Single Review: Paul Maged – The Resistance

Paul Maged

New Yorker Paul Maged brings forward the release of new single The Resistance as he tries to deal with the current political climate in America with a track full of passion and dismay.

Following on from the rockers two recent EP’s The Glass River and Light Years Away, Paul Maged was planning to finish his trilogy with another EP, but this has been temporarily pushed back to 2019 to allow new single The Resistance to stand on its own two feet. It’s unashamed, unabashed, and with it comes an extremely strong political message against the current American political regime. The rock/metal connotations help the track portray the atmosphere it sets out to create, and with it you get a real feel of the frenzied mindset the artist is currently in.

Immediately the track features a noticeably heavier riff than much of Maged’s previous work, instantly leading into the singer ripping apart the current political climate in America. He issues a call to arms featuring his signature sarcasm and emblazoned passion that’s thrown in bucket loads at the listener: “Greed and power have been your crusade, lying and stealing got your fat ass paid, in a matter of time you’ll meet judgement day” …hmm, I wonder who he could be talking about?

The Resistance

The beat of the track is menacingly slow, allowing the listener to hear every quip and lyric, take it in, and if Maged has anything to do with it, bring it onto the streets. This also helps the guitar riff stand out in much finer detail, and a guitar solo that rises like a call to arms.

For all the tracks good work, you could argue that it sometimes feels too passionate. The intensity of the vocals and lyrics can actually crowd out the fact there’s a nice melody in there, covered over by the vitriol and hate. Maged’s passion is commendable, but it could have helped the track to concentrate more on the overall structure to improve the message. Others would argue into the night that this would dampen the track’s spirit and make it less of a protest song, but strength can still be created without crowding out the song – just look at Bob Dylan’s early work.

The accompanying video (see below) really socks it to the US president with images of burning effigies, crudely drawn and berating cartoons, protest marches, and anything else showing Donald Trump in a bad light. It’s a harrowing video showing the scary state of politics, which could easily be translated to other countries in the present day, and helps connect the lyrical content to the track.

Paul Maged does exactly what he sets out to do with The Resistance, by putting forward his passionate fight against the current American political climate, its president, and calling on everyone to fight against it. The artist wears his heart on his sleeve, and in some respects, this could be seen as the downfall on certain aspects of the track. The guitar riff however, helps push the track forward with the speed being spot on, allowing the listener to really take on the message within. The Resistance needed to be brought forward for release due to obvious reasons, but I’m looking forward to the upcoming EP where we can get more of a taste of Maged’s unfiltered rock without so much political intrigue and, hopefully, a bit more fun.

Score: 3/5

By Jamie Parmenter

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Single Review: The Stone MG’s – I Need You

The Stone MG's

We take a listen to new track I Need You from The Stone MG’s, which tells a stark tale of addiction against a rock ‘n’ roll beat.

From the very beginnings of rock, many songs have had underlying drug references in the music, and sometimes the artist’s have had a lifestyle to match. It’s almost been glorified in some circumstances with nothing of the downside being talked about. I Need You by the Stone MG’s flips this trend and creates a track based around the dark side of addiction and all the problems that come with it. Lead singer Rodney James shows great strength in vocalising this and really highlights the plights and sacrifices that need to be made to battle addiction.

I Need You

The track starts off with similarities to Kasabian’s Empire, but this ends as soon as Rodney James’ distinctive and varied vocals slide in, perfectly accompanying the tales of addiction and downfall. He sounds strained and full of pain as he sings through hard to listen to lyrics of sacrifice and giving up that really hit home: “If you scream you love me, I’ll be your whore and give you the only thing worth dying for.”. The sound harks back to some of the early 70s rock ‘n’ roll, and even throws in a sax solo later on. This may be a gentle nod to psychedelic rock pioneers Pink Floyd, who’s lead singer Syd Barrett’s life was forever affected by an addiction to drugs.

The track’s beat is thrown forward by the use of a barely changing drumbeat, against a strong melody and a chorus that performs the job of breaking up the track admirably; it does this by being short and to the point. It then turns back to the dark and heavy material of the verses, giving you a stark reminder once again of the track’s underlying theme.

