by TED S. McGREGOR JR AND JOEL HARTSE & r & & r & Pink Martini
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & hen you pop this CD into your iTunes, it tells you the genre is "Electronica." That's way off, but you can't blame Apple's genre engine -- this record is all over the map. No, really, they sing songs in French, Spanish and Japanese, with a smidgen of Russian and Italian. Oh, and they do one in Arabic. Only their third record in 10 years, it's another triumph for Portland's own musical sensation.
Founded by pianist Thomas Lauderdale, and driven by singer China Forbes (the two met as undergrads at Harvard), Pink Martini is a throwback to the swanky sounds of the pre-Beatles 1960s. Their lush orchestration will have you doing the tango even if you can't dance. "Bukra Wba'do," sung in Arabic, is a silly love song that makes a subversive statement without trying to, while breaking up was never so rousing as in "Dosvedanya Mio Bambino." But rising above them all is the funny "Hey Eugene," about the fleeting nature of drunken trysts. Considered by itself, iTunes might just call that song "Pop."
-- TED S. McGREGOR JR.
DOWNLOAD: "Hey Eugene"
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & W & lt;/span & ith just a week left in spring, the New York City-based electronic pop duo Misha have made the first great summer record of 2007. Sunny, easy and breezy (but not cheesy), this buoyant record is full of songs that don't take themselves too seriously, crackling with the energy and possibility of a summer love affair. There's plenty of the history of pop crammed into Misha's charming little songs, from John Chao's late-'60s Britpop intro on "Crystal in Love" to Ashley Yao's Kanye West-ish chipmunk vox on "Cruelist Heart."
Somehow, though, there's a keen bittersweetness at work, too. The band claims all sorts of over-the-top melancholy influences, from Jeff Buckley to Nina Simone to Wong Kar-Wai, and sadness does seep in. You know, summer always ends.