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Best Albums Through November 30th, 2014

"Hollywood High" In At # 6

“Hollywood High” In At # 6

1. Big Apple Blues – Tomas Docker Band – Yusef Komunyakaa and Tomas Doncker concern themselves with what people do and don’t do for each other, with a sidetrip to Alabama and a layover in Fun City.

2. 1989 – Taylor Swift – A tragedy pretending to be a comedy about the inability to find true love for a 24 year old and the music that goes along with it. Peaks sky high and made her a bigger star than ever.

3. Popular Problems – Leonard Cohen – He is melodic the way a bassoon is melodic, or maybe the way the memory of a teenage love is melodic, the contours remain there even if the details are lost forever and the two first songs are among the best he has ever written and everything else is damn near perfect as well.

4. Most Messed Up – Old 97s – The honest roar of rock and roll as the boys channel the Replacements and Waylon, Williams, outlaw rock and booze fueled power pop one more time and longer than you’ve been alive.

5. LP 1 – FKA twigs – Tahliah Debrett Barnett aka Formerly Known As twigs, is the most exciting thing to happen to UK soundscape soul pop since Lana del Rey and like Lana she doesn’t sound like anything else: a deeply arranged indie soul hybrid. Imagine if Massive Attack had been so big 1D and a girl in Gloucestershire, England, became completely obsessed with them…something like that

6. Hollywood High – Mike Hudson And The Pagans – Cleveland rocks, even in LA, even 30 years after the fact, nothing is lost and nothing is left behind on this terrific punk, yeah, but just for a name because this label less hard rock.

7. Single Mothers – Justin Townes Earle – Perfection is not nothing, it is something, something great: 30 minute of perfect country heartbreakers. It matters.

8. In The Lonely Hour – Sam Smith – An In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning for a different century with one of the sweetest and most wrenching singing you’ll ever hear and the songs to match.

9  Seeds- TV On The Radio – An astounding modern soul album that resurrects Brooklyn just to put a guitar through its heart. The album starts fast, keeps on moving, and bangs its way to the end with one piece of seduction after another.They were great when I saw them live earlier this year, much better than their Radio City gig, and this is why.

10. The Take Off And Landing Of Everything – Elbow – A sort of uncool, unelectronic, art band on their sixth album and first post-major breakthrough and they manage to top just about anything they’ve even done with the possible exception of “My Sad Captains” which tops it with room to spare.

11. Better Than Expected – Peter Stampfel And The Brooklyn And Lower Manhattan Banjo Squadron – Loose, friendly, up against the wall, melodic, they don’t make em like this any more.

12. Adventures In Bluesland – Phil Gammage – A New Wave stalwart continues his career trajectory through Americana to an East Coasts rock and blues sound uniquely his own. Add to that one of the best rock and roll singing voices you’ll hear and a mean harp, Gammage’s album stands as an organic response to synthetic emotions.

13. Caroline Kole – Caroline Kole – Finally, a 17 year old country gal taps into the Taylor Swift DNA.

14. Noise Vs Beauty – Bassnectar – The House album of the year lives up to its name as one of the best DJs Lorin Ashton, the Santa Cruz party album who added metal to a taste for bass. This is a step forward, a hard pressed masterpiece of beats and sound effects.

15. Too Bright – Perfume Genius – The riff that moves “Queen” is so great it instananeously changed Perfume Genius from another pop guy with a back story to a major songwriter. The rest of the album is pretty excellent as well.

16. Me. I Am Mariah… The elusive Chanteuse – Mariah Carey – Something of a disaster for Carey, this sprawling mess of an album keeps throwing up unexpected gems for over an hourand over and over again.

17. Everybody Down – Kate Tempest – Spoken word giant turns to rap and discover politics is pop and everywhere is monsters

18. Half Life – Marla Mase – Art rock spoken word child of Patti but grown up well.

19. Girlpool – Girlpool -I’ll take these cats over haim, or the black Keys, for that matter, any day. A Shaggs who aren’t Shaggs, a twisty topsy turvy lo hi fi band.

20. Elevation (The Upper Air) – Bernie Worrell – Jazz classics rearranged for solo piano that are so great it reminds you this man was a child protegee once upon a time. Bill Laswell produced.

