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On the Record: Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, SOHN, Woods, Ingrid Michaelson, The Afghan Whigs, and Jessica Lea Mayfield

avey-tare-slasher-flicks-albumAvey Tare’s Slasher Flicks
Enter The Slasher House
Sounds Like:
Pretty much what you’d expect from the Animal Collective alum (maybe a little less pretentious); yes, there’s ominous darkness but the pretty pop synths and beats keep it cute.
Free Association: For the Williamsburg Halloween party that isn’t really about Halloween.
For Fans Of: Panda Bear/Stereolab + Ariel Pink, David Lynch x Mogwai, Sigur Ros, Blair Witch.

Sounds Like:
The debut of Vienna-raised Christopher Taylor is right on trend – capturing the UK soul of James Blake; the sensual R&B softness of Rhye; and the androgyny of Autre ne Veut.
Free Association: Feeding fuel to the fire: must go to London and find where these guys spin.
For Fans Of: Jamie Woon + Burial x Lana Del Rey, M83 x James Vincent McMorrow, sweet Euroscruff.

With Light and with Love
Sounds Like:
Brooklyn’s best freak folk and neo-psychedelic quartet put down the pipe to churn out their seventh stoner rock LP that draws heavily on classic rock touches like Crazy Horse.
Free Association: It’s pretty annoying when bands directly reference the Beatles – not here.
For Fans Of: Devendra Banhart x Mountain Goats + Cate Le Bon and the Dodos, couches in coach vans.

Ingrid-Michaelson-Lights-Out-2014-1200x1200Ingrid Michaelson
Lights Out
(Cabin 24/Mom + Pop)
Sounds Like:
Aww! The 34-year-old who’s been destroying the TV series soundtrack game for about ten years gives us her sixth and it’s as light and lovely and inoffensive as you’d imagine.
Free Association: Sara Bareilles’ toughest opponent for Cute Cotton Commercial Jingle supremacy.
For Fans Of: A Fine Frenzy/Feist/Carole King/Michelle Branch, beige, eggshell, taupe, big sun hats.

Whigs_cover_nobandThe Afghan Whigs
Do to the Beast
(Sub Pop)
Sounds Like:
They return after 16 years of silence with a great effort – a fantastically nasty mix of soul, grit, edge and heart; expertly-made hard rock that’s tempered by age but spiked with screams.
Free Association: Cincinnati is proud today! Legends of ‘90s Grunge mature with artistic grace.
For Fans Of: Morphine x Nirvana + Dinosaur Jr., Screaming Trees + Bob Mould, Soul Asylum.

JessLeaMayJessica Lea Mayfield
Make My Head Sing…
(ATO Records)
Sounds Like:
The young songwriter/shredder ditches Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) to work with her bassist husband for a wonderfully complex and rewarding LP drenched in country-fried feedback.
Free Association: The young pseudo-country lady rockers brigade just keeps growing in 2014.
For Fans Of: Laura Marling/Lisse x Lydia Loveless/Angel Olsen, languid and drowsy Marnie Stern.

Diva Death Match: Miley vs. Cher

It’s Hannah Montana against the “Half-Breed” goddess. Have a nice, clean fight, ladies:

It’s been a solid five months since PW last pitted some divas at each other’s throats. It doesn’t take much: dropping a record or sharing separate city stages on the same night or in the same week, maybe dropping a single that jockeys for another pop master’s top chart position. This week, Miley Cyrus and the incomparable Cher visit the Wells Fargo Center seven days apart. Typically, in the Diva Death Match world, I’ll take that as a white glove to the face—a frigid and intimidating stare. En garde!

We’ve applied the same five point-earning categories in every installment of this diva-celebrating contest, and Cyrus and Cher are no exception. They’re suited up—Cher in a Bob Mackie robe and Miley in plastic-wrap coochie cutters—and they look ready to do battle. Let’s see what happens!

Neither of these gals have a shred of real-deal street cred. But Cyrus tries (way too hard) to claim urban “realness” and—in grand fashion, thanks to “We Can’t Stop”—fails pretty miserably. Her large women-of-color props are red flags. You ain’t ‘hood, girl: You can throw on a grill and light up a blunt, but we all know you’re Billy Ray’s former-child-star daughter from Richkidville, Tennessee. Cher, on the other hand, has been around so long and done so many legit collaborations with artists who have genuine “urban radio” appeal, she’s like the O.G. of divas. You do not fuck with her.

