Monthly Archives: August 2016

New on Pure Pop Radio 8.31.16

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Spins and Reviews | 8.31.16 | by Alan Haber

We’re playing these, and many thousands more, in rotation…

ryan allen and his extra arms basement punkRyan Allen and His Extra Arms | Basement Punk For his third album as the multi-instrumentalist with more upper limbs than a normal person would know what to do with, Ryan Allen rolls through eleven supercharged sides, plucking at guitar and bass strings, covering the circumference of keyboards, and bashing the bejeezus out of drum parts. In other words, it’s another exciting showcase for the amazing Mr. Allen, who is featured prominently on Nick Piunti’s new album. This album, out September 30, takes charge with strong melodies and ace playing and never lets up. “Gimmie Some More” kicks out a popped-up jam with lots of guitars and a sweet riff; “People Factory” is equally strong, and “Everything (In Moderation)” is a mid-tempo, melodic gem that closes out the proceedings. Mixed and mastered by Pure Pop Radio favorite Andy Reed, this one’s what we used to, and still do, call a keeper.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Chasing a Song,” “Mal n’ Ange,” “Gimme Sum More,” “People Factory,” “Gorgeous with Guitars,” and “Everything (In Moderation).”
black box When and Where to Get It: September 30 at Kool Kat Musik and Bandcamp.

vegas with randolph free your soulVegas With Randolph | “Free Your Soul” Our favorite Washington, D.C.-area popsters ramp up the electric guitars for a balls-to-the-wall rocker driven by runaway drums, plucking bass and the usual catchy melody. This tale of giving into the positive side of the eternal equation (“Sometimes it’s best to just let go/So free your soul”) will most certainly get you out of bed in the morning. Another VWR winner.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box When and Where to Get It: Bandcamp.

kenny herbert 3 bridgesKenny Herbert | “3 Bridges Queensferry Crossing” This typically lovely song from Kenny Herbert, about the three Forth bridges in Scotland, is a hearty tale and well worth reading about (click here for the full story). “3 Bridges Queensferry Crossing” celebrates the bridges, and as Kenny says, “the people who built it and the new Queensferry Crossing which is opening May 2017.” The song’s cover illustration depicts Kenny’s wife’s grandfather David Rendall who, Kenny points out, “worked on the Forth Rail Bridge for 30 years as the bridge carpenter until 1969. Davie’s father Thomas Rendall also worked on the bridge from 1903; he was a painter and lamplighter.” A little history and a lot of melody make for a heartwarming experience.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box Where to Get It: iTunes.

poppermost kelly green sundayPoppermost | “Kelly Green Sunday” The first new song from Alex Oliver, Roy Rendahl and Debbie Sanchez in two years is a welcome treat, an acoustic melding of southern California and uptempo folk influences emanating a kind of warm hootenanny atmosphere and sending out a message of old-fashioned love (“Oh Kelly Green, every time you think of me/Please keep Sunday just for you and me”). Joyous.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio.
black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp.

orbis maxOrbis Max | “Lonely,” “I Call Your Name,” “All of Me,” and songs from Orbis Max and Friends Beginning their shared trek playing covers back in 1973 in Poway, California, the group’s various members have connected in the here and now via the Internet to record their own songs. New members Dennis George, Rod Bennett and Bruce Walker have joined original Maxers such as Craig Carlstrom and Don Baake to release Orbix Max and Friends, a vibrant collection of catchy numbers like the upbeat, poppy “You May be the One” and “Don’t Tell Me It’s Over.” The group’s latest song, not on the album, is “Lonely,” a horn-infused Stax-meets-Motown soul-pop slice of joy. Two other songs, also not on Orbix Max and Friends, are choice covers of the Beatles’ “I Call Your Name,” and the old jazz standard “All of Me.” Fun stuff.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: From Orbis Max and Friends: “Standing Next to You,” “You May be the One,” “Glad She Found Me,” “Without You,” “Don’t Tell Me It’s Over,” and “Start All Over Again.” Tracks not on the album: “I Call Your Name” and “All of Me.”
black box Where to Get It: CD Baby and iTunes.