I Need You doesn’t glorify a drug and addiction culture as so many rock songs do, but instead uses the bluesy beat to leave you with a message of how addiction can eat away at you. It has more soul than your typical rock song with a singer who is vocally in tune to the tracks need to educate, and that’s why it works so well. It’s brave and speaks volumes for the maturity of a band at the top of their game.

Score: 4.5/5

By Jamie Parmenter

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EP Review: Psychocide – Hungover

Psychocide

Montreal-based alt rockers Psychocide return with new EP Hungover, and with it treat us to some well-crafted but raucous songs.

For a band to really click, it doesn’t necessarily mean you all have to be brought up with the same musical tastes or under the same set of circumstances. This is definitely true for Psychocide, with singer and guitarist Thandrayen a rock and pop enthusiast from Mauritius, Li a metal drummer and McFarlane and educated jazz player. The sum of each part brings something unique to the band, and new EP Hungover is stronger for it. Heavy drinking played an important part in the record’s beginnings (hence the title), but tailoring the tracks and nurturing them out of their shells is what really beings this EP to life.

Confined starts off the record, sounding like Arctic Monkeys gone prog rock. Thandrayan delights in the style and his vocals suit it down to a tee. Clever guitar riffs litter the track and help build a melody that’s strong enough to push the track forward, with the drums keeping everything tight and interesting.

Hungover

Kinaesthesia (awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body, for those of you that don’t know…including me until I looked it up) is probably the most radio-friendly track on the record that bubbles up nicely with a drum-beat and walking bass line forming the main basis of the song, with an interesting talking section by vocalist Thandrayan. Guitar is unleashed in a rollocking guitar solo that only helps strengthen the track and shows the band at their most fun yet.

Unattainable takes things down a notch, showing that the band don’t need all out rock to cover over a lack of decent melodies and songwriting. This is impressive if we’re to believe 3/5 of the tracks on the EP were born out of a drinking binge from Thandrayan. It has a distinctive 80s feel, but the production helps it sound both old and new and the same time, making it all the more timeless.

My Favourite Game is a half- decent cover of the 90s track by The Cardigans, but doesn’t quite ascend the original, whereas EP closer Crash finishes off on the heavy side of rock in a track that’s unforgiving, angry and relentless.

Hungover was born out of chaos, but the EP manages to tailor and maintain a tight sound throughout. Thandrayan is on form here, and really rallies the band together around his vocals, creating a coherent and always natural sound throughout. The different backgrounds of each band member has created an interesting record that refuses to sit still, and apart from the cover, the tracks stand out on their own merits every time.

Score: 3.5/5

By Jamie Parmenter

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EP Review: H! – Journey To The Centre Of Yourself

H!

Swedish experimental pop/rock songwriter H! releases new EP Journey To The Centre Of Yourself, with a genre-hopping swagger that works most of the time.

H! (Howard Beard-Marlowe) is currently looking forward to gigging around Stockholm in 2019, so to give us a taste of what to expect, he’s released EP Journey To The Centre Of Yourself. He describes it as a personal reflection of his life from 18 to 24, with each song roughly representing a year – I guess you could call it a concept record of sorts. H! has a penchant for switching things up and playing around with genres, and he definitely relies on this idea heavily throughout the EP, inviting the listener to share in his young life through music.

Hooray Beer! Starts us off with a ska beat akin to The Specials against background noise of a something like a restaurant crowd. The track is reminiscent of 2000 ska/rock stalwarts The Ordinary Boys, and just as catchy with strong experimental sections that veer away from the ska sound, and float straight into prog rock seamlessly.

Journey To The Centre Of Yourself

If You Could See Yourself switches things up, with a darker ambience and attitude, as heavy drums and guitars span the track amidst musings of regret and change on a melody and synths straight out of the Linken Park playbook. It has enough verve and individuality to distance itself from heavy comparisons however, as H!’s penchant for mellow, poppy sections once again works really well.

The genre hopping EP continues with Chasing What You Don’t Want focusing more on a pop/rock vibe that visits good ideas and melody structures, whereas Life’s Too Short draws comparisons with Queen’s 80s catalogue and a gentle nod to Muse, with just as much variety that make it an album highlight.