21. They Want My Soul – Spoon – No, I’m not a fan, but this is a terrific album of classic rock circa 2014, A ver very strong soulful piece of work.

22. 50 Catherine Street – Robin Gibb – Grandiloquent pop triumph farewell

23. Dirty Gold – Angel Haze – If you can get past the life lines, this is a brilliant rap album hiding out as a mainstream hip hop album

24. The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part I Soundtrack – Various Artists – Oh Lorde gets her hip hop cred updated and everybody is the better for it. So much better than that godawful movie.

25. RTJ2 – Run The Jewels – North meets South, and South wins but not by as much as you might believe.

26. Morning Phase – Beck – It feels like it may or may not be a masterpiece but if it is a not, it has enough strong songs to lift itself to one of his better efforts.

27. Hendra – Ben Watt – Moody ballads by the guy from “Everything But The Girl” putting down his DJ mantle but keeping the hardware.

28. Tribute – John Newman – Rudimental soul man already owns the UK and should do the exact same here on this disco beats album.

29. True: Avicii By Avicii – The remixes beat the originals and how

30. The Future’s Void – EMA – New face of singer songwriter, all beat and smack.

31. Days And Nights – Daley – Northern soul is alive and well and this guy is singing it

32. Croz – David Crosby – He almost cut his hair, ergo jazz inflected folk-rock where the melodies take forever to sink in but the voice is always there.

33. Here And Nowhere Else – Cloud Nothings – Hard wall of sound melodic punk rock

34. Shatter Me – Lindsey Stirling – Classically trained musician gets her dance on.

35. The Haden Triplets – The Haden Triplets – Three voices, one modern folk album echoing all the way back to the Carter Family.

36. Love, Marriage And Divorce – Toni Braxton And Babyface – 80s r&b greats deal with the D word.

37. This Is What I Do – Boy George – Perhaps not king of everything but he seems to have survived his 30s and 40s and returned in pretty good shape for his 50s.

38. Riser – Dierks Bentley – Strong new country boy album, Not as clever lyrically as Blake Shelton, but the songs are better.

39. Honest – Future – Husky harsh unique voice and then he autotunes it.

40. St. Vincent – St. Vincent – Just because it is her most accessible album doesn’t make it her best, but it doesn’t hurt.

41. Pinata – Freddie Gibbs And Madlibs – Two great rappers without a great subject matter.

42. Oxymoron – Schoolboy Q – This years Kendrick Lamar except not quite as mainstream.

43. Rise Of An Empire – Young Money – Weezy’s kids.

44. The Crystal Method – The Crystal Method – Mainstream modern house, meaning LeAnn Rimes sings one song (not track) and Dia Frampton another.

