Tag Archives: Michael Doherty’s Music Log

Michael Doherty’s Music Log Review: LINDSAY BELLOWS “WAKE TO DREAM”

30 Nov

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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2017

Lindsay Bellows: “Wake To Dream” (2017) CD Review

The debut release from Lindsay Bellows, Wake To Dream, is a delightful EP of pop music with folk elements and soulful vocals, and plenty of positive vibes. It features all original material, written by Lindsay Bellows. Joining her on this CD are Ananda Vaughan on guitar, Jared May on bass, Beau Askew on drums, Makila Wind on keys, and Jason O’Keefe on percussion, with Spencer Williams on drums on certain tracks. This is a disc I appreciate more each time I listen to it.

Lindsay kicks off the CD with “Slow Steady,” one of my favorite tracks. It has a cool, kind of playful opening with a simple groove on keys and vocals, and I’m hooked from the start. There is also something quite catchy about this song, and it, like all the tunes on this EP, features hopeful and encouraging ideas. Check out these lines: “When I reach too far ahead, there is nothing to hold onto/Fall too far behind, and I’ll never catch up/Release the things I caught and crave/Make peace with things I hate.” Toward the end of the song she sings, “I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.” How often do we feel that way? Spencer Williams plays drums on this track.

Lindsay’s vocals are the focus in “Wake Up,” which begins with lines delivered a cappella. In this song, she offers a positive image of a reality. “I woke up and I saw things in a different way/Words changed meaning, darkness faded/People I know, places I’d been/Didn’t look the same/But this is a beautiful world.” While she’s singing of her own personal experience, the fact that the song is titled “Wake Up” and not “Woke Up” indicates a reaching out to others, like she wants everyone to have the same positive experience that she’s had. Pretty cool. That’s what we need these days. “Heal each other/Listen.” Plus, I dig that bass line.

“Part Life” has more of a pleasant, bright folk vibe, and is another of my favorites. There is something catchy about this one too. These lines certainly speak to me: “Stuck in my head about my day, all I did and didn’t do/Set on a schedule, I can’t miss a beat/Gotta eat, fall asleep, wake up, work, cycle, repeat.” What strikes me especially is that part about being stuck on the things I’ve done with my day as well as the things I haven’t done. How often do we measure our days by little accomplishments and the things we did not accomplish? “This is only a part life that I’m living/Only part of me is alive/And that part is part of something greater, I know/And I can’t wait to feel what that’s like.”

“Wild And Free” has a cool, kind of sexy vibe and attitude, and features more good work on bass. “Climb the tree of life and I eat that fruit/Eyes opening now, I start seeing the truth/The only way to survive is to turn to our roots.” The EP then concludes with “Simple Gifts,” a cheerful pop song offering advice and reminders, such as “Don’t try to get rich, just surround yourself with friends” and “You don’t need an important job to do important work.”

CD Track List

  1. Slow Steady
  2. Wake Up
  3. Part Life
  4. Wild And Free
  5. Simple Gifts

Wake To Dream was released on November 7, 2017.

POSTED BY MICHAEL DOHERTY AT 10:07 PM

 

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US Review: Acting Natural “Acting Natural” EP

16 Nov

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SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2017

Looking at the cover of Acting Natural’s self-titled debut EP, it’s easy to guess this trio was influenced by The Beatles. And of course the band’s name makes me think of the Buck Owens song “Act Naturally,” which was famously covered by The Beatles in 1965, with Ringo Starr on lead vocals. And, sure, The Beatles are among this young group’s influences. But they’re not trying to copy that band, and their sound takes inspiration from other places and other decades than the 1960s. They possess a good sense of fun, and they seem to have given a good deal of attention to getting the vocals just right. The band is made up of Eric Carnevale on vocals, guitar, piano, organ and percussion; James David Maney on bass and vocals; and Jesse Leonard on drums and vocals. Originally from Tampa, Florida, they are now based in New York.