Cyrus: 1, Cher: 3

Clearly, if we were looking at sheer numbers, Cher has a whopping 25 albums to her name, including ‘98’s wildly successful Believe. But Cyrus’ Bangerz is less than a year old, and it’s platinum. Her singles have moved many units, and she shows no sign of slowing down. At this point, she’s poised to keep selling millions of records by shitting on the mic in the studio and having Nelly rap a verse while Mike WiLL Made It cleans it up. The children will cough it up on iTunes. That doesn’t stop Cher superfans from going out and buying every new record she puts out on vinyl, disc, tape and any other hard-copy format you can find.

Cyrus: 5, Cher: 4

The all-encompassing X-factor can really give a gal the edge. And fierceness can register on the radars of style, grace, dance abilities, showmanship, star power or simply glamour. There are certainly droves of queer people and folks born before 1970 who will swear that Cher is the epitome of a fierce diva. She has that regal, self-aware, surreal superstar status but doesn’t even seem to try—she’s like the Queen of Barely Moving. And while I’ve applauded Cyrus’ go-fuck-yourself attitude and blatant pot-smoking badassery, she ain’t that fierce. Who will ever forget her gross MTV Video Music Awards performance, backing up that flat azz onto Robin Thicke’s prison-striped crotch? S’gonna be tough to live that lowpoint down.

Cyrus: 2, Cher: 4

Strangely, this is a pretty weird category for these two. Do you love Cher because she can wail like a goat with elegance? Do Cyrus superfans not love her lawnmower hum? In the last half of her career, Cher’s taken to over-the-top ridiculous and super-produced dancefloor anthems that seem like pretty trite gay fodder. (Have you given 2013’s Closer to the Truth a spin? Listen to “Take It Like A Man,” and try not to smirk and raise eyebrows.) But it’s still great. And even though Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” doesn’t have much room for vocal performance, “Wrecking Ball” and “Adore You” do. Cher’s looking strong, but Cyrus turned up the heat in this round.

Cyrus: 3, Cher: 3

Cher was in “Moonstruck,” and her video for “If I Could Turn Back Time” in ‘89—Miley wasn’t born yet—was banned by MTV for her risque clothing. She’s got an Oscar, a Grammy, an Emmy, Golden Globes and a Cannes award. And though Cyrus has probably got some Kid’s Choice Awards on a mantle somewhere and will pick up a few boring Billboard Music Awards, she ain’t got shit on Cher. The ref—oh, look, it’s Cyndi Lauper!—raises Cher’s bejeweled arm. Maybe next time, youngster.

Cyrus: 4, Cher: 5

TOTALS: Cher: 19, Cyrus: 15.

Miley Cyrus: Mon., April 21, 7pm. $49.50-$89.50. Cher: Mon., April 28, 7:30pm. $25-$156. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St.

Why are Budweiser and Made In America being so weird about tickets?

It was a solid two or three months ago when an “Event invitation” to a seemingly-legit Budweiser Made in America weekend arrived on folks’ Faceplaces. Two events: one for each day, just like last year.

It seemed like spam — no details of bands, no announcements had been made, etc. Then, recently reported that the 3rd “Annual” MIA, slated to go down on Memorial Day weekend again (August 30 and 31), has presale tickets available. Two days later and there are 15 comments (My favorite, by AreaMan: “I actually went to Made In America last year. I stood outside for free and watched Queens of the Stone Age, Calvin Harris and Nine Inch Nails while I drank a 6 pack. It was fantastic.”) and you can see in the comment strain that the ticket link (THIS ONE) wasn’t working for a minute. But it looks like everything’s functioning fine now and the price is really not bad: $99.50 for both days, which is really $117 total.

But there’s no lineup. There’s no announcement of any kind regarding who’s booked. You just have to trust, that at a mere starting point of $60 a day, you’ll love at least a few of the bands they’ll book, eventually.

