Listening Ahead: Upcoming Music Releases for September

Matthew Fiander and Arnold Pan
Hi-Fi headphones and colorful disc. Image from Shutterstock.

While every September offers its fair share of long-awaited releases, this month boasts an even greater embarrassment of riches than normal.

The record release schedule has come back from summer vacation with a vengeance: While every September offers its fair share of long-awaited releases, this month boasts an even greater embarrassment of riches than normal, from a new album by Bob Dylan to the oft-delayed compilation from Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label to much anticipated returns by some of indie’s leading lights, like Animal Collective, Cat Power, and Grizzly Bear. Then there are the comeback efforts by a few of alt-rock’s biggest acts, including new work from Green Day, the Killers, and No Doubt. And that’s just scratching the surface of a month that also features albums by the underground’s foundational figures (Dinosaur Jr., Bob Mould), indie’s brightest up-and-comers (the xx), and intriguing cross-generational collabs (David Byrne and St. Vincent, Yoko Ono-Kim Gordon-Thurston Moore). What did we leave out?

Artist: Animal Collective

Album: Centipede Hz

Label: Domino


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US Release Date: 2012-09-04

UK Release Date: 2012-09-03

Animal Collective
Centipede Hz

Few bands can launch an all-out attack on the senses the way Animal Collective does, but it’s often the subliminal dimension to the group’s work that gets you hooked. While Animal Collective’s Technicolor, carnivalesque aesthetic draws your attention, it’s the earworming embellishments and sneaky rhythmic elements girding the mix that really holds on to it. Maybe some had expected that AC would build upon and streamline the more listener-friendly aspects of 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, but going in that direction would’ve been more surprising than the long and winding path the outfit explores on Centipede Hz. Even as it offers the visceral gut-punch that comes with any Animal Collective offering, Centipede Hz becomes more rewarding and engaging the more patience you give it. Taking a little time before settling in, the album backloads many of its most compelling tracks in the second half, especially the glitchy groovy “Monkey Riches” and the spaced-out beach-pop of “Pulleys”. And once those pieces really burrow into your subconscious, you’re ready to double back to the beginning to figure out how Centipede Hz got in your head. More so than almost any other act, Animal Collective not only promises more with repeated listens, but actually makes good on that possibility. Arnold Pan

Animal Collective - “Today’s Supernatural”

Artist: Brother Ali

Album: Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color

Label: Rhymesayers


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US Release Date: 2012-09-18

UK Release Date: 2012-09-17

Brother Ali
Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color

Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color is the album Brother Ali was supposed to make. After three great records -- including his last, Us -- his latest is a masterstroke. Aided by producer Jake One, Ali has produced a soulful and far-reaching record, one that moves deftly from worry to crisis to something close to catharsis in a cool 50 minutes. He goes from his bipartisan call to action on "Letter to My Fellow Countrymen" to addressing all the ills we face, hitting hard on his own personal woes over the last year (on the excellent "Only Life I Know") before delving into poverty ("I don't need an economist to know I need a pot to piss") on "Work Everyday", violence on the title track, and the connection between the two on "Need a Knot". The album eventually works its way to brighter days, and what's remarkable -- aside from Ali's effortless flow and brilliant storytelling -- is how Jake One moves the narrative through shifts in tone. We get the soul-charged, organic feel of the first few songs that morphs into colder, more industrial, edgy beats in the albums middle, and spacious, sweeter beats to round out the record. Even if Ali wasn't driving the emotion home on every song, you'd feel the ups and downs through these beats. There are plenty of great one-rapper-one-producer records -- see Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music earlier this year -- and Brother Ali's new album is right at the top of that list. It's an album sure to resonate for a long white to come. Matthew Fiander

Brother Ali - “Mourning in America”

