Tuesday’s Splendiferous Awesomeness: Pink Martini Leaves Me Shaken, Stirred

Splendor in the Grass

"Splendor" is the only word for it, my friends.

If you’re one of the poor unfortunate souls who has yet to hear a Pink Martini album, I both pity and envy you. Pity, because you have been missing out on a source of serious Awesomeness; envy, because there’s nothing quite like hearing them for first time.

On the other ear, er, hand, if you’re already a fan of the best thing to come out of Portland since Sam Elliot’s elaborate mustachios, then you, like me, will squeal with glee today, the release date for their new album Splendor in the Grass.

In the words of bandleader Thomas Lauderdale, “this album is all about participating in the world…being part of it, being out in the street and finding moments of incredible breathtaking splendor in the activities and unfoldings of every day.”

In addition to China Forbes’ elegant, stirring cover of the titular song, highlights for me include: a sprightly instrumental, “Ohayoo Ohio;”  the fantastic two-song conversation between the fed-up Maria and philandering Lorenzo (“And Then You’re Gone” and “But Now I’m Back”), which is made even more exquisite by the recording debut of NPR’s own Ari Shapiro as Lorenzo;  a cover of “Sing” that elevates it far beyond its Sesame-Street roots while still evoking its happy energy; and the moving, gloriously fragile recording of “Piensa en Mi” by the nigh-deified ranchera singer Chavela Vargas (a ground-breaker in many ways, and an amazing artist and inspiration in the LGBT community).

If you’re a fan of intelligent and thoughtfully-written music accompanied by witty, charming lyrics, do yourself a favor and get this album today (There’s also an import available with a bonus DVD for my fellow completionists out there).

NB: Neophytes, while there’s nothing wrong with starting with this album, if you want to gain a deeper appreciation of a truly multicultural and powerfully moving “little orchestra,” be sure to check out their other albums as well (“Hang On Little Tomato” is where I came in, and “U Plavu Zoru” remains one of my favorite songs to this day).

While you’re listening to your new album, why not click on the Art of Elysium link at the far right? You can complete a few activities and help bring music, art and fun to kids convalescing in hospitals nationwide. It only takes a few moments of your time, but to a sick kid, it can bring hours of fun. Thanks!

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