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Lots of Guitars, Bass, and Drums

And 10 pretty great songs. Nick Piunti’s latest has it all.

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Nick Piunti | Trust Your Instincts (2016)
A review by Alan Haber alan 5 small

(Win one of two copies of Nick Piunti’s Trust Your Instincts by entering our latest contest. Click here.)

nick piunti - trust your instincts smallThe black-and-white collage that sits underneath the plastic CD tray depicts a bespectacled Nick Piunti, eyes shut tight, t-shirt and sports jacket-clad, singing into a microphone maybe an inch from his lips, his Fano guitar slung over his shoulder at PJ’s Lager House in Detroit, pick plucking the strings, the fingers on his left hand perfectly placed on the fretboard. Nick’s cohorts–guitarist Ryan Allen and drummer Donny Brown, also bespectacled, and not-bespectacled bassist Andy Reed–are tending to their positions, strumming, plucking and pounding. You get the sense that the room they are playing in is shaking, or humming with at least the fury of the mighty Thor.

Just moments into the title song of Nick Piunti’s third solo album, you know your sense is spot on. The electric guitars rage and Donny Brown’s drums power up with Keith Moon-like intensity, and Nick’s vocals, committed and assured, take hold of the proceedings. If you close your eyes, you can imagine this song blowing through a packed house, raising the collective blood pressure of the people populating the dance floor.

This is how Trust Your Instincts rolls: Lots of guitars, bass, and drums played by the core band, with only a touch of guest accompaniment–pedal steel from David Feeny and a harmony vocal from Rachael Davis on “Dumb It Down”–added to the mix. This is the engine that powers these songs that fuel the intensity of Nick’s vision. This is the mix that makes these songs sing.

nick piunti photo smallThese songs take hold with emotion-filled spirit. The mid-tempo, melody-rich “Stay Where You Are” tells the tale of a stale relationship, one-half of which doesn’t quite get it: “Don’t you want to stay out of this dead end conversation/I think I’m gonna bail out/Running on fumes in the inspiration department…Stop me if you’ve heard this one before,” Nick sings. The title song, about trusting in yourself (“Time heals the deepest wounds/just as soon as you move on”), takes root, matching its lyrical prowess with every powerful beat.

“One Hit Wonder,” the album’s big, splashy, hit bound pure pop song, is perhaps the clear winner in an album full of them; the lyrics, always a high point of a Nick Piunti collection, are especially clever and vibrant (“Burned out before it began/If it was destined to be then we stuck to the plan”), and the melody is designed to never wear out its welcome.

The road to Trust Your Instincts, releasing on September 9 on Jem Records, has been a long and fruitful one for Nick Piunti, encompassing membership in a few bands, most notably the Respectables, and solo work that made heads turn and hearts embrace its many charms. Decades since first strapping on a guitar at age 12, the Michigan musician is trusting his instincts and has consequently turned in one of the best albums of the year. Guitars, bass, and drums indeed.

(Win one of two copies of Nick Piunti’s Trust Your Instincts by entering our latest contest. Click here.)

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Trust Your Instincts,” “One Hit Wonder,” “Dumb it Down,” “Ready for Whatever,” “As Far as I Know,” and “Stay Where You Are.”
black box When and Where to Get It: September 9 at Kool Kat Musik, Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp.

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Win Nick Piunti’s Trust Your Instincts CD!

nick piunti - trust your instincts smallIt’s let’s-give-something-away time again here at Pure Pop Radio. We’ve got two sealed copies of Nick Piunti’s soon-to-be-released CD, Trust Your Instincts, in our hot little hands. They could be in yours. (See Alan’s review of this contender for best-of-the-year honors by clicking here.)

As usual, it’s easy to enter. Simply fill in the form that follows and send it on its way to us by this Friday, September 2, at 5 pm ET. Be sure to include your email address and type “Nick” in the comments field.

