Year 6, Day 38: The Godfathers of Punk Rock and Blitzkrieg Bop

Year 6, Day 38: Ramones – Ramones

Track Listing

  1. Blitzkrieg Bop
  2. Beat on the Brat
  3. Judy is a Punk
  4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
  5. Chain Saw
  6. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
  7. I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement
  8. Loudmouth
  9. Havana Affair
  10. Listen to My Heart
  11. 53rd & 3rd
  12. Let’s Dance
  13. I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You
  14. Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World

About the Album

Ramones is the self-titled debut album from American punk band, Ramones. The album was released on April 23rd 1976 through Sire Records. The album peaked at number 111 on the Billboard 200. The album has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Thoughts on the Album

One of my first forays into the punk genre was through the Ramones‘ Blitzkrieg Bop. It’s fast paced and punchy riffs mesmerized me. I was instantly hooked. Now then, the Ramones are the forefathers or godfathers of New York punk, and probably the genre as a whole. The ay this album was produced is pretty unique and that’s what makes it interesting. It’s the way that the music comes from the left and right channels that makes it unique, interesting, and enjoyable. Here’s the thing, the songwriting and song structure is simplistic at best and does get repetitive after awhile, but there is absolute magic in this album.

The album opens with the three chord assault of the lead single and most recognizable Ramones‘ song, Blitzkrieg Bop. Even after Blitzkrieg Bop, the three chord assault and the rapid speed and tempo doesn’t let up until the final track hits 0:00 remaining. The guitars roar with overbearing power and at the same time crafting infectious and easy to play chord progressions that any idiot (or novice guitar player) could play. The drums fiercely fight to keep pace. Joey Ramone croons in an almost British accent. Anyway, I would make the argument that Blitzkrieg Bop was the first true punk sound ever recorded. It’s simple and fast I-IV-V chord progression begins the aural assault with the rest of the band roaring in and then it happens. Suddenly, everyone but the drums drops out and soon you hear the four most recognizable words in punk rock, shouted by Joey…

Hey, ho! Let’s Go!

What the Ramones were all about were speed, hooks, stupidity, and simplicity. An example of the stupidity is found on Beat on the Brat. the line…

Beat on the Brat, Beat on the Brat, Beat on the Brat with a Baseball Bat!

Never fails to make me laugh, despite it being a song about teenage violence. Blunt humor. Judy is a Punk follows in a similar vein albeit showing off some surf rock roots. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend is an excellent punk rock love song featuring some arpeggiated chords; Listen to My Heart is a similar, yet weaker song. What stands out with Listen to My Heart is the excellent bridge/chorus. On the flip side, I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You might be the best anti-love song.

Conclusion

Sometimes an album doesn’t have to be commercially successful for it to have a lasting impact. That’s what the Ramones self-titled album is. It was a commercial failure, and yet it’s one of the seminal albums of punk rock and rock music in general. You would think with 14 songs, the album would be well over an hour long. Nope. With most songs clocking in at 2:30 (on average), it’s barely 45 minutes long. What made this album one of the quintessential albums in rock history is it’s ability to blend together fast paced punk with surf rock, girl group pop, and early rock and roll. The Ramones boiled it down to the essentials… and in the end, that’s all you need.

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Year 6, Day 37: Bayside Thought They Looked Like Strong Hands

Year 6, Day 37: Bayside – Bayside

Track Listing

  1. Hello Shitty
  2. Devotion and Desire
  3. Tortures of the Damned
  4. They Looked Like Strong Hands
  5. Montauk
  6. Blame It on Bad Luck
  7. We’ll Be OK
  8. Existing in a Crisis (Evelyn)
  9. Don’t Call Me Peanut
  10. Half a Life
  11. Dear Tragedy

About the Album

Bayside is the self-titled second studio album from New York based pop punk band, Bayside. The album was released on August 23rd 2005 through Victory Records.

