Music | Honor Roll: Your guide to the City Weekly Music Awards Top 30. | Music | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Music | Honor Roll: Your guide to the City Weekly Music Awards Top 30. 

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New: City Weekly Music Awards Blog

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By Angela Brown, Anna Brozek, Chris Brozek, Portia Early, John Forgach, Corey Fox, Bill Frost, Jamie Gadette, Tyler Lusk, Dave Morrissey & Dan Nailen

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In case you haven’t noticed, 2009 is all about change. Joining such landmark events as Barack Obama’s presidential victory and Utah’s new smoking ban, we’ve dropped the SLAMMys to introduce a newly formatted event that reaches out to the community by involving respected sources outside City Weekly to help weigh in on local music. We asked an eclectic group of people who live and breathe Utah sounds—including but not limited to Angela Brown (SLUG), Dan Nailen (Salt Lake magazine), Corey Fox (Velour), North Platte Records, Tyler Lusk (Sound VS Silence), Ebay Jamil Hamilton (KRCL), Dave Morrissey (KRCL), Terrance DH (Counterpoint Studios), Doug and Shar Wood (Woodshar Recording Studio), Chris Brozek and Anna Brozek (Slowtrain); Portia Early (X96); Tim Moes (Why Sound)—to select 25-30 artists from a master list (see the whole shebang here) generated in house. Their picks were tallied and a cumulative Top 30 emerged. Readers can affect nominees’ scores by voting at the showcases, Jan. 30-31 & Feb. 5-7, or online. The Top 3 will be announced in the Feb. 12 CWMA issue—which will also include a bevy of staff picks—and will perform Feb. 13 at The Depot with headliner Ben Kweller.  You can purchase tickets online at SmithsTix.com, at Slowtrain (221 E. Broadway) or at City Weekly (248 S. Main).

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¡Andale!
nThese elusive firecracker punks have absolutely earned the two exclamation marks bookending their commanding name, with one sweet-and-sour LP sure to weed out all the cowardly men in your life. Sass, crackle, pop! (Jamie Gadette, City Weekly)

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Afro Omega
n2008 opened a new chapter for Utah’s “sexy reggae” artists with Elisa James and Bronte James welcoming into the world a new daughter and a new album proving to naysayers that art and family are not mutually exclusive. Love Emergency re-establishes the band as big talent that’s got nowhere to go but up. (JG)

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Aye Aye
nAye Aye performs a unique hybrid of blues and straight-up space rock that varies with each live show—the audience never attains the same experience twice. Originally from Davis County, primary songwriter/visionary Andrew Alba credits the isolation of his hometown as his main reason for playing music. Alba’s haunting riffs and vocals reflect this—and are matched by other greats in the genre such as Entrance, Dylan and early Lou Reed. (Angela H. Brown, SLUG)

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Band of Annuals
n2008 was a big year for BOA: Daniel Johnston, six months on tour, chronic van troubles and the No Depression launch party with Minus 5. With an Americana sound that appeals to moms, snow/skate bros, hippies, hipsters, college kids, execs, and even the most elite music snobs—trust me, I know plenty—they break through barriers I never thought possible. Who knows what 2009 holds for this promising band? (Anna Brozek, Slowtrain)

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Blackhole
nWith a dark and dangerous (and yet sexy) rock rumble thrust forth by dueling bassists, Blackhole merge art and chaos like a runaway cement truck plowing though a gallery stroll. If the Jesus Lizard were fronted by the Lizard King, you’d have Blackhole (Bill Frost, City Weekly)

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Cave of Roses
nCave of Roses involved locking victims in a dark cave filled with venomous creatures. With no way to escape or see in the surrounding darkness, the victim was condemned to a painful death. This torture device was abolished in 1772, but Cave of Roses reclaimed the name—and terrifying vibe—in 2001. The band has a rabid following, particularly among members of the Utah Women’s Prison population. (John Forgach, KRCL)

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Cavedoll
nThe latest project by talented musician/engineer/perfectionist Camden Chamberlain often features video projections at their live shows. But even without stunning visuals, the electronic glam-pop rockers are out of sight, not to mention prolific as hell. One of their many releases, No Vertigo, landed in my top five albums of 2008. (Portia Early)

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The Devil Whale
nIt’s a whale of a tale—the story of the Devil Whale. After a nasty vocal polyp and a risky surgery for the lead vocalist and plenty of time apart from one another, the band formerly known as Palomino released a record full of sweet, jangly anthems. Like Paraders—an album completed long ago, but not put out until April 2008—is of the same caliber as nearly anything released nationally this year. Locally, the Band of Annuals may have owned 2007, but these past 12 months went to the Devil Whale. (David Morrissey, KRCL)

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Furs
nThe Furs have been around in some form for years but truly rose to prominence in 2008. Maybe it was that infamous show with The Black Angels, or the 2008 release of their first LP that makes the band feel like relative newbies. Led by their core, founding member Bryan Mink, they’re now dutifully doing their part to fill the dearth of psychedelic rock in SLC with tambourines, distorted guitar and droning bass that together create one wonderful, metallic mess. (David Morrissey)