We’ll pick two winners, each of whom will get this CD on or about the release date, September 9, courtesy of Jem Records. You could be a winner. You, too! Enter today! And good luck!

 

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Break Out the Sunscreen and Your Beach Blanket: Catching a Wave Debuts Tonight on Pure Pop Radio

waveJammin’ James Riley’s weekly celebration of the sounds of summer, Catching a Wave, hits your virtual beach tonight at 9 pm ET right here on Pure Pop Radio.

Lay out the blankets, stack the snacks and cold beverages, and slather on the SPF: It’s summertime all year long when Jammin’ James Riley spins the coolest sounds of the warmest season. There’s a whole lot of summertime fun in store for you on this fun (fun, fun) show. “Catching a Wave is the sounds of summer, surf and good-time rock and roll,” says Jammin’ James. “It’s the only place where it’s summer all year long!”

jammin james rileyOn tonight’s debut show, Jammin’ James spins the Monkees’ “You Bring the Summer,” the Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” “the Rip Chords’ “Hey Little Cobra,” Jim Messina and His Jesters’ “Honky Tonk,” and the Explorers Club’s “California’s Callin’ Ya,” among many others. It’s the sweet sounds of the summer packed tightly into an hour-long celebration, tonight at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio.

Catching a Wave airs every Monday night at 9 pm ET on Pure Pop Radio, right after Ken Michael’s Beatles extravaganza, Every Little Thing. Join Jammin’ James Riley, the summer sun, a comfy beach blanket, and a whole lot of SPF as you soak up the coolest sounds around.

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Bob Lind, Jamie Hoover, and Mark Bacino In Conversation Shows Now Available for Listening and Downloading

Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation on PodOMatic!

Recent Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation shows starring classic singer-songwriter Bob Lind, the great Jamie Hoover, and melodic popster Mark Bacino are now available for listening and downloading on In Conversation’s PodOmatic podcast page.

bob lind posebob lind magellanBob Lind spoke to Alan Haber on August 23 about his brand-new album, Magellan Was Wrong, just out on Big Beat/Ace. On the docket: the stories behind three of Bob’s new songs–“Blind Love,” “Magellan Was Wrong,” and “From the Road”–and a celebration of the iconic song “Elusive Butterfly,” 50 years young this year.

jamie hover photo smallJamie Hoover spoke to Alan, also on August 23, about producing many of the songs on Bob’s album, Magellan Was Wrong. He also spoke about what it’s like to produce Bob, how he goes about arranging Bob’s tunes, and how Bob’s music has affected his own work. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes discussion. Plus, he talked about “Elusive Butterfly,” a song that has meant so much to him.

mark bacinoClassic melodic popster Mark Bacino appeared on In Conversation on July 26 to talk about his typically-catchy new song, “Not that Guy.” In addition, we set the WABAC (pronounced Wayback) Machine for 1998, when Mark’s first album, Pop Job…the Long Player!, was released on Parasol Records. Mark talks about the album’s song “Kay.”

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Seth Swirsky Talks Shapes of All Sizes on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation

seth swirsky keyboardHe starts off charting a course around circles and squares and, along the way, tackles the intricacies of negotiating the other shapes that define his life on next week’s all-new edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation.

seth swirsky new album coverSeth Swirsky sits behind the microphone next Tuesday night, August 30, at 8 pm ET and speaks with Alan Haber about his career-best long player, Circles and Squares, an ingenious song cycle about life’s twists and turns. The album’s melodically-charged songs reveal the truth about all of our lives, right from the first track, “Shine,” his statement of purpose, the one that sets the stage for what comes next.

seth swirsky photoDuring this show, Seth talks about how what he has accomplished in his career has brought him to this new album; he takes a look at three songs in particular and peels back the layers of emotion that define them. As a bonus, Alan plays a classic song from Seth’s first album, Instant Pleasure, and gets the artist’s take on it.