Thoughts on the Album

Down to the final few albums left for this year. I remember hearing Bayside‘s Devotion and Desire  on the EA Sports game MVP 06: NCAA BaseballEA Sports went with the Victory Records label to reflect the change from professional to collegiate baseball, thanks to a their loss of the third party publishing rights to Major League Baseball video games. Anyway, Devotion and Desire was one of my favorite songs off that soundtrack. One of the things about New York, where Bayside is from, is that it is an incredibly fertile ground for musical talent. Bayside sounds like they were assembled in either a secret government lab or factory somewhere with parts from other bands like Brand NewAlkaline Trio, and Taking Back Sunday.

The album opens with the short and quick, Hello Shitty. As the shortest song on the album, there is no need for more. It’s sharp, punchy, and to the point. This pace leads right into the lead single and the aforementioned, Devotion and DesireDevotion and Desire is the strongest track on the album, highlighted by excellent musicianship and instrumental work. Both the guitar and drum work on this song and throughout the album are excellent. The track, Tortures of the Damned features some of frontman Anthony Raneri‘s best and most eloquent lyricism.

If only I had an axe, I’d sever the ties I’ve made with this world

The track Don’t Call Me Peanut, is one of the band’s finest acoustic ballads. And while it’s more the band’s trademarked brand of fast-paced, in-your-face, riff-induced pop punk that skyrocketed them into the spotlight, it doesn’t take a whole lotta heart to appreciate the emotion found on Don’t Call Me Peanut. On the other side, Montauk wins the “best riffage” award, plus it features some of the best use of vocal distortion. Then there’s They Looked Like Strong Hands, a song that slows down the tempo and momentum a bit. It’s slower, less aggressive, but still brings the heat. It’s soaring 6/8 time chorus is where it succeeds. Blame It on Bad Luck starts off in a similar fashion, though with a marching snare drum beat. The slow beat gives way a bluesy verse and chorus that is rather upbeat.

Conclusion

Like most pop punk albums, there is a dip mid album and the first half is way stronger than the second. But Bayside‘s self-titled opus is an incredibly strong one. It’s also a rather refreshing take on the emo-punk/emo-pop genre where there’s no screaming just for the sake of screaming. Bayside, lyrically, is incredibly strong. It’s an album that shines like a diamond amidst a sea of landmines.

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Year 6, Day 34: Taking a Victory Lap with Propagandhi

Year 6, Day 34: Propagandhi – Victory Lap

Track Listing

  1. Victory Lap
  2. Comply/Resist
  3. Cop Just Out of Frame
  4. When All Your Fears Collide
  5. Letters to a Young Anus
  6. Lower Order (A Good Laugh)
  7. Failed Imagineer
  8. Call Before You Dig
  9. Nigredo
  10. In Flagrante Delicito
  11. Tartuffle
  12. Adventures in Zoochosis

About the Album

Victory Lap is the seventh studio album from Canadian punk band, Propagandhi. The album was released on September 29th 2017 through Epitaph Records.

Thoughts on the Album

I am pretty sure that with today’s album, we have reached peak Canadian for the duration of the project. Three (I think) Canadian bands in one calendar week. Propagandhi is today’s featured artist with their seventh studio effort, Victory Lap, which is their first album released in five years. Leave it to a bunch of Canadians to write and produce a set of incredibly socially and politically conscious songs. Here’s the thing with Victory Lap… it takes the melodic hardcore punk that Propagandhi is known for and somehow turns it into metal. Not sure what kind of sorcery they used to make it work, but it’s incredibly good. Punk at it’s most base and primal form is raw, powerful, and rebellious. With the addition of the metal elements (found with guitars, not on the periodic table), Victory Lap breathes life into a genre that’s been kicking around for the last four-plus decades or so.

Propagandhi has always been a cut above the rest in the genre. Maybe it’s because they’re Canadian… I don’t know. Propagandhi is band that when they release an album, they have something to say. It’s giving a savage message that is delivered with such raging energy that this genre is sorely missing at the moment… especially given the global climate. Victory Lap comes at you with both intelligence and honesty. It’s thirty six and a half minutes of guitar riffs that thrash about like sea waves in a typhoon. While there really isn’t any diversion from what’s already been done and the differences here are minute, where it lacks in innovation, it makes up in incredible songwriting. It’s the blistering guitar riffs and breakneck speed of Comply/Resist and the melancholic breather of Nigredo.