The CD’s opening track, “The One,” has a distinct 1960s pop rock sound, both in the music and in the vocal delivery, especially in the way they harmonize. But it is not an attempt to imitate a particular sound, but rather it shows a mix of influences. For example, the cool bass line has a more contemporary feel. And partway through, the song takes on a different groove for an interesting bridge. The lyrics are fairly straightforward: “I don’t wanna play games/I don’t wanna be the fool/I just wanna be the one for you.” And who doesn’t want to hear that? That’s followed by “Nicole,” which has a mellower pop sound. This one has more of a 1980s thing happening, particularly in the chorus.

For me, this EP starts to really get going with “Pairadice,” a fun and catchy tune, its title obviously a play on the word “paradise” – that love is both a glorious thing and a gamble. They play on that idea throughout, with lines like “You can’t win every time” and “Sometimes I think I must have lost my mind.” But it’s the sound of this one that really makes it a memorable track, with elements of disco and a catchy vocal line in the chorus. It’s ultimately a positive-sounding tune. As good as it is, it’s the following track, “Bloom,” that is my personal favorite. This one has a sweeter folk-pop vibe that is absolutely wonderful. And check out the opening lines: “Oh, the snow, the birds and the bees/And the gin and the weed and the love.” I love how they start to establish a sort of cheesy vibe with that first line, “the birds and the bees,” then immediately work against that with the second line, which is a continuation of the thought, but in a more realistic direction. “The years tick by/The toys and the bikes and the games/And the spies, they just don’t shine like they used to/Holidays just aren’t the same.” This is a really good song.

“Early Morning,” to my ears, has the most obvious nod to The Beatles in its sound. “Left my heart open like a door that I kept cracked/Just for you.” The EP then concludes with a fun, solid rock song titled “Missed The Train.” “I missed the train/Wondered why I came/Addicted to the pain/In every memory that we made.” And I love that lead on guitar in the second half of the song.

CD Track List

  1. The One
  2. Nicole
  3. Pairadice
  4. Bloom
  5. Early Morning
  6. Missed The Train

Acting Natural was released on CD on October 27, 2017. It was released digitally on September 22nd.

POSTED BY MICHAEL DOHERTY AT 12:20 AM

Michael Doherty’s Music Log Review: Rocker-T “The Return Of The Tru Ganjaman”

19 Sep

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“Though I do like reggae, I don’t listen to a whole lot of it, partly because it sometimes begins to feel repetitive to me. But Rocker-T (Toby Petter Herskind Sorensen), on his CD The Return Of The Tru Ganjaman, does some interesting and delightful things with the form. And he’s joined by several guest musicians, including Mykal Rose and Ras Indio. This album really grew on me. Yes, it deals with a lot of the same subjects, same themes as most reggae music – peace, marijuana, and so on – but so much of it feels new here, even as those particular subjects are tackled. The main thing is that this music makes me happy, and we can all use some of that these days.

“Yankee & Yardee” is reggae with a heavy dance beat. I have absolutely no idea what he’s singing here, at least for much of the song, but I’m enjoying the groove. And toward the end he calls out a few familiar names: “Sugar, Dennis and Gregory/Peter, Bunny, Bob Marley.” Folks that current musicians acknowledge a debt to. Gappy Ranks (Jacob Lee Williams) then joins Rocker-T on “Need Some,” which has more of a familiar feel and has a positive sound. Mykal Rose and Mr. Williamz join him for “Disgrace.” “Why is it that they can’t unite?/Why is that they can’t stand together?” Good questions, and presented over a catchy groove.

The song that really got me excited about this disc is “Herbalist.” It is so catchy, so joyful, and it features Mama-T on vocals. The first time I listened to this album, this is the song that grabbed me, the song that turned my day around with its positive, bright sounds. It’s a wonderful track, dedicated to the herbalists “who bring all the healing,” and knocking the ridiculous war on drugs. “Let go the herbalist, you let him be/Let go the herbalist, you set him free.” And of course you can dance to it. So there. It’s followed by another stand-out track, “Man Ah Warrior.” It has just a bit of a New Orleans Dixie jazz vibe that makes me love it. It’s an overall fresh sound, and by this point in the disc I was totally in.