Don’t miss this opportunity to go in-depth with Seth Swirsky on an all-new edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, airing next Tuesday, August 30, at 8 pm ET. And be on the lookout for news of the next round of first-run shows; an announcement is coming next week.

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Bob Lind, Jamie Hoover, the Beatles, and Classic Pop and Rock Star in this Week’s Specialty Show Lineup

mic-small 10Gather ’round your Internet radio receptacles this week for some top-flight specialty shows starring classic singer-songwriters Bob Lind and Jamie Hoover, the Beatles, and some of the greatest classic rock and pop artists of all time. It’s another cool week of fun specialty shows on Pure Pop Radio. (And don’t forget: The debut of Jammin’ James Riley’s Catching a Wave makes a big splash next Monday night, August 28, at 8 pm ET!)

bob lind posebob lind magellanTomorrow night, Tuesday, August 23, classic singer-songwriter Bob Lind talks with Alan Haber about his new album, Magellan Was Wrong, on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation at 8 pm ET. Bob goes in-depth on three of the album’s songs, talking about what he was trying to get across, his writing process, and his views on a number of informative topics. He also talks at length about his iconic song “Elusive Butterfly,” which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. You’ll hear “Elusive Butterly,” as well as “Blind Love,” “From the Road,” and the title song from Magellan Was Wrong.

jamie hover photo smallA few minutes after Bob’s interview concludes, frequent In Conversation guest Jamie Hoover speaks about his role as producer of many of the songs on Magellan Was Wrong. He talks about what it’s like to produce Bob Lind, how he goes about arranging Bob’s tunes, and how Bob’s music has affected his own work. As a bonus, you’ll hear Jamie’s version of “Elusive Butterly,” which appeared on his great Lind Me Four EP in 2008.

needle meets vinylOn Wednesday night at 8 pm ET, Brian Bringelson works the turntables for show number 40 of his Needle Meets Vinyl series, spinning a Beatles three-fer and songs from the Shins, the B-52s, Stephen Stills, Harry Nilsson, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, America, and David Crosby & Graham Nash, among other great artists. Don’t miss this episode, quite possibly Brian’s best set yet.

the-beatles-things-we-said-todayWinding up this week’s run of specialty shows on Pure Pop Radio is the latest episode of the weekly Beatles roundtable, Things We Said Today. This time around, Ken Michaels, Steve Marinucci, Al Sussman and Allan Kozinn preview the Beatles’ Live at the Hollywood Bowl CD, releasing on September 9. In addition, Al reports on the just-concluded Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans, where Klaus Voorman, Peter Asher, Billy J. Kramer, Joey Molland, Mark Hudson and author Bruce Spizer were among the guests. Also, recent interviews with Paul McCartney, appearing in Rolling Stone and The New York Times, are discussed.

jammin james rileywaveIt’s another week of can’t-miss listening on Pure Pop Radio. Gather round your Internet radio receptacles for the best specialty programming around. And get ready for the debut of Jammin’ James Riley’s Catching a Wave next Monday night, August 29, at 9 pm ET!

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Bob Lind and Jamie Hoover Guest on Next Week’s Double-Play Edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation

mic-small 10Bob Lind, one of music’s most iconic writers and performers, guests on next week’s brand-new, double-play edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation along with Jamie Hoover, who produced many of the songs on Lind’s latest album, Magellan Was Wrong. Alan Haber speaks to both musicians next Tuesday night, August 23, right here on Pure Pop Radio.

bob lind magellanLind and Hoover appear in lively, information-packed, separate interviews. Lind, whose interview airs first at 8 pm ET, goes in-depth on three of the songs on Magellan Was Wrong, talking about what he was trying to get across, his writing process, and his views on a number of informative topics.

bob lind poseLind also talks at length about his iconic song “Elusive Butterfly,” which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. You’ll hear “Elusive Butterly,” as well as “Blind Love,” “From the Road,” and the title song from Magellan Was Wrong.