What Victory Lap does best and strongest is that it has excellent and incredible control over a wide range of moods and emotions that the album an exceedingly engaging one from start to finish. The musicianship is amazing and dynamic ranging from the grooving gymnastics of the bass to the powerful and earthquaking drums to the blistering guitar riffs and fantastic solos. The instrumentals on this album offer up countless stellar and powerful moments that showcases the band at their peak, even after 31 years in the game. What this album does is offer up Propagandhi at their purest form, albeit with some tapping into some past elements. Comply/Resist is a sharp-edged, propulsive, and explosive tune that’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention. The same goes for When Your Fears Collide. Tracks like Letters to a Young Anus and Failed Imagineer offer up more hardcore punk rager moments and shows off just versatile and well-schooled this band is.

Conclusion

While Victory Lap is a slightly weighty album that leans on the bands more playful side which occasionally detracts from the lyrics. That’s really my only gripe about this album. It’s the best punk album from 2017, hands down. The vocals are delivered with a sense of unyielding conviction that are still hungry for more. An unyielding conviction that is set on melting your face. The music backing the vocals is damn near flawless and delivered with almost the same conviction and incredibly high standard. Half-Metallica, half-Black Flag (or Dead Kennedys, if you prefer), Propagandhi‘s Victory Lap is punk at it’s best and highest standards. And while Propagandhi might not be able to save the world by their lonesome selves, Victory Lap serves as their call to arm to join the fray and fight back. And yeah sure, it’s alright if you take some breaks to slam dance.

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Year 6, Day 31: Going Heavy on the Killer, Light on the Filler with Sum 41

Year 6, Day 31: Sum 41 – All Killer No Filler

Track Listing

  1. Introduction to Destruction
  2. Nothing on My Back
  3. Never Wake Up
  4. Fat Lip
  5. Rhythms
  6. Motivation
  7. In Too Deep
  8. Summer
  9. Handle This
  10. Crazy Amanda Bunkface
  11. All She’s Got
  12. Heart Attack
  13. Pain for Pleasure

About the Album

All Killer No Filler is the debut studio album from Canadian pop punk band, Sum 41. The album was recorded from September 2000 through March 2001 and released on May 8th 2001 through Island Records. The album peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard 200 and lead single Fat Lip peaked at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart as well as number sixty six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Single In Too Deep peaked at number ten on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart as well. The album is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Thoughts on the Album

Pop punk is one of the few genres were it’s okay to not be revolutionary or progressive, which I can safely say that Sum 41 is not. Pop punk is genre where playing it safe works about 96.3% of the time. So what makes today’s album from Sum 41, All Killer No Filler so special? Outside of being uniquely Canadian, it’s another pop punk album that defined genre, band, and year. What makes All Killer No Filler special and a cut about the rest, is that Sum 41 created an album that has sound and competent songwriting and instrumental talent. That’s where it separates itself from the rest of the genre. This album represents a maturing band, albeit musically. There’s nothing wrong with playful or sophomoric humor in your songs.

The strong point of this album is that it is incredibly fun to listen to… and when combined with the instrumental performance on the album, makes it even stronger. Right off the bat, the guitar work is phenomenal. You can hear the influence that heavy metal had on this band, but it’s just strong enough to not over power their core style. However, Pain for Pleasure eschews this as an ode to glam metal. A welcome addition for those who might have been getting weary of their previous work.

All Killer No Filler does have things that are rather atypical for a pop punk album… mainly guitar solos and certain riffs. Most guitar solos are uncommon for pop punk and are not standard, factory-issued. In Too Deep has an excellent tapping solo. The solo and the opening riff of In Too Deep are unforgettable and instantly recognizable. This song is the cream of the crop when it comes to the guitar work on the album. What the album also does best if counteracting the weaker tracks with what are now considered to be pop punk classics (Fat LipIn Too Deep). Fat Lip, the lead single, was a massive hit that brought the band into the spotlight. A catchy introduction combined with pseudo-rapping verses that have unforgettable lyrics and an anthemic chorus, you have a classic seemingly genre defining song. This is the song that comes to mind when you think of pop punk.