No Way Out wanders into rock ballad territory, and for some, this genre hopping might suddenly seem a bit much with the track not standing on its own two feet as well as others. Where Do I begin finishes off the EP with much of the same issue. The song does help conclude the journey of genres that the record takes you through with a piano that rides into a guitar-laden chorus, but it just feels slightly lost amongst the fantastic ideas and variety from earlier songs.

Journey To The Centre Of Yourself loves to jump from genre to genre, and most of the time this works well with strong ideas, impressive instrumentation, and vocals that dance and deviate over the top. By the end though, the tracks become a little more formulaic, with a penchant for keeping it safe. A lot of artists use EPs to try and test ideas and see what works, so this could be what H! was trying to do here. There’s enough to love however, and hopefully this will give H! Enough time to realise what works for any upcoming full-length record that may be released in the future.

Score: 3/5

By Jamie Parmenter

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Single Review: Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz – Matterbloomlight

eric and mark

New single Matterbloomlight from Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz takes the listener on a tender journey, with a gently caressing nature and strong vocal work.

It must be great when you find your songwriting soulmate. Yes, some artists are destined to create music alone, but then others gifts are amplified tenfold by a partnership. One such partnership is Eric Anders (Singer-songwriter) and Mark O’Bitz (guitarist, composer). Meeting at one of Mark’s Pasadena shows back in 2002, Eric had just recently got into singing and Mark suggested they write some original songs together – a partnership was born. It’s these chance meetings that sometimes lead to great music, and as the years rolled on – during gaps as long as 5 years for life to take place – the duo continued to write and release music together. New single Matterbloomlight is a culmination of everything that works between the two artists, and manages to give us a taste of what could be in store for the pair’s next full-length record, Ghosts To Ancestors.

Matterbloomlight

Matterbloomlight rises up from the start with atmospheric, calming vocals and dreamy instrumentation based around plucking acoustic guitar and gentle synths. Because Anders and O’Blitz have worked together for such a long time, their strong musical bond makes everything on the track seem second nature. The chorus is one of their catchiest yet, as it slots seamlessly into the track, rising from the ashes of the verse before ebbing away again. Its gentle sound could have seen the song’s melody lost if it was written by lesser musicians, but it’s played beautifully, and the production really rises the tension where necessary, so the listener is never bored or lost.

Anders vocals are a pleasure to listen to, as his soft tones sit perfectly against the chilled out folk vibe, and caress the listener into a comfortable hug. It’s the sort of track you listen to when you want reassurance, or just a little pat on the shoulder as if to say ‘you’re not alone’.

Matterbloomlight is pretty, warm and musically one of the duo’s strongest performances yet. I’d be interested to hear how this sounds live, and whether they can get the same amount of atmosphere and emotion out of it, because it oozes through in the production here. If Matterbloomlight is anything to go by, their next record should be a belter.

Score: 4/5

By Jamie Parmenter

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Review: Midwest Soul Xchange – Weakened At The Asylum

midwest soul xchange

We Take a Listen to the new ‘rock opera’ Weakened At The Asylum from Midwest Soul Xchange, and with it we’re transported to a world that you can’t help but be taken in by.

Sometimes when people hear the words ‘rock opera’, they don’t know what to expect. And when you hear that Midwest Soul Xchange have attempted this very idea based around the Flint, Michigan water crisis, I doubt you’d have any clearer of an idea. Weakened At The Asylum follows the lives of several fictional characters as they attempt to ride their way through the tragedy, and no matter how strange this idea sounds to you, you’d be missing out of you didn’t give this record a try. The song’s values, sounds and ideas create a colourful and playful approach to the record that’s never boring and always trying something new.

Overture: The Story Unfolds sets the scene for the record that ensues. Straight away you get that late Beatles vibe – it’s extremely pretty with rolling instrumentals and layered vocals. Nate and Ryan take their time in this track to explain the premise of the album, cleverly speaking over the track in a way that movies or plays do, and allowing the listener to settle into the upcoming tracks and stories.