Artist: Cat Power

Album: Sun

Label: Matador


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US Release Date: 2012-09-04

UK Release Date: 2012-09-03

Cat Power

It’s a gross understatement to describe Chan Marshall’s career as Cat Power has been unpredictable. Anyone who saw her barely able to get through a song -- much less a set -- in the ‘90s still marvels that she would become Karl Lagerfeld’s muse and a peripheral Hollywood celeb with her own Malibu studio. And more than a decade-and-a-half down the line, Marshall still has more sides to herself to reveal, which is exactly what she does on Sun. Out of the shadows after (seemingly) overcoming her own demons, the bold, wide-open Sun proves that Marshall can be personal without being so painfully confessional, conveying here a deeper understanding of herself by showing that she gets the big picture. On the traveloguing scat of “Ruin” and the sympathetic “Human Being”, Marshall comes off like a less confrontational M.I.A., putting her struggles in perspectives by reflecting on those who’ve had to deal with more. Maybe she’s dug deeper into herself before, but these flashes of a social consciousness on Sun shed insight into Marshall’s soul in a way that feels more real than her self-conscious material does. Arnold Pan

Cat Power - “Ruin”

Artist: Dinosaur Jr.

Album: I Bet on Sky

Label: Jagjaguwar


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US Release Date: 2012-09-18

UK Release Date: 2012-09-17

Dinosaur Jr.
I Bet on Sky

I Bet on Sky continues the impressive run of albums for the reformed original line-up of Dinosaur Jr. It's also, though, a curious shift from the blistering songs on Beyond and the more expansive rock landscapes of Farm. The new record is, unsurprisingly, a guitar record, but it doesn't have the same amperage as its predecessors. Instead, it's an album that's both more funky (check that guitar on "Don't Pretend You Didn't Know" and the syncopated palm-muting on "Almost Fare") and also far more moody than those other records. J Mascis's nasal bleat is down to a confessional near-hush, and the band turns down in step with him. There's still plenty of guitar solos and rock heft -- Lou Barlow's "Rude" buoys the middle of the record, while Mascis lights it up with "I Know It Oh So Well" -- but there's more nuance and subtlety here than ear-ringing volume. It's a shift that suits the band, putting their chemistry and pop sensibility on display without giving up too much muscle. I Bet On Sky sure isn't the loudest Dinosaur Jr. record, but that doesn’t mean it can't make a hell of a noise. Matthew Fiander

Dinosaur Jr. - “Watch the Corners”

Artist: Jens Lekman

Album: I Know What Love Isn’t

Label: Secretly Canadian


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US Release Date: 2012-09-04

UK Release Date: 2012-09-03

Jens Lekman
I Know What Love Isn’t

Like an ESL Stuart Murdoch writing less misanthropic Stephin Merritt ditties, Jens Lekman has steadily amassed his own library of love songs, which he continues to expand with the pared-down, soft-rockin’ I Know What Love Isn’t. Though Lekman’s a hopeless romantic, it’s telling that his latest tries to define what love is -- and isn’t -- by process of elimination, considering that the new album was made in the wake of a break-up. Certainly, the images and scenarios are uniquely Lekman’s, whether he’s evoking the smell of popcorn and perfume on “Erica America” or lost in daydreams about marrying for citizenship and friendship on the title track. And yet, Lekman is regularly able to find a universal language despite using his own idiosyncratic vernacular, hitting just the right cadences of yearning that speak to anyone who’s been lovelorn and crushed out. With wise lines like “You don’t get over a broken heart / You just learn to live with it gracefully,” Lekman relates an oft-told tale in a way that doesn’t get old, at least the way he tells it. Arnold Pan

Jens Lekman - “I Know What Love Isn’t”

Artist: The Sea and Cake

Album: Runner

Label: Thrill Jockey


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US Release Date: 2012-09-18

UK Release Date: 2012-09-17

The Sea and Cake

You're not likely to mistake the Sea and Cake with any other band. Their smooth, tight grooves, Sam Prekop's breathy vocals, their effortless knack for melody and texture -- there's no one else out there who can replicate it. And though they seem to put out the same kind of record every time, there are subtle differences between, say, the rounded edges of Everybody and the lean rock buzz of Car Alarm. But where they've shifted slowly, from album to album, in the past, Runner marks their most varied set maybe ever, and in all its experiments, it stands as yet another success for the band. We get acoustic guitars here -- unusual for the band -- to create a new kind of jangle on "A Mere" or to mix in some finger-picked pastoral folk on "Harbor Bridges", and we get shifts from charged-up power-pop to the synth-heavy sweetness of "Harps". It's an album that's propulsive without feeling rushed and experimental, without feeling out of control. Runner is a brilliant set, one that surely sounds like a Sea and Cake record, but unlike any Sea and Cake record that came before it. Matthew Fiander