Conclusion

All Killer No Filler is what comes to mind when you think of pop punk. With it’s atypical and nonstandard guitar riffs and solo, this album was one of the best of 2001. Fat Lip and In Too Deep both received massive airplay on the radio. Backed by infectious hooks and catchy melodic riffs, Sum 41 goes heavy on the killer and light on filler with All Killer No FillerIt’s an album that any casual fan of the pop punk genre can get into.

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Year 6, Day 29: Because the Night and the Godmother of NYC Punk

Year 6, Day 29: Patti Smith Group – Easter

Track List

  1. Till Victory
  2. Space Monkey
  3. Because the Night
  4. Ghost Dance
  5. Babelogue
  6. Rock and Roll ******
  7. Privilege (Set Me Free)
  8. We Three
  9. 25th Floor
  10. High on Rebellion
  11. Easter

About the Album

Easter is the third studio album from the Patti Smith Group/Patti Smith. The album was recorded in 1977 and released on March 3rd 1978 through Arista Records. The album peaked at number twenty on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and lead single Because the Night peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100.

Thoughts on the Album

After today, we are down to our last ten albums of the project, so let’s jump right into it. The New York punk scene was centered inside CBGB, a now famed and defunct rock venue in The Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan. Inside the rock venue gave birth to many an aspiring punk rocker, one of which was Patti SmithPatti Smith is, like Deborah Harry (Debbie Harry), one of the godmothers of punk rock. But not just any punk rock, but the New York City scene. It took me a looooong time to get on board with Smith. When I first listened to her 1978 album Easter, it wasn’t what I was expecting for punk. I was expecting loud, raw, and a fast attack with no heed to instrumentation or orchestration. However she is just as an important figure in punk as say The Stooges or MC5. And while punk rockers like Iggy Pop of The Stooges wanted to tear down the rock and roll establishment, Patti Smith is an artist, whose tunes draw such visceral and vivid imagery that puts her in the same league as Jim Morrison of The Doors.

I’m going to frank with you, her tunes on Easter, while primal and raw, are not easy rockers. Easter is somehow both an album that was commercially successful, more pop-radio friendly, and yet more divisive and derisive… all at once. The album opener, Till Victory, is a fantastically solid rocker. Babelogue highlights the streaming volatile poetry of Smith. The closer, Easter, is a tender and otherworldly tune that sends the listener home on a more somber note. However, it is because of two songs that define this album: Because the Night and Rock and Roll Nigger.

Because the Night is an amazingly excellent track that was written partly by the one and only Bruce Springsteen. Yes, you read that right, The Boss. It is Springsteen’s lyrical template, but Smith gave this song both it’s form and feeling. Completing the lyrics and making it her own, many recognize it as a hit from Smith, even if they don’t recognize her name right away, Because the Night is an epic and emotion journey that gave her a commercial hit without the sacrifice of artistic integrity. Which it’s next to impossible to do that nowadays.

Now to juxtapose the infectious Because the Night with Rock and Roll Nigger. Yeah that very same “n word”; for which it’ll called Rock and Roll ****** from henceforth. It’s obviously a track that is not radio friendly and never be. The track was Smith’s attempt to redefine language, which for me, is pretty shocking. It’s extremely dangerous to play with such a loaded term, despite the fact Smith explains her reasoning within the song. Still, despite different genres of music’s attempts to “reclaim the term”, the song still carries around a lot of shock to it.

Conclusion

Easter is an album that is… “more communicative” rather than accessible or commercial. While Patti Smith didn’t exactly get rock and roll to steer away from it’s self-indulgent lifestyle, she did manager to inspire generation of would be punks to create their version of rock and their version of artistry. It is because of Because the Night, the unwanted (and unfinished) Bruce Springsteen demo that was just gathering dust in his archive, that launched Patti Smith into the stratosphere.  And maybe that is a testimony to her mastery of both art and music.

