wish lists. The music retailer said demand was soaring across all genres, with Ed Sheeran’s Divide on track to be its biggest selling vinyl record of the year, followed by the solo efforts of Liam and Noel Gallagher, formerly of Oasis, in second and third place. John Hirst, music manager at HMV, said: “A strong year for new releases from artists such as Ed Sheeran and Rag’n’Bone Man has been followed up with a really strong back end, with the Gallagher brothers driving the LP sales into the final quarter.”

Cafe Chat: Lyttelton Records brings new bar to Woolston: Coffee, doughnuts and vinyl records have been mashed together in a fresh hospitality creation by Lyttelton Records in Christchurch. The recording company has opened a live music venue that also acts as an espresso bar, craft beer bar and vinyl store. The espresso bar hybrid set up shop at 650 Ferry Rd, Woolston, previously home to Holy Smoke. Experienced hospitality duo Aaron and Donna Lee joined owner and record producer Ben Edwards and partner Saffron Gallagher in the business a year ago. “We wanted to give Lyttelton Records a physical home and to be more than just a label but a local hang out to see live shows,” Aaron says. It’s still early days for Lyttelton Records, but the plan is to host gigs on its purpose-built stage up to three nights a week.

Thousands of records reduced to £1 as Ashby vinyl store kicks off another celebration: Hundreds of music lovers lined the streets of Ashby again as a vinyl store prepared for its popular 1,000 records sale – at just £1 per disc. On Saturday, November 25, The Attic hosted the sale which saw full-priced records, with some thought to be worth as much as £80, reduced to just £1 for one day only. Some of the records from artists including Sam Smith and Noel Gallagher had only been released for a few days and were reduced to the nominal fee. Other “hot bargains” included LPs by Stranger Things, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and David Bowie. Along with the record sales the customers were also entered into a free prize draw for cinema tickets to see Star Wars.

Vinyl, streaming and CDs: Maybe it’s not just about the audio quality: It’s a debate that’s raged in music circles for decades — does vinyl or a CD provide the superior listening experience? And the advent of digital downloads and streaming services has done little to quell the contest. Vinyl listeners swear by the medium’s distinct, warm sound — and the enjoyment digging in the crates to collect LPs brings. Music giant Sony has announced it will re-enter vinyl record production to meet increasing demand, especially with young listeners. It seems the format many had written off as dead will be sticking around for a while. But is vinyl best if you’re trying to hear what your favourite band were playing when they laid down the track?

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TVD Live Shots: My Vitriol at KOKO, 11/19

Every time I hear the name My Vitriol, it brings me back to the golden days of SXSW, a time when a sense of anticipation superseded the current state of immediate gratification. A time when you would hear about a new band and get so excited to see them live that you’d drop everything you’re doing for the night to line up early to make sure you’d get in. Given overwhelming circumstances, sometimes you would, sometimes you wouldn’t, but you could never Facebook and Tweet your way beyond the mystique. It was real, it was authentic, it was magical… and sadly it’s not ever coming back again.

One of these moments was the debut of My Vitriol in 2001. The record was called Finelines. The buzz was through the fucking roof. The mystique was there and it was real. If you could get in to see one of the band’s performances, you were among the elite of the music business, along with a few hardcore fans. When they hit the stage, the sound was both glorious and surreal.

This is the same feeling I get living in London every time I hear that My Vitriol is playing a show in the UK. It brings me back to that moment when exclusivity mattered more than reach. When you discover a new band for the first time and can’t wait to share it with your friends even though they might not understand, which is even cooler because then you have them all to yourself. Not great for record sales—but that’s not the point.

My Vitriol is one of the few bands today who retain this mystique while staying connected to their fans. 2016 saw the release of the long-awaited, direct to fans, Pledge Music campaign for The Secret Sessions. Was it worth waiting 15 years? Absolutely. I wrote a review earlier this year after their brilliant show at Scala which dives deeper into the significance and evolution of the band via that release which you can read here.