45. Ledgers – Noah Gundersen – Superior sing songwriter and his family releases career defining album.

46. Drowners – Drowners – A modern day the Strokes without the rich kids ‘tude.

47. Long Time… Seldom Scene – The Seldom Scene – Superb bluegrass

48. Choir Of Echoes – Peggy Sue – Indie pop, really lovely in places

49. Small Time Heroes – Hurray For The Riff Raff – Modern Americana resurrects the washboard

50. Blank Slate – Neneh Cherry – Recorded over five days, this has the immediacy of a profound thought

51. Held In Splendor – Quilt – An acoustic white blues with hints of folk psychedelia round the edges.

52. Oblation – Floor – A wall of guitars and melodies that edge through, they call it sludge rock from the early 00s.

53. Eject – Cazzette – As close to straight up house as pop music gets.

54. Rave Tapes – Mogwai – Scottish instrumental go electronic but sound about the same.

55. Rivers To Cross – NEEDTOBREATHE – Not the breakthrough I thought it would but still strong Southern rock

56. Live 1965 – The Rolling Stones – The girls in the audience scream so loud they sound like another instrument.

57. Cheatahs – Cheatahs – Buzz band deliver fuzzed out indie rock

58. All Love’s Legal – Planningtorock – Experimental rock album takes on misogynists and other haters.

59. The Light And The Color – Teens – Indie pop soul.

60. Dizzy Heights – Neil Finn- Some great songs, shame about the production

61. Music Speaks – Candice Glover – American Idol releases a soulful debut

62. Abracaci – Caetano Veloso – Brazilian indie pop

63. Wasted Years – Off! – 17 songs, 24 minutes, all kinda rock.

64. Live At The Hideout – Screaming Females – Steve Albini recorded this excellent live sampler.

65. Diploid Love – Brody Dalle – Don’t miss with this electronic rocker, she is like a baby with her cub.

66. Phantom And The Ghost – Styles P- The gangster and gentleman has the mood and has the flow for the same old stories.

67. Put Your Needle Down – The Secret Sisters – T Bone Burnett discovered Americana

68. Lift Your Spirit – Aloe Blacc – Good spirited soul guy and his name ain’t Pharrell.

69. My Crazy Life – YG – A Young Moneyer goes forth

70. We Got A Love – Shit Robot – Disco DJ from DFA, second cut isn’t as deep but still better than most

71. The New Classic – Iggy Azalea – Aussie chick rapper is a lot of fun.

72. Rise Of The Phoenix – The Floacist – Pretty food sing speak poetic stuff

73. Tomorrow’s Hits – The Men – Classic rocker surprise

74. Guilty Of Everything – Nothing – Fuzz rock

75. Say Yes To Love – Perfect Pussy – Very loud punk rock

76. Beg, Borrow, Steal – Ohio Express – Bubblegum superheroes clean up their garage gum roots with this extended rerelease of their first album from 1967.

77. Z – SZA – New r&b gets it right for once; temperate but crazed, sexual mood music by SZA,with the obligato rap added by the likes of Chance The Rapper who exactly captures the mood of hazed out sex; pure seduction and she doesn’t even know if she wants you.

78. Le Beat Group Electrique – Wreckless Eric – Lo fi back in his bed sit with his cassette player, recording superb song after superb song which no one will hear. Except me and you.

79. Initiation – Haunted Hearts – Dreamy soundscapes with hooks and chops to spare.

80. Our Year – Kelly Willis And Bruce Robison – Not as great as last years model but sure is good enough

81. Definitely Maybe Deluxe Edition – Oasis – One of the greatest albums of all time thrives in the ‘luxe version.

82. Disgraceland – The Orwells – Really, truly classic rockers in the tradition of, I dunno, the Ramones.

83. In Conflict – Owen Pallet – Sounds like the sorta stuff Animal Collective were thinking of meets James Blake.

84. Do It Again – Royksopp and Robyn – Where art meets commerce.

85. Are We There Yet – Sharon Van Etten – Moody blues singer songwriter intensity.

86. Beautiful – V/A – For Jessie Mueller’s incredible vocals and the acoustic version of “Walking In The Rain”

87. The Beauty Of Destruction – Devil You Know – You know the hardcore form and so do they.

88. Blue Smoke – Dolly Parton – Enough good stuff to rescue it from the duets.

89. DCONSTRUCTED – V/A – EDM has never been more kid friendly

90. Oblation – Floor – Heavy duty metal riffs like a sinking sledgehammer.

91. Al My Friends – The Songs Of Greg Allman – Live and recorded, hang around for Vince Gill

92. The Garden Spot Programs 1950 – Hank Williams – Recently discovered and very fine indeed, his usual band is missing but it stills sounds absolutely brilliant.

93. The New Classic – Iggy Azalea – Australian, white rapper crosses over pop but there aren’t any other songs as great as “Fancy”. There are quite a few NEARLY as good.

94. Sheezus – Lily Allen – She hasn’t lost much off her fast ball, it still zips by your ear like a missile.

95. About Last Night – Sleeper Agent – Has the gift of all great pop rock albums: consistency

96. To Be Kind – Swans – One song lasts 30 minutes and that’s the price of heavy duty drone art.

97. Burn Your Witness For No Fire – Angel Olsen – With her sophomore album, Angel redefines her singer songwriter loner folk Billy “Prince” Billy approved experimental classic songs for electronic full band and it works on nearly every track. High five.

98. White Women – Chromeo – Great disco album.

99. Sea When Absent – A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Experimental soundscapes drenched in melody

100. Goin’ Home – Kenny Wayne Shepherd – Superb blues album, my problem with his voice remains but this rocks all over any real caveats.

101. Numbskull – Wesley Wolfe – Art pop masterpiece about dealing with lowered expectations and doing it yourself and really not compromising too much on the road to eternity.Maybe a coming of age or maybe a dealing with it.