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Year 6, Day 28: It was The Meanest of Times

Year 6, Day 28: Dropkick Murphys – The Meanest of Times

Track List

  1. Famous for Nothing
  2. God Willing
  3. The State of Massachusetts
  4. Tomorrow’s Industry
  5. Echoes On “A.” Street
  6. Vices and Virtues
  7. Surrender
  8. (F)lannigan’s Ball
  9. I’ll Begin Again
  10. Fairmount Hill
  11. Loyal to No One
  12. Shattered
  13. Rude Awakenings
  14. Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
  15. Never Forget

About the Album

The Meanest of Times is the sixth studio album from Boston punk rockers, the Dropkick Murphys. The album was recorded from April through July 2007 and released on September 18th, 2007 through Born & Bred Records. The album is the last to feature guitarist Marc Orrell who left the band following the tour in the support of the album. The album peaked at number 20 on the Billboard 200.

Thoughts on the Album

Top o’ thee morn, afternoon, or even’in lads and lassies! It’s Saint Patrick’s Day here in the United States of America and what better than to share some Irish American Celtic punk rock. I mean playing some Dropkick Murphys on St. Patrick’s Day in America is about as Irish and American as drinking yourself into oblivion as most people get. There’s the thing, The Meanest of Times isn’t even my favorite Dropkick Murphys album, that would be The Warriors Code. But hey, it’s whatever; The Meanest of Times is still a damn fine album if not a wee bit bulky. In an airing of my grievances, The Meanest of Times is basically The Warriors Code or Blackout part deux. But let’s be honest is too much of the same thing from the Dropkick Murphys a bad thing? Nope.

The Meanest of Times is however, the band’s most catchiest and upbeat record in their arsenal. This is because of their use of accelerated paces and uplifting vocals. In traditional DKM fashion, they waste zero time getting the motor running with album opener, Famous for Nothing. A track that slaps you in the face, pulls you in for big kiss, and keeps you wanting more. God Willing continues on this theme, with soaring melodies and an atmosphere of a drunken bar fight on St. Patrick’s Day. There are tracks like these found all over The Meanest of Times with Vices and Virtues being a prime example. It’s line of…

Whiskey, war, suicide, and guns

Is incredibly hard to let go off. These songs stick in your head, like a traditional Irish tune blasting at the pub on March 17th. However it wouldn’t be DKM without throwing some curveballs and boy do they not disappoint. The State of Massachusetts comes fully equipped with a mandolin riff and Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya is a fantastic cover of an old traditional Irish tune, Johnny Comes Marching Home.

What The Meanest of Times does best is , expand on the storytelling. Tracks like (F)lanigan’s Ball and Fairmount Hill are more prime examples of the growth of DKM‘s storytelling abilities. (F)lanigan’s Ball, another traditional Irish song, features guest vocals from Spider Stacy of The Pogues and Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners. Combined with Al Barr and Ken Casey the four vocalists all trade off on sections and parts, retelling the story of a drunken ball. The mandolin makes its return on Fairmount Hill, which is the closest thing to a ballad on this album. The follow up track might just be the band’s best and most innovative song… it’s Loyal to No One. The bagpipes and accordion have some of the best instrumental work to date. You know, just thinking about Loyal to No One on, lets say The Warriors Code, could have elevated that album to classic or legendary level.

Conclusion

No other band brings the passion and emotion of an entire city into their music, quite like the Dropkick Murphys can do. With tracks like Famous for Nothing and God Willing, I can feel raw emotion and passion that Boston has. Tracks like (F)lanigan’s Ball and Fairmount Hill, are takes on old traditional Irish folk tunes, and send reminders of the band’s, the city’s, and many listeners’ heritage as well. While the Celtic and Irish flavor is slightly less pronounced than on other DKM releases, that nevertheless doesn’t take away from the storytelling. While there are heartfelt moments found throughout the album, you can rest assured knowing that this is the Dropkick Murphys we are talking about here. There is enough raw emotions packed into the 45+ minutes of beer-slinging, riotous Celtic punk rock glory. The Meanest of Times is rousing album filled with tracks that’ll fit in nicely with the DKM arsenal of blue collar, gritty, beer soaked, (Celtic) punk rock anthems.