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TVD Radar: Butthole Surfers’ “Locust Abortion Technician” 10″ remaster in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Cult-classic punk rock band, Butthole Surfers released a 10″ remastered vinyl of their fan-adored 1987 EP, “Locust Abortion Technician,” on Friday (11/24) via Five Music/RED MUSIC. This marks the band’s first release since 2007’s compilation Pioughd/Widowmaker, ahead of new music in 2018—the first in 15 years. The remastered 10″ vinyl is released in celebration of the band’s 30th anniversary, kicking off a series of remastered releases throughout the next year.

“Sometime in 1986, the band decided that we were tired of living on the road, that it was time to find a home. We were in San Francisco at the time, and chose our new home town by throwing a dart at a map,” says guitarist Paul Leary. “The dart landed on Athens, Georgia, so off to Georgia we went. We soon realized that we couldn’t actually afford to rent a house in Athens, but were able to find a 2-bedroom rental house in tiny nearby Winterville. We used our meager savings to purchase an old Ampex 8-track tape machine, two microphones, and recorded what would become our third full-length LP “Locust Abortion Technician.”

Upon release in 1987, “Locust Abortion Technician” reached number three on the UK Indie Chart and was considered by fans to be one of the band’s best albums. The album’s influence is widely cited to have birthed grunge music and considered one of the top 50 albums of all time by the late Kurt Cobain and featured in Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

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Peter More,
The TVD First Date

“I’ve always loved having a record collection around the house. I didn’t get into collecting records until I was in high school when my mom’s friend gave me her collection from the ’60s and ’70s. I remember my dad opening the box and pulling out these original copies of Electric Ladyland, Bringing It All Back Home, and Rubber Soul, and lamenting how his whole record collection was stolen after college.”

“Until that point I didn’t realize how different the experience of playing vinyl is to tracking through a CD or shuffling an mp3 player. I find it easier to seek out obscure tracks listening to vinyl because it’s more conducive to sitting with a full album and turning it over, which is how I feel music should be. I feel we live in a very immediate culture where everything is consumed rapidly and then onto the next.

With the modern shift toward streaming singles I think it’s even curtailed the art (and caliber) of recording great LPs as well. It’s cool to see a resurgence of artists pressing records again and a return to the old days of spinning vinyl at parties and gatherings. We definitely plan to press records for our album release in the new year.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Smiths,
The Queen Is Dead

I’m a Morrissey fan by temperament—of all the musicians who have ever lived, Manchester’s most famous miserabalist (he even beats Mark E. Smith!) comes closest to sharing my belief that hope is the lubricant that keeps the human meat grinder running—and because I consider him the funniest musician to ever kvetch into a microphone.

I can’t help but love a man who quipped, “What’s the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning? Wish I hadn’t.” And was quoted as saying, “I have found the best way to avoid ending your life as a bitter wreck is to start out as one.” The Mancunian misanthropist’s feckless take on life is utterly hilarious, and what I’ll never get over is there are people out there who don’t think he’s funny. No wonder Morrissey’s miserable; he’s a great comedian but nobody gets his jokes.

And the jokes just keep on coming on The Smiths’ third studio LP, 1986’s The Queen Is Dead. Morrissey possesses a savage wit; “Girlfriend in a Coma” is a black comedy for the ages. And on The Queen Is Dead Morrissey is in top form. He opens “Bigmouth Strikes Again” with the lines, “Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking/When I said I’d like to/Smash every tooth in your head/Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking/When I said by rights/You should be bludgeoned in your bed” and you can practically hear him cackling. And his take on dying a romantic death on “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” (“And if a double-decker bus/Crashes into us/To die by your side/Is such a heavenly way to die/And if a ten-ton truck/Kills the both of us/To die by your side/Well, the pleasure—the privilege is mine”) never fails to crack me up.

