New Authentic

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The Atlanta-based octet the Robustos released their sophomore album, The New Authentic, in 1999. The band's invigorating, swing-fueled rock/R&B/ska sound is quite effective, largely due to the soulful wailing of vocalist Tonya Abernathy. The Motown-meets-ska "My Heart and Soul" and the more traditional reggae tune "Creepin' Around" are among several strong originals, but the best tracks here are covers. Both "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "Lullaby of Birdland" are given distinctive, energetic, and startlingly fresh arrangements. The Robustos' best asset is their avoidance of glaring retro-worship. Unlike the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and other bands of their ilk, the Robustos are able to sound inspired instead of shamelessly derivative. Incidentally, The New Authentic is also a great party record. Highly recommended.

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