The Sea and Cake - “Harps”

Artist: Various Artists

Album: FAC. DANCE 02

Label: Factory/Strut


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US Release Date: 2012-09-18

UK Release Date: 2012-09-17

Various Artists

If you were to play a quick game of word association with Factory Records, Joy Division and New Order would be the first things that come to mind. The label’s landmark Haçienda Club, ground zero for the Madchester scene of the late ‘80s, might be what you’d think of next. But for what’s not common knowledge and wasn’t immortalized in the film 24-Hour Party People, Strut’s compilation of Factory’s early dance records can help fill out part of the picture: Following on an earlier volume released last year, FAC. DANCE 02 might as well be a soundtrack to a vision of a romanticized time and place, detailing the label’s influence on high-concept dance music in the years to come. The exhaustive and diverse collection features Factory mainstays like post-punk standard-bearers A Certain Ratio and Durutti Column, along with gathering up one-off 12” offerings from the imprint, such as “You’re No Good” by proto-dancepunks ESG, the dubby agit-pop of X-O-Dus, and Fadela’s North African ethnopop. The two-disc set could be treasured as a time capsule for a bygone era, except that the recordings on it sound as vital and vibrant as any experimental pop you’re likely to experience in the here and now. Arnold Pan

Thick Pigeon - “Babcock + Wilcox”

Artist: Woods

Album: Bend Beyond

Label: Woodsist


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US Release Date: 2012-09-18

UK Release Date: 2012-09-17

Bend Beyond

Woods are about as consistent as bands get, and yet the group's sound never seems tired. Bend Beyond is another great entry in their catalog, and may be their most focused and consistent. Though it lacks the interesting extended jams of the band's last effort, Sun and Shade, this album is not without its charming experiments. The title track starts the album off with a swampy guitar back-and-forth, while "Cali in a Cup" thickens on humming organs and harmonicas. This sounds very much like Woods, but the fidelity is just a bit crisper and there's something a bit dustier about these songs. Their roots reach deeper in the rock canon the band has always dealt in. The songs here are every bit as strong as those on the high-water mark album, At Echo Lake, but the crisper production has opened up the band's sound into something equally sweet and just a tad more satisfying. This isn't the work of guys in a room with a tape machine building a sound like road grit and desert space and wind in your hair. On Bend Beyond, the radials hit the macadam: these songs churn forward on their confident and bittersweet way, and it's a hell of a ride. Matthew Fiander

Woods - “Size Meets the Sound”


Selected Releases for September 2012

(Release dates subject to change)

September 4

Albert Swarm, Wake EP (Ceremony)

Azure Ray, As Above So Below (Saddle Creek)

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Rattle Them Bones (Savoy Jazz)

Blu & Exile, Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them (Dirty Science/Fat Beats)

Karlie Bruce, Paperback Lover (Zoom)

California Wives, Art History (Vagrant)

Clark, Fantasm Planes EP (Warp)

Chick Corea and Gary Burton, Hot House (Concord Jazz)

Crypts, Crypts (Sargent House)

Cult of Youth, Love Will Prevail (Sacred Bones)

Deerhoof, Breakup Song (Polyvinyl)

Nick Edwards, Plekzationz (eMego)

Elbow, Dead in the Boot (Polydor UK)

Elska, Middle of Nowhere (Winter Bear)

Melissa Etheridge, 4th Street Feeling (Island)

The Fresh and Onlys, Long Slow Dance (Mexican Summer)

Gentleman Reg, Leisure Life, Part 2 EP (Heavy Head)

Philip Glass, composer, The Passion of Ramakrishna (Orange Mountain)