Bass player and vocalist Skip Wicked (Spencer Burton) of Indubious joins Rocker-T on “Chillum,” an unusual and excellent song with something of a tribal rhythm and some impressive vocal delivery. I want to lose myself in the beat, close my eyes and dance until the walls disappear. It has that kind of power, you know? And it’s followed by yet another highlight, “Garden Of Goodness.” It’s funny that a song celebrating marijuana should begin with the sound of someone coughing. But there you have it. This song is a lot fun, and has a delightfully fresh and bright feel. “In the garden of goodness/There’s a weed for releasing my stress/Oh yes, it’s the best/In the garden of goodness/Marijuana caught my interest.” Jah Wave and Ras Indio join Rocker-T on this track. Then Prezident Brown joins Rocker-T on “Blazing Everyday,” obviously another song about smoking marijuana.

Just a couple of months before the release of this CD, Rocker-T put out a disc titled Tru Ganjaman: The Remixes, which contains twenty-three versions of “Tru Ganjaman.” If that CD didn’t provide enough of that song for you, this CD gives you “Tru Ganjaman Megamix,” which I suppose is the title track. Oddly, I don’t find this track nearly as compelling or enjoyable as everything that precedes it. This one ends with coughing. And the tracks that follow it are all remixes of earlier songs, including two versions of “Real Singer Smoker” (I prefer the Phibes Remix) and two versions of “One Million Matches.”

CD Track List

  1. Yankee & Yardee
  2. Need Some
  3. Disgrace
  4. Herbalist
  5. Man Ah Warrior
  6. Chillum
  7. Garden Of Goodness
  8. Blazing Everday
  9. Life Over Death
  10. Tru Ganjaman Megamix
  11. Ganja Slengin (Nickynutz Remix)
  12. Real Singer Smoker (Mt. Analogue Remix)
  13. One Million Matches (Yungg Trip Remix)
  14. Militant & Real (Ill Text Trap-A-Lot Mafia Remix)
  15. Real Singer Smoker (Phibes Remix)
  16. One Million Matches (Mylk Remix)

The Return Of The Tru Ganjaman was released on June 17, 2016. By the way, the digital release of this album contains three more tracks.”

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For more on Rocker-T, check out his website: www.rocker-t.com

Check out this outstanding review of Pete Kronowitt’s “A Lone Voice”

1 May

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“Our nation has entered some seriously dark times. Just today I had two people tell me they were going to report me to the authorities for humorous comments I made about Donald Trump, and they were serious. And they were proud, and they felt righteous. It’s a case of the worst that this country has to offer suddenly feeling itself in a position of power, people who ordinarily might be silent suddenly shouting their insane thoughts to the rest of us and expecting us to bow under the heavy waves of their nonsense. In a time when we desperately need gun control, we have a delusional bastard at the helm eliminating the gun regulations that were in place, arguing that we need guns in schools and that the mentally ill should be allowed to purchase weapons. At a time when it is critical for us to address climate change, we have an administration that wants to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency altogether. Meanwhile our privacy is quickly disappearing, giving way to corporate and government interests (the two being difficult to tell apart these days), with Donald Trump eliminating online privacy protections. These are dark times.

Fortunately, there are many voices rising up against this dangerous tide of tyranny. One such voice is that of singer/songwriter Pete Kronowitt. On his fourth full-length album, A Lone Voice, Pete Kronowitt offers reason and truth, two things that are completely lacking in the current government. Joining him on this album are Phil Madeira on guitar, piano, organ and accordion; David Mansfield on guitar, mandolin, and violin; Chris Donohue on bass; and Dennis Holt on drums. Also, he is joined by backing vocalists on certain tracks. All of these songs are originals, written or co-written by Pete Kronowitt.