Which probably isn’t a stretch. But we’ve only seen two of the local festivals booked, so far. As you may know, the ticket price range reached its highest height of $500 last summer and the LA version, happening the same weekend, starts at $125. So a flat $100 might be totally worth the gamble on the talent.

Adding a little extra mystery to the equation are the rumblings of a combo Bey-and-Jay tour that’ll kick off in late June and be a “20-stadium” run. The rumors started with an “exclusive” from Page Six — Jay Z and Beyonce will tour TOGETHER, pretty much right after they just wrapped their own individual MASSIVE tours. Will they stop at nothing? These three tours are single-handedly paying for the rest of Blue Ivy’s life. What does this mean for MIA? Can they do 20 stadiums in two months and still show up on the Parkway? What about LA? Will they try to make it to both? Now that’s just flashy and obnoxious, don’t you think?

Care to reminisce?

Summer #1 included a cover story preview and then a six-part blog account of it all. (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6)

Summer #2 was a nod to Kendrick Lamar and a five-post summary. (#1, #2, #3, #4, and #5)

A few things: Singles, shows and “she-mail”

Oh man! Robyn’s coming back, you guys. She and her boys Röyksopp have announced a mini-album ahead of their tour, both entitled Do It Again. Yesterday we got a snippet of “Monument,” the opening track for the May 26th release. And it is good. In a statement, the Norwegian DJ duo and producer homeboys to our Swedish Pop Princess, said: “This doesn’t sound like Röyksopp featuring Robyn, or Robyn produced by Röyksopp – it’s just something else entirely.” It’s also “rave-inspired” and “big thumping house.” Unfortunately, their tour doesn’t touch Philly but it’ll be nearby if you’re aggressive about it – namely August 20th at NYC’s Hudson River Park, or the following day, August 21st, at the Filene Arts (Wolf Trap) Center in Washington D.C.

Now, the other revelation in “thumping house music” is the dream team-up between Daphni and Owen Pallett. Details seem uncertain about the nature and potential future of the collaboration, which is primarily Dan Snaith (of both Caribou and Daphni fame) deftly employing the dancing, delicate violin work of the charming and Canadian mini-Andrew Bird. “Julia” and “Tiberius” are online now and, according to @CaribouBand, they’ll be available digitally and on vinyl before May. If you’re wondering, Pallett’s got a new record out on May 13th called In Conflict and, two days later, stops at Johnny Brenda’s. Did some digging, and couldn’t find but ONE live date for anything Dan Snaith/Daphni/Caribou, and that’s his Merge 25th Anniversary set in Chapel Hill in July.

You may have seen that the Flyers made the NHL playoffs? Well, Miley was kind enough to move her show up to Monday the 21st to avoid any conflicts of space use. That’s sweet of you, girl. The show’s been reportedly full of ridiculous props and outlandish stage antics. As of now, it seems like there are still tickets available (Comcasttix is being wonky, so the WFC box office could be worth a drive). P.S. Check back in on Wednesday for a Miley vs. Cher Diva Death Match. Cher’s at Wells Fargo later this month on the 28th.

Hey Steely Dan! Thanks for nothin’! Sheesh. Maybe because they booked the Mann last summer they feel like they’ve conquered the Philadelphia mountain? But their big announcement, of a HUGE national tour, lands everywhere but Philly: Erie, Pittsburgh, Bethlehem get PA stops, and Red Bank and Morristown get Jersey love. Feeling a little slighted over here.

But one that we are pumped about? Fleetwood Mac WITH Christine McVie! Oh man, this is going to be a show to remember. The only thing that sucks is that it’s in October and we have to wait six more months.

There sure has been a lot of Facebook ranting about LOGO’s decision to pull the line “You’ve Got She-mail” and to apologize for their perceived use of transphobic language. I touched on it in my LGBT feature earlier this month, but it’s been a weird language debate within the LGBTQA community ever since a March episode of RPDR brazenly (with willful silliness) employed the term “She-male” in less-than-thoughtful ways. There’ve been a ton of “think pieces” on it, with the most intriguing coming from Our Lady J for HuffPo, and it’s far too complex to unpack it here and now. From where I sit, comfortably in an office job where my sexuality and gender aren’t regularly called into question or scrutinized or ridiculed, there is far too much whining about the “overpolicing of language” (a phrase included in Our Lady J’s piece). Words can hurt. And even when you don’t MEAN for them to, they do; and it is indeed important that we continue to police our peers and friends’ use of words. We’ve learned over time that certain words are just not okay to use, and this RPDR lesson has taught us that “tranny” and “she-male” are hurtful words that shouldn’t be used, even if they’re used from drag queen to drag queen.