Henryk Gorecki, composer, Miserere (Decca)

Ian Hunter & the Rant Band, When I’m President (Slimstyle)

Imagine Dragons, Night Visions (Interscope)

Oreo Jones, Betty (Rad Summer)

Judas Priest, Screaming for Vengeance (Special 30th Anniversary Edition) (Legacy)

Lecrae, Gravity (Reach)

Sondre Lerche, Bootlegs (Mona)

LV, Sebenza (Hyperdub)

Matchbox Twenty, North (Atlantic)

Mono, For My Parents (Temporary Residence)

Bob Mould, Silver Age (Merge)

Mount Eerie, Ocean Roar (P.W. Elverum and Sun)

The Music Tapes, Mary’s Voice (Merge)

My Darling Clementine, How Do You Plead? (Five Head)

Bill Ortiz, Highest Wish (Left Angle)

Ross Orton & Pipes, Toddla T’s Watch Me Dance: Agitated (Ninja Tune)

Bernard Parmegiani, Loeil eCoute / Dedans-Dehors (Recollection GRM)

Propagandhi, Failed States (Epitaph)

Bryan Setzer, Rockabilly Riot: Live from the Planet (Surfdog)

The Sheepdogs, The Sheepdogs (Atlantic)

Smash Mouth, Magic (429)

Malka Spigel, Every Day Is Like the First Day (Swin)

Staff Benda Billi, Bouger le monde! (Crammed Discs)

Stars, The North (ATO)

Stealing Sheep, Into the Diamond Sun (Heavenly Recordings/Cooperative Music)

Dave Stewart, The Ringmaster General (Surfdog)

Tanita Tikaram, Can’t Go Back (earMUSIC/Eagle Rock)

Two Door Cinema Club, Beacon (Glassnote)

Two Gallants, The Bloom and the Blight (ATO)

The Vaccines, The Vaccines Come of Age (Columbia)

Various Artists, Traces One (Recollection GRM)

Videotape, This Is Disconnect (self-released)

September 11

Akon, Stadium (Universal Republic)

The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter (Universal)

Marco Benevento, Tigerface (Royal Potato Family)

Lewis Black, In God We Rust (Comedy Central)

Kix Brooks, New to This Town (Sony Nashville/Arista)

Buke & Gass, Function Falls EP (Brassland)

David Byrne and St. Vincent, Love This Giant (4AD/Todo Mundo)

Calexico, Algiers (ANTI-)

Castratii, Eora (Time No Place)

Steven A. Clark, Fornication Under Consent of the King (L&E Media)

Cloudscape, New Era (Nightmare/Sony/RED)

Bucky Covington, Good Guys (Entertainment One)

DMX, Undisputed (Fontana)

Daddy Yankee, Prestige (El Cartel)

Bob Dylan, Tempest (Columbia)

Michael Feinberg, The Elvin Jones Project (Sunnyside)

Mark Fell, Sentielle Objectif Actualité (eMego)

Field Report, Field Report (Partisan)

Firewater, International Orange! (Bloodshot)

Renée Fleming, The Art of Renée Fleming (Decca)

Steve Forbert, Over with You (Blue Corn)

Gallon Drunk, The Road Gets Darker from Here (Clouds Hill)

Jonny Greenwood, The Master Original Soundtrack (Nonesuch)

Neal Halstead, Palindrowm Hunches (Universal)

The Helio Sequence, Negotiations (Sub Pop)

Fred Hersch Trio, Alive at the Vanguard (Palmetto)

Patterson Hood, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance (ATO)

Kassel Jaeger, Deltas (eMego)

Mark Knopfler, Privateering (Universal)

Krar Collective, Ethiopia Super Krar (Riverboat/World Music Network)

Little Big Town, Tornado (Capitol Nashville)

Ludacris, Ludaversal (Def Jam)

Mala, Mala in Cuba (Brownswood)

Kathy Mattea, Calling Me Home (Sugar Hill)

Dave Matthews Band, Away from the World (RCA)

Miggs, 15th & Hope (Elm City)

Mystery Machine, Western Magnetics (Sonic Unyon)

NOFX, Self-Entitled (Fat Wreck Chords)

Onuinu, Mirror Gazer (Bladen County Records/Bad Cop Bad Cop)

Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra, Theater Is Evil (8ft.)