Fifteen Parts begins with ominous tones as vocals dance around the track’s pleasant and never predictable melody. Nate and Ryan have a penchant for changing up the feel and sound of a song from nowhere, and the chorus to this track is the perfect example as it ups the tempo and adds in other instrumentation to great effect.

weakened at the asylum

The Loser Illusion reminds of Radiohead meets the fab four, and just as inventive. The story continues and once again it has these sad connotations that ride along with the source material, inviting the listener into the world of Flint with its heavy questions: “Have you lost a lot along the way, what have you become?”.

Molehill Mountain’s Simon and Garfunkel style vocals stroll along nicely against a country style ballad that’s uplifting, whereas Strangely Exciting’s guitar strings hit you right in the heart; if you’ve listened to Beck’s Morning Phase album, you’d be on the right track. The band manage to create a big sound that’s larger than you realise at first, and the amount of layers makes it a true ‘big band’ mentality that  helps push along the story and messages hidden throughout the lyrics.

The Stand steps on the pedal and ups the rock for a track thats high on adrenaline and melody as it bellows out  “This is why we fill the streets, make a stand”. It’s a protest track and a calling to arms, not just for the morals and water crisis the album is based on, but for anyone that’s fighting for any kind of cause.

Trilogy winds up the rock opera, and takes over 7 minutes to do so in fine fashion. Once again instrumentation and fine ideas run thick and fast, chop and change, and drop in and out until you don’t know where you are. Its an impressive feat to not only keeps everything in check, but also creates strong and impressive lyrics that fit in perfectly, playing hide and seek with your emotions.    

For a sheer attempt at a rock opera based around a water crisis, the band gain kudos points. But the’ve not only attempted it, they’ve managed to do it extremely well. The tracks are well structured and straight to the point where necessary, but are also backed up by strong musicianship, fun melodies, and a penchant for trying interesting ideas that work. Midwest Soul Xchange chose a concept that was close to their hearts, and that’s why this is musically and lyrically strong. You can hear  how much this album means to them, and because of that, the listener feels it too. Weakened At The Asylum is a great album that not only grabs you by the heart, but is vocally on point, and a joy to listen to.

Score: 4.5/5

By Jamie Parmenter

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EP Review: Elizabeth Sage – Just Go!

Elizabeth Sage

New EP Just Go! from Elizabeth Sage manages to be both commanding and thought-provoking, as the singer combines the perfect mix of pop and rock elements.

Pop music these days is so much more than it used to be. It encompasses a myriad of different genres, is anything but formulaic, and can be a lot more technical than in the past – it truly is in a golden age. Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter  Elizabeth Sage has taken all of this on board, and with new EP Just Go!,  she’s created a pop/rock EP that really speaks volumes for her debut effort. With pensive lyrics and catchy and efficient melodies, it manages to stand out amongst the crowd.

Lead single Disease Of Loneliness kicks in with electronic drums leading into other instruments gradually being added until a strong pop tune is born. Think of Taylor Swift meets Kelly Clarkson – poppy but also rocky. Rhythmic lyrics throw the song forwards with a slight country feel laying underneath, that helps bring out the track’s sincerity. The lyrics focus around escaping negativity from ended relationships before they affect any future ones, and Sage portrays this thought with ease and clarity.

Just Go

All The Words You Say starts of with a nineties indie feel with guitar against focused vocals. The song progresses and brings in outside influences from more recent starlettes such as First Aid Kit, with fluttery vocals set against rolling rhythms, haunting lyrics and cleverly layered vocals. Sage has a penchant to find hooks where others wouldn’t even think of, and this comes together beautifully here with the focus once again on relationships and how they can quickly turn toxic – the singer definitely has had a troubled love life which she finds solace in through her music.

California Sun feels more upbeat than previous tracks and is the perfect way to end the EP. A strong drum rhythm helps change the sound of the track as Sage sings of escaping the drudgery of everyday life, and just driving off into the California Sun. The sound of the track perfectly portrays this image of freedom that all of us would want, but most of us are too scared to go for. Gentle and fun lyrics that fit seamlessly together create the basis for the track, with Sage showing off her skills as a songwriter: “You’re gunna dive and I’ll hold the GPS, and the birds and the trees are our witness that we’re having fun”. It can bring a smile to even the most heavy-hearted person, and give them a brighter aspect on life.

