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Fishtank Ensemble: Woman in Sin (Self-released)

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The third album by this amazing group from California is one of the best times to be found on disc so far this year. Don't underestimate the unadulterated joy of the group, which uses violin, violin trumpet, accordion, musical saw, banjolele, doumbek, cajón and some mean slap bass.

Originals such as "Coucou" and the title track exercise a retro-naughty energy that brings to mind jazz-age swing to such a degree that you may imagine an army of flappers fueled on bathtub gin. "Españolette" is a Latin-derived instrumental with a raucous melody, carried by fiddler Fabrice Martinez and guest accordionist Jean-Paul Monsche—until, that is, singer Ursula Knudson leaps in with wordless soprano howls in duet with her own musical saw. On "After You've Gone," Knudson finds the vocal middle ground between Billie Holiday and Betty Boop.

Fishtank use their unique style to tackle Romanian gypsy music ("Am Furat de la Haidouks") and traditional Kurdish ("Nedim") and Serbian ("Kolo Suite") tunes. They also take a bracing run through flamenco on "Pena Andaluz," an original by guitarist Douglas Smolens.

But they also do well with the smoky, bluesy song "Fever," with Serbian upright bassist Djordje Stijepovic leading the way. Stijepovic shows off his mean rockabilly-bred slap-bass skills on his own tune, "Djordje's Rachenitza."

Fishtank Ensemble is a multi-culti party waiting for you to join in.

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