Pet Shop Boys, Elysium (Astralwerks)

Plastic Plates, Things I Didn’t Know I Loved EP (Kitsuné)

The Presets, Pacifica (Casablanca)

The Raveonettes, Observator (Vice)

Ray Jr., Welcome to Def Jam mixtape, (self-released)

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, The Magic Door (Silver Arrow)

Saigon, Bread and Circuses (Suburban Noize)

Seapony, Falling (Hardly Art)

Matthew Silberman, Questionable Creatures (DeSoto Sound Factory)

System of Survival, Needle and Thread (BPitch Control)

John Tejada, The Predicting Machine (Kompakt)

Thee Oh Sees, Putrifiers II (In the Red)

Therapy, A Brief Crack of Light (MVD)

Thought Broadcast, Emergency Stairway (eMego)

Threshold, March of Progress (Nuclear Blast)

Trespassers William, Cast (Saint Marie)

Winterfylleth, The Threnody of Triumph (Candlelight)

The xx, Coexist (Young Turks/XL)

Zed Bias Presents Yanna Valdevit, Equilibrium (Tru Thoughts)

ZZ Top, La Futura (Universal)

September 18

Bad Powers, Bad Powers (The End)

Band of Horses, Mirage Rock (Columbia)

Thavius Beck, The Most Beautiful Ugly (Plug Research)

Ben Folds Five, The Sound of the Life of the Mind (Sony)

Bi-Polar Bears, When Ledge Is Home (Modern Shark)

Ryan Bingham, Tomorrowland (Spunk)

Bird by Snow, Offering (Gnome Life)

Raymond Byron and the White Freighter, Little Death Shaker (Asthmatic Kitty)

Cars and Trains, We Are All Fire (Fake Four Inc.)

The Coal Porters, Find This One (Prima)

Easton Corbin, All Over the Road (Mercury)

Deadmau5, Album Title Goes Here (Ultra)

Down, EP 1 (Down)

Aaron Embry, Tiny Prayers (Community)

The English Beat, Live! At the U.S. Festival (Shout! Factory)

Fine Times, Fine Times (Light Organ)

Fur Coat, Mind Over Matter (Crosstown Rebels)

Grizzly Bear, Shields (Warp)

Keith Harkin, Keith Harkin (Verve)

Hauschka, Salon des Amateurs Remixes (FatCat)

How to Dress Well, Total Loss (Acephale)

James Iha, Look to the Sky (The End)

Indesinence, Vessels of Light and Decay (Profound Lore)

Catherine Irwin (Freakwater), Little Heater (Thrill Jockey)

Jackson 5, Come and Get It: Rare Pearls (Motown)

Carly Rae Jepsen, Kiss (Interscope)

Rickie Lee Jones, The Devil You Know (Concord Jazz)

The Killers, Battle Born (Island)

Klang, Brooklyn Lines...Chicago Spaces (Allos Documents)

Lymbyc System, Symbolyst (Western Vinyl)

Aimee Mann, Charmer (SuperEgo)

Meklit and Quinn, Meklit and Quinn (Porto Franco)

Menomena, Moms (Barsuk)

Michna, Moving Mountains EP (Ghostly International)

Myrah, My Deliverance (Inverse)

Robert Pollard, Jack Sells the Cow (Guided by Voices)

Rangda, Formerly Extinct (Drag City)

Sic Alps, Sic Alps (Drag City)

Paul Simon, Live in New York City (Hear Music)

The Souljazz Orchestra, Solidarity (Strut)

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Meat and Bone (Boombox/Mom+Pop)

Sweet Lights, Sweet Lights (Highline)

Title Fight, Floral Green (Side One Dummy)

Devin Townsend Project, Epicloud (Inside Out)

The Corin Tucker Band, Kill My Blues (Kill Rock Stars)

Ufomammut, Oro: Opus After (Neurot)

The Urban Renewal Project, Go Big or Go Home (Lombardy)

Kanye West, G.O.O.D. Music: Cruel Summer (Island/Def Jam)

Dwight Yoakam, 3 Pears (Warner Bros.)