Fjamie hover photorequent guest Jamie Hoover’s interview airs at approximately 9:06 pm ET in the second half of this historic double-play edition of In Conversation. Jamie speaks in his role as producer of many of the songs on Magellan Was Wrong. He talks about what it’s like to produce Bob Lind, how he goes about arranging Bob’s tunes, and how Bob’s music has affected his own work. As a bonus, you’ll hear Jamie’s version of “Elusive Butterly,” which appeared on his great Lind Me Four EP in 2008.

Alan’s interviews with Bob Lind and Jamie Hoover kick off a long string of new talks with pop music’s greatest artists, all of which will be airing in the weeks to come on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation. Don’t miss a single moment!

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Pure Pop Radio’s State of the Union: Everything’s Jake

70000Or fine, you know. Whichever word suits you, Pure Pop Radio’s website is a gangbusters kind of operation. We’ve just logged our 69,989th view of our 553 posts made over a period of two years and eight months, which is pretty jake, as we are wont to opine. And in case you were wondering, 33,793 lovers of melodic pop have visited our humble home.

In other words, and we are all about the words, we couldn’t be happier and wanted to share the news with you, our faithful readers and fans of the melodic pop that we all love.

server farmThis past weekend was quite the bear for us; an all-night, Friday-into-Saturday morning session mending quite the dustup our broadcast software was having with the server it sat on occupied our time, which necessitated our having to put another server into service and our having to install new (actually older) software to keep things on the jake side of the equation. In any case, things are fine now–in fact, they’re better than they’ve ever been, if truth be told. The pop is making its way out to the masses and the airwaves are that much happier.

We’re that much happier, too; we’ve got some exciting, upcoming programming to tell you about in detail when the time is right. For now, though, here are the broad strokes: Monday, August 29, finds Jammin’ James Riley’s brand-new Beach Boys-and-associated-sounds show, Catching a Wave, debuting on our air. We’ve got no less than seven all-new Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation episodes coming your way. And…well, that would be telling, so stay tuned for the latest information on that there stuff.

jack chinatownStay tuned, indeed. We’re on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and, here comes the truth again, 365 days a year. That’s a whole lot of marvelous melodies, harmonious harmonies, and hooks to enjoy. And remember, we’re adding new songs all the time; we’re currently rotating more than 9,000 of those babies for your listening, romancing and dancing pleasure. Everything is jammin’ and jake around here.

But enough about us: This is all about you, our faithful fans. Why not click on one of the listen links below and sing along if you know the words. Meanwhile, we’re getting back to work. There is so much to do!

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Seth Swirsky’s Wonderful, Bigger Truth

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Spins and Reviews | 8.11.16 | by Alan Haber

seth swirsky new album coverSeth Swirsky | Circles and Squares
Listening to and absorbing and becoming one with the songs contained on Seth Swirsky’s amazing new album Circles and Squares, I turned inward and posed the following question:

You know those things in life that just click with you upon a first gaze or as they first come within earshot, those things that are more than just things, that are tangible signs that your life has been changed if only a little bit, or perhaps a lot, and perhaps you’re not the same as you were before and you know in your heart of hearts that things are going to be different from now on?

For those of a certain age, or really, any age at all, those moments that speak to what make us who we are, that speak to who we’ve become because something has changed the way we look at things, are hard to quantify, but we try to take them at their word as they announce themselves as part of us and define how we are affected by this, that, and the other thing.

The thing is, hearing music as one of the things that defines us is easy for those for whom a sly key change, or a simple and direct melody played out against a complicated chord structure, or the introduction of a square instrumental peg into a round hole is an exciting event. And, depending on the song, there could be one or two or even more events that work in concert to make us smile or cry or define our emotions in a new and invigorating way.

seth swirsky photoThere are only so many notes and keys and tempos to work with, so if you’re a songwriter who is also a performer, and as a performer, you play the lion’s share of the instruments that paint your musical picture, and you come up with a song that makes a listener smile or laugh or even cry, you’ve done something special, something truly extraordinary, painting with the tools in your toolbox in your own quite special way.

