Winterpills and Melinda chills
Mucho thanko to AdamH for suggesting I listen to the Winterpills (check them out here). I've just toured through the iTunes samples of their new album, and my first reaction is that they're great. Vaguely spooky, very melodic pop with layered male-female harmonies and the occasional explosion of drums. I'm instantly reminded of The Shins, and that's a good, good thing.
And also, there's a hint of Cowboy Junkies in there. A similar relaxed lushness, as though the beautiful music were being made just after a nap.
Now let's turn our attention to American Idol. For those of you that don't watch it, consider me your lifeline to the most popular television show in America. The New York Times recently noted that the show could lose half its audience and still be in the top 10, so I think we all have a cultural responsibility to know a little about what's going on over there...
...but even if you disagree with that statement, trust me when I say we all need to know about Melinda Doolittle. It doesn't matter which venue introduces us to an artist this exciting: the point is that she's been introduced. She's phenomenal. Her vocal expressiveness and control, her charming personality, and her ability to impeccably inhabit multiple musical personalities make her seem destined for artistic brilliance. So far, she's excelled as a soul singer, a jazz thrush, and a blues belter. Just watch this performance of "My Funny Valentine:"
To quote the mom in that famous episode of "Good Times" where the dad's character dies, "Damn, damn, damn." She's just exquisite. The grace with which she sinks to the bottom of her range in the early riff is so sultry, and she exhibits no effort when she surges into the higher notes at the end. And her phrasing of the line "Don't, baby, don't change a hair for me" is filled with sensual affection. You can hear the smile in the way she sings it.
And I know I'm being effusive, but I also think I'm right. It's rare for a performer to make me feel this instantly electrified, so I'm going with it.
Let me know if you want me to post tonight's exceptional take on Lieber and Stoller's "I'm a Woman." Peggy Lee may have started that song, but Melinda finishes it, you know what I mean?