102. Hendra – Ben Watts – Mood music from a former electronics guy

103. Beauty And Ruin – Bob Mould – In which Mould feels his age and remembers his father

104. Built On Glass – Chet Faker – Massive Attacking dub drums and electronic soul machinery plus good baritone singer.

105. Neon Steeple – Crowder – Not for the first time, David Crowder gives us the best CCM album of the year.

106. Common Ground – Dave Alvin And Phil Alvin – Former Blasters blast through Big Bill Broonzy

107. Mutineers – David Gray – Singer songwriter’s singer songwriter shows off his skills.

108. Some Day World – Eno + Hyde – A missed opportunity, until they decide to jam at the end of tracks.

109. Glass Boys – Fucked Up – The slow versions are the killers

110. Travelling Local – Futuristic – Art rap

111. Hank – Hank Marvin – The Shadows Fender enthusiast guitarist sounds as good as he did over 50 years ago on this covers album.

112. Initiation – Haunted Hearts – Dum Dum Girl and Crocodile marry and give birth to an album better than its parts

113. Lazaretto – Jack white – Awful fussy for a blues album, but not awful.

114. Our Year – Kelly Willis And Bruce Robison – Second album in as many years isn’t quite as consistent but still mighty pretty.

115. Talk Dirty – Jason Derulo – One sex pop track after another, Jason gets himself sexually harassed by the music biz and likes it.

116. Goin’ Back Home – Wilko Johnson And Roger Daltrey – Pub Rocks last call.

117. Once More ‘Round The Sun – Mastodon – This is the album Metallica can’t do any more.

118. Between The Bars – The Civil War – Four covers, each one better than the other and “Sour Times” best of all

119. Sunbathing Animals – Parquet Court – Indie rocker of the year

120. Do It Again – Roykscopp And Robyn – Experimental meets dance pop

121. Oh, Common Man – Fireworks – Emo rockers or pop punk but get the pop part right and that’s the hardest part.

122. Live At The Jazz Cafe, London – D’Angelo – Recorded in ’95. Of course time doesn’t seem to mean the same thing to D as it does to us. One wish? He had give more than 90 seconds to the Ohio Players cover.

123. Band Of Brothers – Willie Nelson – Good country doze

124. A Town called Paradise – A page from calvin Harris’s book, but Tiesto knows how to use it.

125. Deep Fantasy – White Lung – Hard rocking triumph

126. Fuego – Phish – This is where the jam band writes the songs needed to mention their name in the same breath as the Grateful Dead. Almost ridiculously self-controlled, these fine classic rock meets jazz make it their best album not recorded live so far.

127. The Breeze (An appreciation Of JJ cale – Eric Clapton And Friends – Puts cale out of the one hit wonder bin and into the blues greats pantheon.

128. Strange Desire – Bleachers – Like fun. without the broadway showtunes jones.

129. Dread And trouble – Chronixx – Wrote his first song at the age of five.

130. New Eyes – Clean Bandit – Beats meet strings

131. The Voyager – Jenny Lewis – Her best work since 2007.

132. Le Beat Group Electrique – Wreckless Eric – Stupendous pure WW album

133. 5 Seconds Of Summer – 5 Seconds Of Summer – About as good as boy bands gets in 2014, better than the last 1D album.

134. These Days – Ab Soul – Former Black Hippy grabs his moment

135. Jungle – Jungle – Modern day disco duo

136. World Peace is None Of Your Business – Morrissey – Minor but not negligent

137. Live At The Jazz Cafe, London – D’Angelo – Recorded in ’95. Of course time doesn’t seem to mean the same thing to D as it does to us. One wish? He had give more than 90 seconds to the Ohio Players cover.

138. White Devil Armory – Overkill – In the market for metal with song names like “King Of The Rat Bastards”? Come a little closer.