(Side note: (F)lanigan’s Ball is the DKM cover/version of Lanigan’s Ball; while Fairmount Hill is the Boston influenced version of Spancil Hill; Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya is the cover of Johnny Comes Marching Home)

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Year 6, Day 26: What Separates Me From You

Year 6, Day 26: A Day To Remember – What Separates Me From You

Track List

  1. Sticks & Bricks
  2. All I Want
  3. It’s Complicated
  4. This Is the House That Doubt Built
  5. 2nd Sucks
  6. Better Off This Way
  7. All Signs Point to Lauderdale
  8. You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic
  9. Out of Time
  10. If I Leave

About the Album

What Separates Me From You is the fourth studio album from American rock band, A Day To Remember. The album was recorded from May through July 2010 and released on November 16th 2010 through Victory Records. The album debuted at number eleven on the Billboard 200 and number one on the following charts: Billboard Top Alternative AlbumsBillboard Top Hard Rock Albums, and Billboard Top Independent Albums. The album is certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Thoughts on the Album

Breaking out the metalcore and pop punk for Day 26 of the Sounds of Broad Street, with A Day To Remember‘s What Separates Me From You. I gotta say this was my first album by ADTR that I ever listened to and it reminds me a lot of Chunk! No Captain Chunk! It’s a blend of melodic pop punk with that hardcore and gritty metalcore. Mixing crunchy guitars with screaming vocals. One of the strengths of this album is it’s length; it’s perfect. 10 songs, 33 minutes. The right amount of radio friendly and not so radio friendly pop punk. It also seems that ADTR found the right balance of just about everything with this album.

Tracks like It’s Complicated and Better Off This Way are bursting with the right amount of heart, emotion, grit, and melody. The passion and emotion that frontman Jeremy McKinnon delivers with the vocals is sharp and strong. Combining that with strong honesty of the lyrics with their infectious melodies makes this album built for replay after replay. “Replayability”, if you will. There is a right balance between both the clean and harsh lyrics. And the breakdowns, which are pretty minimal, are used when necessary, rather than used “just for the sake of it”. All I Want, is a track that is destined to be played in front of arenas, stadiums, and giant open air festivals. It’s an incredibly hard hitting pop punk track.

Tracks like Sticks & Bricks and You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic are what I would describe as “classic” ADTRboth strike the perfect balance between the metalcore elements (vocals) and pop punk elements (choruses). There is enough variety in the music to please and excite old fans while bringing in and keeping new listeners glued. As for the lyrics… no matter how convoluted, contrite, and cliched or whiny and petulant they may/may not be, they are incredibly heartfelt and honest. All Signs Point to Lauderdale brings the pop punk in full force, heavy on guitar and driving rhythm sections. It is an incredibly infectious track that’ll have you singing and nodding your head along to it. Tracks like Better Of This Way and Out of Time also have more of an edge that the standard, factory issued pop punk song. Both of these tracks mix in more rock stylized verses with pop-infused choruses that transition back and forth great.

Quick hits: All I Want is a killer track with less screaming and more meaningful lyrics. This just builds right into It’s Complicated, a ridiculously catchy song without any type of screaming. If I would use two songs to describe this album, it’s All Signs Point to Lauderdale and Better of This Way. Both bring max energy, but in a way that allows the listener to understand the message they are delivering.

Conclusion

The performances by A Day To Remember on What Separates Me From You is almost perfect. Sans 2nd Sucks, which is the weakest of the tracks on the album, the rest are great. No matter who petulant, whiny, immature one may find the tracks of What Separates Me From You, it is thoroughly addictive. That’s what pop punk elements in this album are doing, acting like nicotine to keep you coming back for more. The album blur a mythical line between the clean vocals of pop punk and emo punk and the hyper aggressive/extreme throat exploding vocals of metalcore. How to say it, everything about this album is so dialed in, it’s like my laptop’s track pad has a mind of its own, turning up the volume. And in the end, that’s how music should be.

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