Pete Kronowitt kicks off the CD with “Change Is Gonna Come.” Yes, this song contains a positive, optimistic perspective and message, something we all need right now. “All it takes is just your voice/Change is gonna come.” One verse that I love is about the politician who won’t accept corporate funding: “I may not get elected/Without some change from everyone.” Of course I appreciate the play on the word “change.” By the way, this song has an upbeat, positive sound as well. On this song, Pete Kronowitt is joined by Halley Elwell, Eric Kamm, Justin Hetrick, Jack Kertzman, Judith May and Jaimeson Durr on backing vocals. “Change Is Gonna Come” is followed by “Got Guns?” I am diametrically opposed to guns. I don’t believe there is a single person on this planet sane enough to be allowed to own one. And the idea that the solution to the gun problem is more guns is just as absurd as it sounds. As you might guess, this song is one of my favorites, and it is sadly ever more pertinent each day, especially with Donald Trump apparently determined to get guns into the hands of children and the mentally ill. These lines, for example, seem particularly apt in light of Donald’s recent activities (and this album was released in the summer of 2016): “Don’t tell me that you’re too young/If you have a hand, get a gun/Guns on the playground, guns at school” and “Guns in asylums, guns in bars/What do you do without a gun in your car?” And hey, don’t be surprised if you find yourself dancing around to this song.

Not all of the songs on this album, however, have political messages. “Tears On The Back Of Her Head” is a mellow and incredibly moving song with a much more personal feel and some beautiful work on violin. Some lines of this song nearly have me in tears, such as “I’m trying to remember every word she ever said” and “She’s moving on without me.” That’s followed by “You Are Here,” a pretty and gentle song that might remind you a bit of some of Eric Clapton’s material. “Holding Your Hand” is a beautiful love song, and is one of my favorites of the album. Halley Elwell joins him on vocals on this one. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Years pass like a whisper/After all we’ve been through/But I can’t imagine time without you/The distance between us just disappears.” I am thankful for this song, for it’s making me feel closer to my love tonight. “There ain’t nothing like holding your hand.”

“Necessary Evils” is an upbeat country rock song with a strong message, and more good work on violin. The phrase “necessary evil” always seemed bizarre to me, like accepting of something that certainly shouldn’t ever be accepted. “Unemployment keeps wages down/So business makes profit, the economy is sound.” This song and at least one or two others remind me a bit of Elvis Costello. Then “Puppet Master” has a fun groove, and also a message. “That puppet master puts on a damn good show/You think you know what is true.” That’s certainly an issue these days. What is true? What is real? In a land where the leader lies with every single breath, while remaining completely unashamed, even cocky, Truth is a rare commodity. And the idea of it being a commodity is also part of the point, isn’t it? “Just because it’s shiny and new/Doesn’t mean it is true/Folks can be bought in this red, white and blue/We’re all bought and sold in this red, white and blue.”

“Body, Choice & Mind” is another important song, dealing with a woman’s right to choose (something else that is threatened by Donald Trump’s regime). “Don’t let personal circumstance/Dictate your stance, dictate your stance/Roe vs. Wade, it’s the decision/Don’t let them make a fatal revision/No butcher’s going to cut no friend of mine.”  There is a cool instrumental section with some nice work on keys. This song has a bluesy edge. In “The Beast,” Pete Kronowitt sings, “I can’t read the paper/Too much bad news out there/All this violence and killing/Nobody seems to care.”  The album ends with an intimate song titled “Perfect Day.” “You had a perfect day/Then you went far away/And all the pain and all the fear/That one day did disappear.”

CD Track List

  1. Change Is Gonna Come
  2. Got Guns?
  3. Tears On The Back Of Her Head
  4. You Are Here
  5. Necessary Evils
  6. Puppet Master
  7. Holding Your Hand
  8. Body, Choice & Mind
  9. Follow The Leader
  10. The Beast
  11. She Gives
  12. Perfect Day

A Lone Voice was released on July 15, 2016 through Mean Bean Records.”

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For more information and touring schedule visit: http://www.petekronowitt.com/

For music samples or to order A Lone Voice visit: https://petekronowitt.bandcamp.com/

For interview requests contact Billy James at Glass Onyon PR: glassonyonpr@gmail.com or 828-350- 8158

For live performance booking or management inquiries contact Mean Bean Records: booking@meanbeanrecords.com

Michael Doherty’s Music Log Review: Mark Duda “Month of Sundays”