139. Sprint Sessions At webster hall – Pharrell Williams – Four songs, all killer, no filler.

140. Fuego – Phish – If not their best album, at worst their second best album.

141. For Those Who Stay – PS I Love You – Experimental indie pop

142. Pe’ahi – The Raveonettes – 50s rockabilly mixed with indie wall of guitar fuzz

143. Shutup&Jam – ted Nugent – I’d love to hate on it… maybe next album.

144. Mandatory Fun – Weird Al Yankovic – All hail to our Weird Al lord.

145. Salad Days – Mac Demarco – Canadian weirdo singer songwriter

146. Platinum – Miranda Lambert – Superb collection of modern country songs

147. My Everything – Ariana Grande – the Best pop album money can buy

148. Lose – Cymbals Eats Guitars – Indie rockers return with their best album, a collection of roughshod power pop meets rock moods, to date.

149. Promise To Love – Kem – Low key but powerful smooth soul music.

150. My Old Friend – Celebrating George Duke – Al Jarreau – The wonderful soul and jazz singer pays his respects.

151. Yell Boss – Black wine – Don Giovani stalwarts unfaltering knock out rockers

152. 1st Of The Month, Vol 2 – Cam’ron – The pop stuff is betetr but this is consistent and strong.

153. Tzenni – Noura Mint Seymali – Mauritania goes electric.

154. Palo Alto – Devonte Hynes – Superb album soundtrack by Mr. Blood Orange.

154. Directors Of Photography – Fabulous underground psychedelic rap album.

155. Ultraviolence – Lana Del Rey – Lana kicked that it wasn’t as hip hop influenced as the debut, I would claim it is just as good and maybe a little better.

156. 60/50 Ocean Way: The Live Room Sessions – Ridiculously good band and especially since they are CCM.

157. Blue Dream – Orenda Fink – More songs about dead dogs and dreams of the afterlife.

158. Owl John – Owl John – Frightened Rabbit singer goes solo with superb results.

159. worlds – Porter Robinson – EDM meets singer songwriter.

160. Influences Vol 2 The Man I Am – Vol 2 – Randy Travis – This guy can sing

161. Don’t Wait Up (For George) – Shooter Jennings – Like no show Jones

162. I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss – Sinead O’Connor – She reminds me of Van Morrisson in the 1990s, good, strong, but not great.

163. Frozen Letter – Spider Bags – Their worst album to date and still pretty great.

164. Off The Grid – Doin’ It Dylan – Charlie Daniels – Hard country rocker covers.

165. Hypnotic Eye – Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – Not as great as everybody claims, but not bad at all

166. The Dark Horse – Twista – He doesn’t have flow, he has fly. But it is in the aid of the same old cliches.

167. I’m Okay .- The Shoe – Semi-improved pop, the title track will break your heart and then so will the rest of the songs.

168. The Breeze – An Appreciation Of JJ Cale – Eric Clapton – So much better than his last album it isn’t even funny and if Eric should choose to retire with this, well he could do a lot worse

169. This Is All Yours – alt J – Radiohead for sexy public boys

170. Syro – Aphex Twin – Still, the sound of modern electronica, the bleeps are beat back and emerge as hooks and they really don’t sound like any one else.

171. X – Chris Brown – A steady as she comes selection of modern pop songs that make their point, most often on the dancefloor, then leave you to it.

172. Soon Away – GRMLN – Really catchy indie pop from San Francisco, even for a genre defined by its catchiness.

173. Tribal – Imelda May – 50s inspired rock, blues and rockabilly.

174. Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes – Thom Yorke – Dystopian mood music

175. Tyranny – Julian Casablancas And The Voidz – Walls of melody rend asunder and deconstructed.

176. GIRLS – Pharrell WIlliams – A theme album about getting laid and liking the women who are laying you.

177. The Way I’m Livin’ – Lee Ann Womack – Delicate but tough country, just you wait till you get to the Neil Young cover

178. Transgender Dysphoria Blues – Against Me! – As career moves go, changing genders is a little extreme but it worked for Laura Jane Grace who changed the good but obvious Florida punk band into this towering monument to freedom and sex/ Plus, the songs rocked.

179. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams – The for dummys version reads “Ryan goes classic rock” but hey, close enough.

180. The Reggae Power – Sly And Robbie, Spicy hocolate – Mainstream reggae but two towering producers

181. Funky World – True Groove All Stars – Bill Laswell steals it.

182. Somewhere Else – Lydia Loveless – As writerly and complete a rock album dissolving love into a series as temper tantrums as Get Happy!! or Exile On Guysville.