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The Future Of The Ghost
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Listening to FOTG’s Freak Out, I get a rush of energy and a smile on my face. I wear comfortable shoes for their live shows because I will inevitably dance my ass off—and I don’t just do that all the time. The indie-rockers are full of life and passion, two key ingredients for cooking up a successful local act. If I had to pick a “band to watch” in SLC, FOTG would fit the bill. (Anna Brozek)

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Form of Rocket
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Winter 2001: I went to Kilby Court to see a touring band. I can’t remember who they were, but the local opener blew my mind and I fell in love with Form of Rocket. What’s not to like about two guys flying around stage yelling in your face, playing mathy guitar riffs matched by a rhythm section delivering the most solid, dense, heart-stopping bass lines and drum beats I’ve ever heard? I’ve seen FOR play close to 30 awe-inspiring times. They are the most important band from Utah in the last seven to eight years. (Tyler “Lucky” Lusk, Sound VS Silence)

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God’s Revolver
nIs it hardcore? Punk? Metal? Blues? God’s Revolver throw it all into their reckless and energizing sound. Listen long enough and you’ll see. It’s borderline genius in my book. Loud, dirty and occasionally offensively genius. It’ll make your hair stand up; your stomach drop. (Anna Brozek)

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The High Beams
nThe High Beams approach alt-country the way it used to before the indie-proliferation of acoustic guitars: Amps cranked, flannel flying and Chuck Taylors soaked with PBR. Like classic Whiskeytown, they also have the melodies to match the volume. (Bill Frost)

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I Am The Ocean
nWith track titles like “Chasing Bears and Reading Scriptures,” I Am the Ocean are almost as funny as they are heavy—almost. The band tempers brutal, scalding metal with prog-y atmospherics through epic song structures that exhaust and exhilarate. (Bill Frost)

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Joshua James
nIn the last 12 months, Joshua James played shows at Sundance and SXSW. He headlined a 10-week tour, and opened shows nationally for the likes of Swell Season. He appeared in Paste magazine and on NPR’s “Song of the Day.” James also produced and released RuRu’s debut record, Elizabeth, which broke into the iTunes Indie top 10. All while keeping his own 2007 release in the iTunes Folk top 100. In one year. Seriously? Joshua, you’re making the rest of us look lazy. (David Morrissey)

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Kid Theodore
n Talent plus relentless self-promotion have landed these indie-poppers several awards and gigs including a spot at CMJ sponsored by Zig Zag (ironically, no one in the band drinks or smokes). Their 2006 release Hello Rainey demonstrates their multi-instrumental skills matched with admirable professionalism. (Portia Early, X96)
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Laserfang
nBuilt from the ashes of local post-punkers I Am Electric, in 2006 founding members Shane Asbridge and Mike Torretta formed Laserfang with Stephen Chai and Weston Wulle—diversifying the group’s rockin’ sound with electronic/sax-fueled soul and psych. They gigged with newfound momentum and recorded a demo before side projects and a temporary out-of-state move from Wulle put Laserfang on hiatus. 2008 marked their active return. Let’s hope 2009 sends the boys back into the studio to finish those demos so I can get my grubby hands on them. (Angela H. Brown)

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Loom
nProg-punks Loom pack more unclassifiable drama into a song than a P.T. Anderson flick, complex guitars and violins swirling around throaty screams for a ride that’s wildly reckless and coolly controlled all at once. This fission defies definition. (Bill Frost)

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Michael Gross & The Statuettes
nWidely recognized for his role in Let’s Become Actors, Michael Gross picks up where the group left off with pristine pop-rock that sticks in your head long after the last clever line drops. Armed with his Statuettes, he’s fast making a name for himself as one of SLC’s best songsmiths. (Jamie Gadette)

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Mindstate
nMindstate’s Call the Cops is hip-hop with cross-over appeal—smoking soul and R&B with rapid-fire rhymes that when emcee Dusk One performs turn his head red as a radish. He’s a real livewire, giving his all while Honna deftly controls samples including Ogden-based Linus’ genius hooks on “Easy Now.” Steady, steady is the flow… (Jamie Gadette)

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Neon Trees
nAfter a brief stint in Los Angeles, Utah’s indie-pop rockers Neon Trees recently inked a deal with Island/Mercury Records and returned home to make it official. The quartet, long recognized around these parts for their dynamic live shows and tasty synth-driven hooks, inked the deal at Squatters, laying the foundation for continued success in their own back yard. Expect new material in 2009. (Jamie Gadette)