31 Mar

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I wasn’t all that familiar with Mark Duda’s work before I popped in his new CD, Month Of Sundays. I hadn’t heard his bands The Handful or Mad City Rockers, because I don’t listen to a whole lot of hard rock. And so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it did not take long before I was drawn in, and then interested, and then nearly gleeful at the music I heard, almost giddy. Seriously, this CD came as a wonderful surprise. It’s rock, absolutely, no question. But it’s rock with some style (but not bullshit) and with some care taken in crafting its lyrics. And it reminded me of some of the best rock of the 1970s. I am glad to know albums like this one are still being made. All six songs on this EP were written or co-written by Mark Duda. He is joined by Handful  band mate Jimi K. Bones on guitar, percussion and backing vocals; Thommy Price (from Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, Scandal) on drums; and Kenny Aaronson (from Stories) on bass. There are also a few guest musicians on certain tracks.

Mark Duda kicks off Month Of Sundays with its title track, which first sounds fairly straightforward. But then the chorus reminds me of some classic Meat Loaf tunes, the vocals carrying that kind of strength and confidence and exuberance, and that’s when I start getting really interested. And by the end of this track, I am totally on board. “You don’t want to hold me down/You just want your hooks in me.” I’m hooked. That’s followed by “Murder On Delancey,” which has a good, straightforward rock sound, and some surprising lyrics. “I am crying/I cannot save her/I am screaming/Bloody murder.” Joining Mark Duda on this track are Cheetah Chrome (from The Dead Boys) on guitar and Bobby Rondinelli (from The Handful) on drums.

Probably my favorite track on this CD is “Standoff Love,” which opens like some classic rock ‘n’ roll tune, complete with saxophone. That’s Arno Hecht on sax, whom you likely know as a member of The Uptown Horns, a group that has toured with The Rolling Stones. And he’s fantastic on this track. Again Mark Duda reminds me a bit of Meat Loaf here, with that obvious love of pure rock and roll in his blood, mixed with unusual lyrical content, creating a captivating combination that is also a whole lot of fun. “Cursing my name under your last breath/Wondering how in the hell you fell in my trap/It’s a death wish, honey, hanging around too long.” Those are the song’s opening lines. And check out these lyrics: “I’m just a wanted man/I know I wasn’t there/Please see my point of view/It’s not that I didn’t care.” I love this song. It was written by Jimi K. Bones and Mark Duda.

Then “Worse For Wear” is a slower rock tune. “I couldn’t help myself/And you couldn’t care less.” I also like these lines: “Lie to me, lie to me/Lie to me, lie to me/Take all the worst out of what you think you see/And hold it over my head.” That’s followed by “Connection,” which has a great 1970s rock feel, complete with cowbell. This song takes me right back to my youth, but again, the lyrics are good. “She’s got friends on the jury, friends on the jury/Whoa, she used to be my mainstay/Hey, hey, hey, hey/Well, she used to be my connection.” This track also features some fun electric guitar work. The EP then concludes with “Subway Song,” which opens with a decidedly lo-fi feel, almost like a folk song performed in the subway station. After thirty seconds or so it then kicks in and becomes a fun rock tune. “I saw you on the subway/And I decided I would take it at six o’clock nearly every day now/Baby, when are we going to make it?” I love the humor of this.

CD Track List

  1. Month Of Sundays
  2. Murder On Delancey
  3. Standoff Love
  4. Worse For Wear
  5. Connection
  6. Subway Song

Month Of Sundays is scheduled to be released on April 14, 2017 through True Rock.

To pre-order Month of Sundays on iTunes please visit: http://smarturl.it/markduda

To pre-order Month of Sundays on Bandcamp please visit: https://markduda.bandcamp.com/

For more information about Month of Sundays or upcoming tour dates, please visit Mark’s website and social media pages via www.markdudamusic.com

For Booking inquiries please email booking@markdudamusic.com

 

Michael Doherty’s Music Log Review: E-Life 7 “Miked Up”