Which is exactly what Seth Swirsky has done. He began writing songs to order, back in the day, for a variety of performers. He wrote books about baseball, and he collected baseballs, so many of which are classified as rare. And, more importantly, he started writing and performing his own music. This latest batch of songs that speak the truth about his life and ours too quite simply towers over just about everything he has done before. It will be tough to beat after the dust has settled on this monumental album, Circles and Squares, releasing on August 19.

Proving that a creative, heartfelt approach to making music will yield magic almost every time, Swirsky has crafted a collection of songs that draws on all of his strengths, and perhaps incorporates a couple of new ones. Moreover, these songs reveal the truth about all of our lives, right from the first track, “Shine,” his statement of purpose, the one that sets the stage for what comes next. The song’s melodious mix of Beach Boys, Free Design, and Burt Bacharach touchstones; gorgeous harmony stacks, with voices sitting on top of and passing around and through each other, and clever sectioning of ideas that also fit together, work as one.

seth swirsky hanging“Shine” slides effortlessly into “Circles and Squares/Go,” initially a sprightly pop confection that ever so slightly incorporates a hint of the Beatles’ “I’ll Be Back” and, halfway through, turns into an introspective plea to move on and change one’s approach to life. A mix of Beatles Rubber Soul and 1970s soft-pop atmosphere, “Old Letter” carries that idea further, singing a song about holding on to memories in the face of trying to move forward into happiness. “Let’s Move to Spain,” adopting an early rock ‘n’ roll groove (think “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”), concerns itself with shedding one’s memories, leaving material possessions behind, and transplanting the physical form to a place where the only things that are real are the feelings between one another.

Could there be anything more real…a bigger truth? Can we live with our gaze placed firmly on the little things in life, on minimizing what we interact with on a daily basis? It probably depends on how many of those little things are in play. In the Byrdsian popper “Table,” the table is crowded and needs a simplifying of its space. And in the lovely confessional and autobiographical “I Don’t Have Anything (If I Don’t Have You),” the narrator allows that life means nothing at all without the proverbial “one”: “I’ve got some baseballs/That are pretty rare/Got a swimming pool/And a fast car/But I don’t care/’Cause I don’t have anything if I don’t have you…I’ve got gold records/Hanging on my wall/But without your love/Baby you can have ’em all…”

Which is not to say that the music on Circles and Squares matches Swirsky’s lyrical introspection note for note; indeed, the music is generally pretty and sweet and full of joy and played almost exclusively by Swirsky himself; against this base, the author’s words are made to shine. So these 16 songs, the best that their author has brought together–better than the groups of songs on his debut, Instant Pleasure, and his second album, Watercolor Day, which is really saying something–shine too. They shine brightly and provide a beacon for emotional truth.

seth swirsky keyboardIn this album’s opening statement of purpose, “Shine,” Swirsky’s celebration of melody and, especially, harmony, of happiness and joy and how it can and should be, shows what this kind of talent can mold out of what wasn’t there before; imagine sitting down at your table with a blank slate in front of you and summoning the courage to translate your ideas into something as beautiful as this.

That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about crafting beauty and working through one’s emotions to come out healed on the other side. These 16 songs, circles and squares one and all, are the latest expression of craft brought forth by one of pop music’s most important artists. These are the things that matter, and in Seth Swirsky’s hands, they sing.
black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: “Shine,” “Circles and Squares/Go,” “Old Letter,” “Far Away,” “Trying to Keep It Simple,” “Belong,” “Sonic Ferris Wheel,” “Let’s Move to Spain,” “Table,” and “Don’t Have Anything (If I Don’t Have You).”
black box When and Where to Get It: Circles and Squares releases on August 19 at seth.com and retailers such as Kool Kat Musik, Amazon and iTunes.

 

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