I’m From Driftwood’s spring brunch on Sunday is the best meal in Philly this weekend


This Sunday is an opportunity for the best kind of gay brunch you could possibly wish for: all class, a great cause, super food and drink, live entertainment, prizes and, clearly, fab company. Plus, you don’t need a reservation for ten on a Sunday afternoon because it’s already been made—you just have to RSVP/buy a ticket. Fine, they’re a little pricey at $75 for general admission, and VIP is $125, but look at what you get:

“Here’s the deal: Brunch, unlimited mimosas, Bloody Marys (made w/Tito’s Handmade Vodka!), wine, beer, raffle prizes, silent auction, live jazz music (by performers from the upcoming OutBeat jazz festival hosted by William Way).”

Curious about the raffles? Look at this list o’ prizes:

- 2 All-Access Passes to OutBeat, the nation’s first queer jazz festival, hosted by the William Way LGBT Community Center this September
- El Dorado Rum gift basket
- Tito’s Handmade Vodka gift basket
- LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics gift basket
- Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret package
- Bearded Ladies Cabaret
- “Alaska: Stevie Nicks” cabaret (NYC)
- Pet Acupuncture by Dr. Michael Anthony
- The Raven (hotel and restaurant in New Hope) gift package
- Bucks County Playhouse (theater in New Hope)
- Pig Iron Theater Company gift package
- 2 tickets to Throwing Shade LIVE at Johnny Brenda’s
- 2 tickets to “Evita” at The Kimmel Center
- 2 tickets to Opera Philadelphia’s “A Coffin in Egypt”
- 2 tickets to Philadelphia Theatre Company’s “A Boy and His Soul”
- InterAct Theatre Company
- 2 tickets to Plays & Players Theatre’s “Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll”
- 4 tickets to GayFest! from Quince Productions
- Ticket to My Big Gay Italian Funeral (NYC)
- First Person Arts
- Underground Arts
- 4 tickets to “A Boy and His Soul”
- Philly Sports Team apparel from Mitchell & Ness
- Autographed copy of Christopher Rice’s “The Heavens Rise”
- Bundle of LGBT-themed DVDs from Breaking Glass Pictures
- Cantina Dos Segundos dining certificate
- Fergie’s dining certificate
- Pennsylvania 6 dining certificate
- Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company gift certificate

Now, let’s get down to IFD.

I had a moment to chat with Marquise Lee, Philly’s main IFD man, a board member who’s worked hand-in-hand with founder Nathan Manske for years. Hopefully, you know the basic details about I’m From Driftwood as a project and as a site—the online story archive details coming-out stories around the country, and its mission is pretty much three-fold: “To let people know that they’re not alone; someone in the community can go on the Internet and can see someone from their hometown or the next town over,” Lee explains on the phone. In small towns or big states where the nearest city or liberal cluster can be a five-hour drive, this is an especially huge and reaffirming notion. “The second part is reaching out a hand to the straight community. The stories are non-confrontational. Sometimes we enter into dialogues with two different perspectives, but if you choose to watch it, there’s not an argument to be had. If you’re watching, you kind of take it for what it can be taken for. It’s inviting and apolitical.”

This could be one of IFD’s strongest weapons. How can you deny a queer person’s personal narrative? It’s way harder to deny a human their personhood when you see them cry as they tell stories of being beaten for their innate desires and hopes for love.

“The third aspect,” Lee continues, “involves the idea of storytelling in general. Storytelling is innate in human beings, and that’s where you get a lot of empathy. If someone’s telling a story, you’re kind of placing yourself in their experience. You put your experiences aside for a moment, and you tend to have empathy and that changes minds.”

What seems like a pretty simple notion—an LGBT story archive—turns out to have all kinds of watershed positive consequences. But on a very basic level, “If people in the LGBT community can be seen as human beings by telling their stories,” Lee says, essentially, it proves that “we’re not all that different.”