Just Go! Is a strong EP from Elizabeth Sage, and truly makes you want to hear more from the artist. She encompasses the perfect amount of pop against rock, without either genre being too overbearing, and therefore bringing out the best of both worlds. The tracks are catchy and get their messages across clearly with little fuss, which is testament to the singer/songwriters abilities. Just Go! shows Elizabeth Sage has a strong future ahead of her and we should look forward to hearing what else this artist has to offer.

Score: 4/5

By Jamie Parmenter

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Single Review: Geoff Gibbons – Fall Girl

Geoff Gibbons

We take a listen to new single ‘Fall Girl’ from Geoff Gibbons, with his story-led lyrics creating a country rock track full of imagery and self-doubt.

Stories play an important part of Geoff’s music. Hailing originally from Vancouver, Geoff has travelled around the world to find musical influences and sounds, but he’s always been fascinated by country rock. The love of this genre really comes through in his music, and a trip to Nashville and Memphis was a huge influence on his previous record, Buffalo Hotel. New single Fall Girl carries on this country theme with the artist’s usual littering of nuanced wordplay throughout, and a fresh guile and verve that really brings the listener into the track.

Fall Girl is Gibbons’ ode to Autumn, focusing on classic country rock rhythms and instrumentation as Geoff croons about a girl he feels is out of his league – a classic country conundrum. Taking tips from artists such as Jackson Browne and the more contemporary Ryan Adams along the way, the track is wrapped up in a big country bow that at times feels like a warm hug.

Fall Girl

The song jumps though country music hoops feeling comfortable and serene right from the beginning, with great production to raise the track in the chorus and really bring it to life. Gibbons’ penchant for creating subtle musical flourishes throughout his tracks is present here, as instruments intertwine, backing vocals raise from the background, and melodic changes help throw the song forwards.

The singer/songwriter has always loved writing tracks that put you in the shoes of someone else’s trials and tribulations, and Fall Girl is no different. Hitting on that seventies country-rock sound like a nail on the head, Gibbons finds imagery in the mundane, with poetic license bringing words to life: “She likes a lonely street light glow where dead ends meet”. The drama is brought out beautifully in the music, with his clever lyrics painting a picture over an infatuation that he feels will never come to fruition. The track does work well, but perhaps needs a little more swagger to really make it stand out, but then again, Gibbon’s music has always been one of the ‘listen to it a few times to catch on’ variety.

Fall Girl is a decent track that shows off the artists flair for wordplay and imagery. It feels as though Gibbons has tailored the sound he’s looking for, finally feeling settled, musically. This leaves and intriguing though of what direction his next album will be, and what we can expect.

Score: 3.5/5

By Jamie Parmenter

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Single Review: Lord Sonny The Unifier – Right In Your I!

Lord Sonny

We take a listen to new Lord Sonny The Unifier track ‘Right In Your I!’ and with it we’re treated to a rollicking, dirty anthem that stands up for the innocent.

Who doesn’t love a good dirty synth rock song? Well, when it’s done well at least. Luckily, Lord Sonny The Unifier really do hit the nail on the head with new track Right In Your I!, and perhaps this is because of the underlying theme the track follows. It seems to stand up for those who need it, those that are being bullied or suffering at the hands of someone else, and do this by sticking two fingers up to the aforementioned aggressors. This angle is once again highlighted in the music video (see below) which perfectly shows off the anger, pain and suffering, and yearning for justice this form of torture can take on in youth, or adulthood.

Right In Your I!

The band perform the task of changing this idea into music admirably, as Right In Your I! Is psychedelic and loud right from the off, intermittently settling down for moments of reflection. Greg Tiratano’s gruff but always fitting vocals are almost two voices in their own, sharing this quality with the likes of The Clash’s Joe Strummer. The vocals are always on point and help bring the music together. Dirty guitar solos litter the track with clever production to make sure every instrument has its chance in the forefront, and although heavily influenced by 60s and 70s (I’m looking at you Marc Bolan), there are also some more up to date influences present – The Coral, Ludes (probably little known these days but share affinities), and 90s stalwarts Supergrass. These are, peculiarly, all British Bands, whereas Lord Sonny The Unifier are primarily based in New York – but who doesn’t like being influenced by British rock stars? It is the home of the Beatles and Stones after all.