On other tracks his sense of humor veers wildly towards the absurd. He delights in the sight of a vicar in a tutu; he is astonished by the revelation that some girls are bigger than others, and some girls’ mothers are bigger than other girls’ mothers; he heads to the “cemetry” because it’s a “dreadful sunny day.” On the great title track Morrissey breaks into the royal palace with “a sponge and a rusty spanner” only to run into the Queen who says, “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing.” To which he replies, “That’s nothing—you should hear me play the piano.” On the impossibly bleak “Never Had No One Ever” he hilariously puts a time stamp on a really bad dream (i.e., “It lasted 20 years, 7 months, and 27 days”) because he wants us to know that really bad dream happens to be his life. The man is a crack-up even at his most miserable, which is of course always.

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Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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Graded on a Curve:
Hy Maya,
The Mysticism of Sound & Cosmic Language

It was once concisely stated that before Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys, there was Rocket from the Tombs. Cleveland’s underground genealogy has grown considerably more complex however, and Smog Veil’s Platters du Cuyahoga series, its second installment having just concluded with Hy Maya’s The Mysticism of Sound & Cosmic Language, only reinforces this circumstance. Connected to Ubu through Allen Ravenstine and Scott Krauss, Hy Maya’s uncovered recordings drive home Robert Bensick as the project-concept’s guiding light and illuminate with loving diligence another pocket of Ohio’s subterranean musical history. It’s out now on compact disc and double blue marbled vinyl with download.

Smog Veil has always been a regional label, and the output rounded up under the Platters du Cuyahoga banner considerably amplifies this fact. Now six releases deep in two volumes, at all kicked off with Albert Ayler’s Ghosts Live at the Yellow Ghetto by x_x. Featuring John Morton (formerly of Electric Eels) and Andrew Klimek, it documented a wild, concise, and recent (circa 2014-’15) plunge into punkish free rock from an underappreciated and vital Cleveland band.

Since then, Platters du Cuyahoga has reached much farther back and followed a couple of thematic threads, one being a spotlight thrown upon the region’s blues-rock activity through a pair of albums, Live at the Brick Cottage 1972-1973 by the Mr. Stress Blues Band and Sunday Morning Revival by The Schwartz-Fox Blues Crusade. The other releases unveil previously unheard Pere Ubu pre-history; they are The Robert Bensick Band’s French Pictures in London (with participants including Scott Kraus and Tom Herman), Allen Ravenstine + Albert Dennis’ Terminal Drive, and now Hy Maya.

Of the three, The Mysticism of Sound & Cosmic Language is the oldest, corralling a June ’72 performance at Bensick’s alma mater Cleveland State University, a subsequent show at Sandusky, OH’s The Cellar, a summertime rehearsal, a visit to Cleveland’s Motion Picture Sound Studios, a fall/ winter ’72 recording at Ravenstine’s house, and an early ’73 demo.

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In rotation: 11/29/17

Digs at Bigs: It’s all about the vinyl: Adelaide vinyl collectors and DJs will be selling records spanning funk, soul, disco, boogie and hip-hip at a boutique record fair and music event on Saturday that will spin off into a night-time disco street party. Nick Dawson, of Funk Bros DJs, describes Digs at Bigs Vol. 2 as a curated record fair that emphasises quality over quantity. Taking place from 1pm to 4pm this Saturday in the basement and laneway at Biggies at Bertram, Grenfell Street, it will see around 10 sellers each offering up to three crates of records from their own personal collections. Unlike larger record fairs, where you might expect tables piled with classic rock, pop and folk, plus a liberal spread of Kamahl, the focus of Digs at Bigs is more specific – predominantly soul, disco, funk and hip-hop.

Vinyl record store pulled back from closure: Lucky Seven, a shop that has been operating on Stoke Newington Church Street for eight years, will stay open until at least January 2018 after financial support from owner Jason Gore’s family and friends poured in to help make payments for rent and business rates. Gore received a bailiff’s letter last week, demanding rent payment of £6000 for the September to December period, a 60% rent increase from the £3750 he used to pay per quarter five years ago. Gore has struggled to make rent ever since and had to borrow money every month. Since the business rate revaluation was introduced on 1 April 2017, Gore now pays £200 a month for business rates, a 35% increase from a monthly bill of £148. These increased running costs have made operation difficult to sustain for small businesses like Lucky Seven in Stoke Newington.