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Paul Jacobsen & the Madison Arm
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A copywriter by trade, Paul Jacobsen transforms onstage into an artist worthy of jamming with Steve Earle who Jacobsen admits traveled a slightly rockier road than his own. “My life is pretty good. I’m not going to sell the sad-sack story. I have a wife I love, a great kid.” All the more reason to celebrate his eponymous LP which sells not one but several sad-sack stories just fine. (Jamie Gadette)
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Purr Bats
n Offering a wonderfully bizarre breath of fresh air since the late 90s, downtown rock veterans Purr Bats produce body-movin’ hits with largely indecipherable lyrics drawing on leader Kyrbir’s penchant for obscure British comics and sitting room dramas. Daring and fun, their pop-gone-sour pushes the envelope with each album. Expect the unexpected in 2009. (Jamie Gadette)
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Red Bennies
nVeteran Salt Lake City band Red Bennies have evolved from noisy, ramshackle garage bashers into a tight rock & roll outfit with credible R&B leanings, tasteful guitar heroics and sweet tunes that stick to the ear like bubblegum in your girlfriend’s bob. (Bill Frost)

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Rotten Musicians
nIt’s tricky to create serious music with a sense of humor, but this hip-hop-loving crew has no problem with it. Mixing funky beats, clever wordplay and sly samples on their new album Say You Love Her, Rotten Musicians will cause flashbacks for any fans of The Muppets or Bill Cosby. It’s a highly musical dance party; I haven’t been able to stop playing “Rotten High School Football Rules!,” thanks to its cheerleader chants and lines like “You’re done like mom’s famous Sunday roast.” (Dan Nailen, Salt Lake Magazine)

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RuRu
n I’ve watched Isaac Russell (aka RuRu) grow from a 4-foot nothing 12 year-old playing blues licks to a towering 16 year-old writing incredibly heartfelt material. Rocked by a heavy dose of reality—the tragic death of his mother to cancer—he penned the melancholy album Elizabeth, charting high on iTunes and attracting courters from both indie and major labels. He has the music, voice and growing fan base to make him Utah’s next success story! (Corey Fox, Velour)
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Subrosa
nLike The Melvins wrestling Rasputina in the La Brea Tar Pits, Subrosa’s distortion-saturated doom metal is laced with soaring violins and come-hither (to hell) vocals that make the downward spiral tragically enticing and blacker than scorched leather. (Bill Frost)

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Tolchock Trio
n Oh man, if you haven’t heard Tolchock Trio’s most recent release Abalone Skeletone you are missing out! Sell your Walkmen records and forget about whatever indie-rock album you were going to buy—it’s all just “average” compared to Abalone. Go to their shows, buy their albums, and plan on bragging to your friends that you knew them back when they were a “local” band. (Chris Brozek)
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Vile Blue Shades
nI’ve seen a lot of over-the-top, visually enthralling rock shows through the years, but the energy onstage the first time I checked out Vile Blue Shades was truly awesome. The combination of musicians created breakneck grooves that seemed to stumble out of the gate when the songs started, and the disjointed endings were no more graceful. But in between—ahhhh, bliss. Art-rock you can dance to, with a shadow-boxing frontman and hype-gal/go-go dancer to boot? Sign me up. (Dan Nailen)

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David Williams
n Whether he’s writing with Black Hens, Black Wagon, or on his own, David Williams is easily the most overlooked songwriters in Utah. His songs are catchy, creative, and lyrically brilliant—he even occasionally writes new material in one sitting without any instruments! I’ve acquired more recordings from him than I have of any other artist I’ve ever obsessed over. (Chris Brozek, Slowtrain)
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City Weekly Music Awards Nominees, full list

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1h86335

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!Andale!

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Accidente

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Afro Omega

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Aye Aye

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The Bad Apples

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Band of Annuals

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Ben Johnson

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Blackhole

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The Brobecks

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Bronco

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Cavedoll

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Cosm

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Danger Hailstorm

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David Williams

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Deadbeats

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The Devil Whale

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DJ Chase One

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DJ Knucklz

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DJ Shanty

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Dulce Sky

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Eagle Twin

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Elizabethan Report

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Ether Orchestra

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Form of Rocket

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Furs

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Future of the Ghost

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Gaza

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God’s Revolver

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High Beams

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I Am The

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I Am The Ocean

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I Hate Girls With Bruises

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Iota

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Jesse Walker

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Joshua James

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Joshua Payne

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Kid Theodore

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Laserfang

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Le Force

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Let’s Become Actors

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Linus

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Location Location

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Loiter Cognition

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Loom

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Mathematics Etc.

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Michael Gross & The Statuettes

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Mindstate

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Mury

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Mushman

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Navigator

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Neon Trees

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Nolens Volens

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The Numbs

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Oh! Wild Birds

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Palace of Buddies

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Paul Jacobsen

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Pilot This Plane Down

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Pink Lightnin’

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The Platte

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Purr Bats

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QStandsforQ

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Red Bennies

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Red Rock Rondo

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Redemption

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Rotten Musicians

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The Rubes

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RuRu

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The Smash Brothas

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Stacey Board

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Stag Hare

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Stephen Chai

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Subrosa

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Tamerlane

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Tenants of Balthazar’s Castle

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Tolchock Trio

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Top Dead Celebrity

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Trebuchet

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VCR5

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Vile Blue Shades

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Wendy Ohwiler

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The Wolfs

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Xur

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