Zulu Pearls, No Heroes No Honeymoons (Cantora)

Rudy Zygadlo, Tragicomedies (Planet Mu)

September 25

As I Lay Dying, Awakened (Metal Blade)

At Sea, A New Machine (CEN/RED)

The Bad Plus, Made Possible (eOne)

Rafiq Bhatia, Strata EP (Rest Assured)

Joe Bonamassa, Beacon Theatre: Live from New York (J&R Adventures)

Boy Omega, Night Vision (Tapete)

Bullet, Full Pull (Nuclear Blast)

The Chevin, Borderland (So Recordings)

Chris Cohen, Overgrown Path (Captured Tracks)

Jason Collett, Reckon and Essential Cuts (Arts & Crafts)

Shemekia Copeland, 33 1/3 (Telarc)

Crime & the City Solution, An Introduction to...Crime & the City Solution (Mute)

Mike Dillon, Urn (The Royal Potato Family)

Django Django, Django Django (Ribbon Music)

Dragonette, Bodyparts (Universal Canada)

Dum Dum Girls, End of Daze EP (Sub Pop)

Eluveitie, The Early Years (Nuclear Blast)

Graham Central Station, Raise Up (Listen 2 Entertainment/Razor & Tie)

Green Day, Uno (RCA)

Robert Hampson, Signaux and Suspended Cadences (eMego)

Steve Harris, British Lion (UME)

John Hiatt, Mystic Pinball (New West)

Michael Jackson, Bad 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Sony Legacy)

Waylon Jennings, Goin’ Down Rockin’: The Last Recordings (Saguaro Road)

The Late Call, Pale Morning Light (Tapete)

Lavender Diamond, Incorruptible Heart (Paracadute)

Bettye LaVette, Thankful N’ Thoughtful (ANTI-)

Levek, Look a Little Closer (Lefse)

Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap (Atlantic)

Peter Madsen’s Seven Sins Ensemble, Gravity of Love (Playscape)

The Mavericks, In Time (Valory)

Michael McDermott, Hit Me Back (Rock Ridge)

Melody’s Echo Chamber, Melody’s Echo Chamber (Fat Possum)

Mumford and Sons, Babel (Glassnote)

Murder by Death, Bitter Drink Bitter Moon (Bloodshot)

No Doubt, Push and Shove (Interscope)

Yoko Ono, Kim Gordon, and Thurston Moore, YOKOKIMTHURSTON (Chimera)

Ozomatli, OzoKidz (Hornblow)

Pathology, The Time of Great Purification (Victory)

Pink, The Truth About Love (RCA)

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Preservation Hall 50th Anniversary Collection (4-CD boxset) (Legacy)

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, St. Peter and 57th Street (Rounder)

Tristan Prettyman, Cedar + Gold (Capitol)

R.E.M., Document 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Capitol)

Ringo Deathstarr, Mauve (Sonic Unyon)

Roscoe Bandana, Time to Begin (Hard Rock)

Alejandro Sanz, La Música No Se Toca (Universal)

Trapper Schoepp & the Shades, Run Engine Run (Side One Dummy)

Pete Seeger, Pete Remembers Woody (Appleseed)

Pete Seeger & Lorre Wyatt, A More Perfect Union (Appleseed)

The Soft Pack, Strapped (Mexican Summer)

Ben Sollee, Half-Made Man (Tin Ear)

Willie Taylor, The Reintroduction of Willie Taylor (self-released mixtape)

Terror Danjah, Dark Crawler (Hyperdub)

Ungdomskulen, Secrecy (self-released)

Unnatural Helpers, Land Grab (Hardly Art)

Witchcraft, Legend (Nuclear Blast)

The Wonderful Sound of Induce!, Halfway Between Me and You (Wonder Sound)

Young Smoke, Space Zone (Planet Mu)

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