The single is beautifully constructed and you can tell it was a real passion to create. The thumping drums drive the track on, but also find time to bridge the gap between musical changes in mind-altering sections that really make the track stand out.

Right In Your I! Is a triumph of blending past psychedelic rock genres with flourishes of new ideas that help the track become a beast of its own. The band should be proud of what this track stands for, and it’s the perfect release to show off the bands talents and grow new fans for their new record Final Notice!.

Score: 4/5

By Jamie Parmenter

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Single Review: Lucinda Belle – I’ll Be Loving You

Lucinda Belle

We take a listen to new single I’ll Be Loving You from Lucinda Bell, and with it we’re transported into the a world gone by of seductive jazz, littered with pop connotations.

I’ll Be Loving You is the first track written for forthcoming album Think Big: Like Me, which Lucinda has been working on for a while now. Lucinda was previously a child prodigy with the harp, with most people thinking this would be the direction she’d go in. But like many a young musician in today’s world, outside musical influences seeped in from left, right and centre, and so began her journey to the multi-talented musician and genre jumping style she has today. The track takes the listener on a journey through her internal world, inviting you to share her thoughts and fears.

As soon as I’ll Be Loving You kicks in, you get that classic Hollywood, smokey atmosphere that’s gentle and sophisticated, suave and sexy. The slowed down ragtime rhythm flows through the gentle guitar against the harp before trumpets appear for the chorus to crank things up a notch. The lyrics too and fro between the happy and sad as the track glides along on a walking bass rhythm and it’s playful jazz-pop stylings, with Lucinda singing her heart out with poetic blues-based lyrics: “Around the corner there’s a girl that’s done her time in feeling blue”. It reminds me of some early Libertines work before they progressed into the punk rock direction – they actually had some beautiful tracks that were in this style, and you can still here some of the melody in their later work.

I'll Be Loving You

Lucinda also gets the appeal of Vinyl with this track (which we here at Vinyl Chapters obviously love), cutting the single using an 8 track 50’s recording studio in two live takes…how cool is that? This makes the offering sound much warmer than on digital formats, and fits in perfectly with the genre and styling of the music.

Now to address the elephant in the room… yes, with Lucinda you will notice definite similarities to Amy Winehouse, but these are difficult to escape by anyone creating this type of music. It’s time to let go of Amy and allow her wonderful music style to be used by others. Using this style, Lucinda transports you back to a world gone by, managing to be both sultry and commanding at the same time. She hangs onto words where needed to bring more effect and accentuate a point, but doesn’t over-do this, which is a common problem. The chorus is ridiculously addictive, showing that the singer has a keen ear for a melody, and can spot a hook from a mile away.

I’ll Be Loving You is a testament to following your own direction. Lucinda comes into her own on this track, grabbing the genre by the horns in a way no one has managed to do since Amy Winehouse. It’s infectious, innocent and sweet one minute, then turns everything on its head the next with instinctive rhythms, a catchy chorus and tight production. If this is anything to go by, the new record is going to be fantastic.

Score: 4/5

By Jamie Parmenter

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  • Artist: Judas Priest.
Record: Unleashed in the East.
"I've liked Metal and Hard Rock since I was a child, but in my youth I mostly listened
to Dance and Techno.
One day my father bought this LP on a Flea market, I didn't know Judas Priest
before, but we listened to the Record together and I was fascinated.
I was touched by the aggressive sound and the pressured voice of Rob
Halford. Such a heavy sound I had never heard before.
The whole album is a favourite of mine and every song is great in its own way.
It was one of the records which brought me finally to Metal Music, and Vinyl too.
'Unleashed in the East' was one of the first records on Vinyl that I held in my
hands, so this Album will always be a special one for me, and one of the best live
records of my collection." #vinyl #vinylcollection #music #records #vinyladdict #vinyljunkie #recordcollection #vinylcollector  #vinylgram #vinylcommunity #instavinyl #vinylrecords #record #recordcollector #nowspinning  #vinylporn #nowplaying #lp #vinyligclub #rpm #albumcover #vinyloftheday  #hardrock  #audiophile #turntable #vinylchapters #judaspriest

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