183. Overjoyed – Half Japanese – Perfect punk love album.

184. The Avenues – Lera Lynn – We will sing we will dance we can bank on the chance…

185. ices – Lia Ices – Gorgeous mood music singer songwriter stuff

186. We Loved her Dearly – Lowell – Highly original electronic modern pop stuff

187. Haven’t Got The Blues – Loudon wainwright III – growing old gracelessly

188. V – Maroon 5 – One hit after another is my guess

189. Ritual In Repeat – Tennis – Excellent indie pop from this married duo

190. We Come from The same Place – Allo Darlin’ – Twee but personably melodic pop

191. American Middle class – Angaleena Presley – Well, somebody has to sing for us. This is deep country soul music

192. Nostalgia – Annie Lennox – Gorgeous and soulful takes on classic tracks.

193. Gypsy Heart Side A – Colbie Caillat – The joys of the EP is you can put five pop songs together and they will all be great.

194. One More EP – Elliphant – Very catchy pop music

195 – You’re Dead – Flying Lotus – Big time DJ relatively poppy mode

196. Blood Moon: Year of the Wolf – The Game – Hardcore gangsta by a top performer

197. Design – Grace Mitchell – Teenage straight up singer songwriter

199. Hozier – Hozier – Soulful singer songwriter with at least one hit to his name.

200. Carter Girl – Carlene Carter – Roots? Americana? The woman has it all.

201 – Sweet Talker – Jessie J – She has the voice and she has the songs here for big time pop success

202. Playland – Johnny Marr – More of the same when the same is a classic sounding guitar brrrgh

203. 77 – Nude Beach – Superb power popper rock album with a relentless sense as melody and finely crafted songs.

204. Nirvana EP – Sam Smith – In the UK EDM Soul wars, singing with Taylor Smith at 02 and this EP puts Smith at the top.

205. Moanin’ At Midnight – Tomas Doncker Band – Rewrites the story of Howlin’ Wolf for the 21st century by a man who defies pigeonholes, especially blues pigeonholes, but finds himself a blues star despite himself.

206. Soused – Scott Walker and Sunn ))) – Bizarerely operatic drone and pounder

207. Little Red – Katy B – EDM storyteller of life after the lights go on at the danceclub

208. Post Tropical – James Vincent McMurrow – Like Bon Iver on Xanax

209. Quack – Duck Sauce – Electronic hi jinks by EDM stalwarts.

210. Broke With Expensive tatses – Azelia Banks – She had a lot to prove with this debut album album and oddly enough proved them all with a very strong rap and pop and dance and… merengue? set of songs.

211. It’s The Girls – Bette Midler – What took her so long? Midler deals out girl groups.

212. Cadillactica – Big KRIT – takes the Southern crown with one fell swoop

213. Aliens In The Outfield EP – Diarrhea Planet – Don’t let the band name bug ya, glorious power pop

214 – Manipulator – Ty Segall – A West Coast classic rocker who thinks he’s an indie rocker

215. Poor People Are Revolting – The Gotobeds – The honest roar of pop punk

216. The Complete Basement tapes – Bob Dylan And The Band – Dylan before the flood.

217. 12 Stories – Brandy Clark – She’s not Kacey Musgraves but she is awful good, “the pray to jesus and play the Lotto” line should get a ton of traction.

218. Motion – Calvin Harris – MOR but better than that sounds.

219 Nothing Has Changed – David Bowie – Makes the Bowie was a great artist case with conviction

220. Bestiary – Hail Mary Marron – Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic trade off

221. Rock & Roll Time – Jerry Lee Lewis – went back to Sun and recorded a killer

222. While I Stay Secluded – Knuckle Puck – The voice of north eastern pop punk.

223. Manu Koch – Mandatory Underground – Jazz fusion goes deep

224. The Legal Matters – The Legal Matters – First rate power pop and more: more arranged, a little older and smarter than you’d expect.

225. Four – One Direction – Their best album to date is a boy band jukebox of hits

226. Vibes – Theophilus London – Kanye West produced this moody exploration of new r&b

227. Fair warning – The Rails – Fairport Convention updated -which makes sense of course.

228. Chubbed Up + – Sleaford Mods – Fook off

229. Sly Stone’s Flower 1969 – 1970 – Sly’s record label filled with good stuff

230.  XTRMST -XTRMST – Extreme metalcore

 

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