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The Hot Sardines - FF&C / Straits Times: Hot Tracks review

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New York ensemble The Hot Sardines play hot swing with a twist of self-aware glee. If Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox is too modern and millennial mash-up for you, The Hot Sardines' more purist style will be up your alley.

Band leader Evan "Bibs" Palazzo's approach is strictly swingstyle, but jazzed up with smart arrangements. A perfect demonstration of this is the clever tweak of Oklahoma's People Will Say We're In Love, which gets a Latininflected arrangement with clicking castanets and parping brass, while tongue-in-cheek violins swoon in the background. The number is held together by lead singer Miz Elizabeth's pitch- perfect delivery, which strikes a balance between girly coo and sensuous croon.

Also check out Palazzo's piano skills on Medley: Comes Love (L'amour S'en Fout). He opens with classical Baroque piano doodling before segueing into old-school stride piano and easy bebop. Another standout is When I Get Low I Get High, which benefits from the guest appearance of Alan Cumming, whose raspy whisper lends campy fun to the proceedings. There is also a swingy take on Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love and the lovely Henry Manciniworthy Palazzo instrumental original, Gramercy Park.

The ensemble, which includes trumpeter Jason Prover, drummer Alex Raderman, saxophonist Nick Myers and trombonist Mike Sailors, provides stellar back-up. An exuberant sophomore album that bounces easily from N'awlins hot swing to Parisian bistro to American speakeasy genres without giving you whiplash.    READ THE FULL Straits Times REVIEW