Struggles, sadness and tough times are not only shared experiences; they’re often the ties that bind us: “Stories about heartache and a breakup—everyone has had a breakup story and can identify with it. The vast majority of stories are just ordinary people living their lives.”

So if you can, help keep Philadelphia’s contribution to this outstanding national program lively and strong by treating yourself to a top-notch courtyard brunch in a building that stands for our city’s ongoing commitment to honoring every corner of our community.

Plus, let’s face it: A couple rounds of bloodies, a plate of eggs, plus tax and tip, and you’ll be spending $50 after waiting in line for a table you’ll get for an hour. Right?

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10 favorites from U Arts’ Art Unleashed 2014 exhibition, open through Tuesday

Chlose Sherman-PepeELY4print copy 2
Last night, I got the distinct pleasure of perusing the Art Unleashed 2014 collection; it’s essentially a huge art show, collecting work from current students, alums and faculty, where everything’s for sale—and it’s for a good cause: supporting the University’s Sam S. McKeel Promising Young Artists Scholarship Fund. The best part: It doesn’t just feature paintings. This is an excellent opportunity to acquire some high-end collectibles for your home at solid to not-astronomical prices.

One of the sweetest things about Art Unleashed is the variety of items you can purchase: there’s really tight jewelry, stunning sculpture and photography, perhaps in larger volume than paintings. The show’s open to the public in U Arts’ iconic red-doored Hamilton Hall, the building at 320 S. Broad Street, and it’s free. So even if you’re not buying, it’s a great cultural stroll. You’ll find that it’s not unlike a Barnes experience: There’s a pretty random mix of styles, often compactly-mounted alongside each other, with seemingly little rhyme or reason to the curation. You get what I’m saying.

It’s open from noon to 5 p.m., starting today, running through the 15th—and admission is free. I’m going to highlight some favorites that are still for sale. (There were lots of red dots marking “CLAIMED” status, and I’m pretty sure that come Tuesday, the good stuff’ll be gone!) I’ll just take you around the room in the way that I collected my favorites at the end of the night (check it online, if you like). Ready? Let’s go:

1. Samantha Moss (photo student, ‘14): “Forgot to Stop,” 8 x 10, $150
This is essentially a cool punk photo chick, from what I can surmise, as evidenced by a simple nasty kinetic rock moment printed on a block of metal. It puts you in a pit and manages to capture the beauty of terrifying catharsis.

Dyroff_Mistakes_012. Sean Dryoff (faculty, alumni, arts/printmaking): “A Mistake,” 20 x 24, $250
There’s something about this one; I think it was my favorite. The angle is just perfect—an easy mix of facing the camera and not at all. Clearly, there’s something in the coloring and the model that is compelling, but I don’t need him to turn around. I can see all that I need to from here.

3. Chloe Sherman-Pepe (alumni, photography ‘09): “Untitled #3,” 30 x 20, $410
These came as a series, and you can see the rest online, but this one was my favorite of hers. They’re very Grace Jones-painted-by-Keith Haring in a stark black and white palette, a series that gracefully and effortlessly captures movement (top, left).

4. You Ra Oh (student, painting ‘14): “Untitled,” 48 x 53, $700
Another favorite, this one’s huge and had great texture, listed as “cold wax, oil pastel, acrylic, charcoal, pencile on wood panel.” It has elements of maps and topography, and it’s an abstraction that distills both static, unmoving earth and undulating landscapes.

5. Angela Rio (illustration student ‘14): “Mental Health Awareness: Schizophrenia/Bipolar Disorder/Bulimia/OCD,” $800 each
These were incredible, a series of four boxes that could be considered small installations: shadow boxes that capture the essence of four mental health issues with exacting detail and artistic license. To know that this was made by an illustration student is kind of a marvel because they seem like all kinds of mediums conversing. They’re sold separately, it seems, and “OCD” is taken (top, right).

JFK6. Danny Gallego (student, painting ‘14): “JFK,” 18 x 24, $250
Another favorite: a magic mix of india ink and watercolor on paper that plays with Kennedy’s gender. Or sexuality. Or both. It’s a very Warholian Marilyn Monroe-inspired take on the handsome president, rouging his lips and shadowing his eyes. I would love this in my home.