Fueling a vinyl resurgence, Redwood City’s The Record Man store stands the test of time: Though the thousands of records that fill the small rooms and winding hallways at The Record Man store in Redwood City are enough to make anyone’s head spin, for store owner Gary Saxon, it all makes sense. Having spent the last 30 years organizing the records lining the walls of his store at 1322 El Camino Real, it wouldn’t take Saxon more than a few minutes to find a customer’s request among the sections he’s dedicated to musical genres including soul, rhythm and blues, big band and rock, among many others. And that’s all before he’ll dive into the room that holds his jazz records.

America’s New Vinyl Bars, Drawing on the Japanese record bar tradition, American bars are swapping streaming playlists for vinyl and turntables. Even in the age of streaming music services that constitute the majority of public soundtracks, a growing number bars are incorporating vinyl—not just for their playlists, but as central to their ethos. Tokyo Record Bar pays homage to the intimate jazz cafés and vinyl bars discoverable around Tokyo since the 1950s. The postwar popularity of jazz in Japan’s capital led to a proliferation of venues that were dedicated to group-listening to records. These refuges for audiophiles have evolved over the years, but there are still a good number that continue to place music at the forefront of the experience, boasting album collections in the thousands.

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TVD Live Shots: Airbourne at the Roundhouse, 11/15

I’ve seen some crazy rock ‘n’ roll shows in my life, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for what I witnessed recently in London. Hailing from Warrnambool, Austrailia, Airbourne are AC/DC on steroids. It’s what Danko Jones was trying to do but on another level. This is one of those bands that have flown under the radar for me for some time now, but after seeing a photo or two from the beer can spraying bastard son of Lemmy, Joel O’Keeffe, it was finally time for me to see this for myself.

The Roundhouse is a unique venue in London. It’s hailed as one of the best venues in the world. It’a built inside the skeleton of a former railway engineer shed in North London, and it’s not the place I expected to see some balls to the wall, rip your head off style of high energy rock ‘n’ roll, but it worked beautifully. Airbourne have of course had their fair share of success and continue to do so, but they find themselves between venue sizes in London. Too big for the Electric Ballroom and just shy of a sell out at the Roundhouse.

While the band has done OK with record sales, the live show is really what carries these guys. The fact that they are one of the few bands who can capture the energy from the live performance onto a record doesn’t hurt, but either way, it’s incredible to me to see the size of the fanbase these guys have. Not to mention that every single person in this venue was losing their mind and going bananas during their set. No time for a ballads with these guys, it’s just a high potency mix of piss and vinegar from start to finish.

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TVD Radar: Rockie Charles’ debut Born For You on vinyl for the first time, in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Orleans Records is proud to announce the first release on 12″ vinyl of New Orleans’ “President Of Soul,” Rockie Charles’, Born For You. Originally recorded at Bonvillians Music, Hart Sound, and The Garage studios outside of New Orleans proper with Orleans Records’ founder Carlo Ditta producing, the album was first issued in 1996 to critical acclaim from aficionados of Blues and Southern Soul the world over. Born For You is being issued on vinyl, CD, and digital download November 24 by Orleans, distributed by Select-O-Hits.

Having abandoned music for decades while working as a tugboat captain on the Mississippi, Charles advertised his services as a musician in a local paper and came to the notice of Ditta who assembled a crack team of local players to bring Rockie’s masterful, deeply soulful compositions to life. Recalling the silky, smoked tones of icons like Al Green and O.V. Wright, Charles vocals are framed here by earthy but supple grooves that could have come straight out of Hi Studios in its heyday.

Born in Boothville, LA, Charles first picked up the guitar inspired by his father, Earlington, a bluesman who’d played rural juke joints. As he turned 13, Rockie’s family moved to the 9th Ward in New Orleans where he studied music Houston’s School of Music. Charles began appearing at talent contests at an African-American amusement park on Lake Ponchartrain competing with other aspiring talents like Ernie K-Doe and Aaron Neville.

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