16 Mar

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Every day presents more horrible news from Washington, D.C. It’s impossible to even keep track of everything that’s gone wrong. It’s too much, and it’s happened too quickly. It often feels like we’re going to be crushed by the weight of it, and most of us feel that constant tension in our gut. Maybe the trick is to just dance and glide through the apocalypse, hope for the best, and come out the other side smiling, if exhausted, ready to survey the damage. I don’t know if it’s the best course of action. But the debut CD from E-Life 7, Miked Up, ought to help in that endeavor should you choose that path. This disc provides some delicious funky tunes, mixing in jazz and modern R&B elements. These are mostly instrumentals, and mostly original material. The band is made up of Michael Pennick on bass, Rodney Spears on keys, Charlie Crymes Jr. on keys, Ronald Walker on guitar and Tim Webb on drums. Joining them on certain tracks are Ken Whitman on saxophone, Walter Kemp III on keys, Van Taylor on keys, Joey Diggs on vocals and Dee Osbourne on vocals. By the way, E-Life 7 means to enjoy life seven days a week (and is not some strange online electronic life, as I’d first surmised).

This disc kicks off with a funky bit of fun titled “Sunday Night.” Perfect for tonight. And I immediately dig that bass. Be prepared to dance, because this instrumental number definitely has some 1980s vibes worked into its structure. It was written by Ronald Walker. There is a brief bass solo halfway through. And then the second track, “Chaos,” also written by Ronald Walker, opens with some fantastic work on bass. This one has a much more interesting, unusual groove, which I love. It’s a very cool and driven jam, and is one of my personal favorites. I just wish it were longer. It’s over too soon. But no worries, as the next track, “Second Level,” also begins with the bass. There is a funky element to this one, though also with a pop dance feel. This one was written by Michael Pennick.

“Smooth Ride” is a slightly mellower number, but still with some damn good work on bass. This one features Ken Whitman on saxophone, and his horn works to raise us up. (Ken Whitman also joins the group on saxophone for “Sunrise.”) “Smooth Ride” is followed by “Inner Beauty,” which also features some mellower exploration, in the modern R&B realm, with just little touches of prog rock. But again, there is more delicious work on bass, and this track features Walter Kemp III on keys. Van Taylor joins the band for a good instrumental rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “That Girl,” the album’s only cover.

“Tony Rome” was written by Ron Walker and Michael Pennick, and features some excellent playing by Michael Pennick and some interesting changes. It gets kind of wild just as it’s ending. This CD also includes a second, somewhat shorter “radio edit” version of this one.  “Feelin You” features vocals by Dee Osbourne and Joey Diggs. “I’ve been watching you, baby/You’ve been turning me on/Don’t you know that I am feelin’ you.” Ah yes, somewhat romantic, somewhat creepy. Leaving this song on a stranger’s answering machine, for example, might not be received with the type of excitement you’d want to generate. “Feelin You” was written by Ron Walker and Michael Pennick. There is a second, shorter version of this song as well. “I want you in my life/I don’t want to be lonely tonight.”

“Before The Storm” is a cool, kind of mellow and passionate journey with a positive vibe, which I appreciate. This is another of my favorites, and has some really good work on keys as well as bass. “Before The Storm” was written by Tim Webb and Michael Pennick. That’s followed by another cool number, “Miked Up,” the CD’s title track, which was written by Ron Walker and Michael Pennick. It’s time to get funky, baby. Just focus on the beat and ignore the news for a bit, things might be okay. This track does have vocals by Joey Diggs and Dee Osbourne, but sort of in the background. “Let’s get miked up.” This one is a really good jam, and is for me another of the CD’s highlights.

CD Track List

  1. Sunday Night
  2. Chaos
  3. Second Level
  4. Smooth Ride
  5. Inner Beauty
  6. That Girl
  7. Tony Rome
  8. Sunrise
  9. Feelin You
  10. Before The Storm
  11. Miked Up
  12. Beautiful Day
  13. Tony Rome (radio edit)
  14. Feelin You (radio edit)

Miked Up is scheduled to be released on March 24, 2017 through Three 2 Go Music.

For more information about E-Life 7 please visit:  www.e-life7.net

For Booking information please email info@Three2GoMusic.com

For Press inquiries contact Billy James at Glass Onyon PR: (828) 350-8158 or glassonyonpr@gmail.com

For Digital Marketing contact Jerome Forney at Independent Distribution Collective: jerome@independentdistro.com

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