7. Thomas Kelly (student, crafts ‘14): “#selfieawareness,” 24 x 60, $750
Perfectly capturing our of-the-moment obsession with photographing ourselves, this is a digitally-printed decal that puts a way-too-skinny white bitch in the center of a long, tall mirror taking an egregious selfie. She looks rail-thin and is even pouting a little. You want to kill her (and pull out your phone).

8. Shari Tobias (alumni, fine arts ‘90): “burka burka burka,” 20 x 17, $200
This one’s so fascinating that it pulls great worth from the work’s description: “performance art photograph, matte, frame.” Three women casually row boats in a public park not unlike Boston Commons, with only a little bit of face showing. It makes me think of the Gaga song, “Aura,” and also makes one think about a lot of things. Which is what good art does.

Newer Orleans9. Patrick Tumblety (alumni, film/digital video ‘07): “Newer Orleans,” 16 x 24, $100
There’s nothing brilliant about these; they’re just nice and affordable and would look really great in all kinds of homes and apartments. They’re nicely canvassed digital prints that capture color in vivid ways: New York Times at night, an exotic bird’s rare moment of stillness and, in my favorite, a gorgeous New Orleans house with a verdant double-decker porch.

10. Kevin McWilliams (alumni, photography ‘09): “Tomy, Philadelphia,” 20 x 24, $600
It’s hard to deny a brilliant portrait. McWilliams’ subject doesn’t seem particularly phased by the nature of posing or of being photographed. Tomy has a little bit of menace in his appearance, and yet the photo captures a little tenderness and perhaps a moment of guard-letting-down. It’s a piece of art that looks effortless, but you know that it isn’t.

Let’s talk about Dan Croll

I don’t get it. No one seems to be on board with this guy. I keep looking for my usual high-minded music critique sites to post a positive review (you know the ones: AV Club, P-Fork, Stereogum, etc.) or a review at all; meanwhile, his Metacritic aggregated score is a paltry 59. His debut LP, Sweet Disarray, came out on April 1st on Capitol. The 23-year-old’s an alum of the Paul McCartney-connected Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and because he won the Musicians Benevolent Fund’s national Songwriter of the Year Award, Croll earned a one-on-one with Sir Paul himself.

I think his new one, a record I’ve listened to at least ten times since it arrived on Spotify, is refreshingly simple but lovely. It’s pleasant for a number of reasons and contexts, and though I see some criticisms of it being too shallow (”I just want to compliment your soul” is bandied about as a sappy, corny chorus) as having some merit, I think it’s pretty typical that music not considered “strong enough” or “complex enough” gets ignored and in some cases, just plain hated on. (Really—a D+, man?)

If I were to pinpoint why I’ve been enjoying Disarray so much, it’s probably because it has notes and flavors of a lot of some of my favorite indie rock bands that pull out polyrhythms and feel like summer: Yeasayer, Local Natives, Vampire Weekend, Cults, Owen Pallett and even Paul Simon’s unending Graceland influence. He’s toured in support of HAIM and sounds like he’d fit nicely alongside newbs like CHVRCHES, St. Lucia and maybe even Phantogram. Croll even cites De La Soul as an inspiration. Do all of these records and bands just have more teeth or grit? Are media folk collectively ignoring him because he’s white, wears glasses and sings lines like “If you ever come ’round to my house, take your shoes off at the door/ Cos it’s impolite not to, you’ll be damaging my floor?”

He’s a gifted songwriter, clearly (the award and all), but also has a knack for production and arrangement. His compositions are nicely layered, with tones of a wide variety of genres making their way into the pleasing final package: gauzy synth pop, tribal-inspired percussion, chunky synthetic beats and nicely light vocals. It all seems like a one-man show—the man’s an multi-instrumentalist, anyway.

The first single, “From Nowhere” (below), is a great first track for Sweet Disarray. And the subsequent run of the next four songs contains two singles: “Compliment Your Soul” and “In/Out.” I’m really not even the slightest bit mad about the corniness of complimenting a soul; maybe I’m a romantic, but I like it. If you’re intrigued by the singles and Spotify spins, you can scope him at Union Transfer two Sundays from now (4/20).

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