Review Summary: Party!
The blatnaya song is one of the most frequently overlooked aspects of twentieth century Soviet culture. Often based on traditional or gypsy motifs, these lighthearted tunes were usually sung by Soviet gangsters or inmates about the lives of people much like themselves. Such songs were, despite predominantly being ballads about capture or death at the hands of the law, just about always humorous and fun. And yet, this style, along with that of the gypsies, never spread very far past the Iron Curtain’s borders-a fact that it seems Gogol Bordello is trying to change with their latest album, Trans-Continental Hustle
Gogol Bordello takes the blatnaya and gypsy song format and injects it with the festive punk stylings of bands such as Bomb The Music Industry, which makes the music all the more accessible and relevant to the modern listener. Trans-Continental Hustle
, which emphasizes the folk elements far more than it’s predecessors, sees the band fixing past mistakes and thus fully becoming one of contemporary punk’s most unique and powerful acts.
Most of what’s to be found on Trans-Continental Hustle
is an eclectic amalgam of violins, accordions, acoustic and electric guitars, and drums. On top of this mix, which does work surprisingly well, vocalist Eugene Hutz spits out raspy hooks in English and Russian. Hutz’s lyrics touch on everything from immigration to revolution to love, and all these themes, which are as often bleak as they are uplifting, are discussed with a matter-of-factness and humor that perfectly fits the merry music. Sure, Just because I come from Roma camp on the hill/They put me in a school for mentally ill/Opa, opa, deedeeda/All their lies about Roma
may be about anti-Roma discrimination, a serious topic, but I’ll be damned if that verse doesn’t bring a smile to my face.
Gogol Bordello’s back catalog was always brought down by the fact that their music was always relatively monochromatic. Fortunately, this is not the case with Trans-Continental Hustle
, which is the band’s most varied album. Among other things, the occasional Latin American-influenced segment, largely due to frontman Hutz’s move to Rio De Janeiro, or even tactfully-positioned bittersweet slow songs make the album anything but redundant.
is, like everything else by the band, a party. Sure, it’s a slightly
more mature party this time around, but it’s every bit as fun as before, perhaps even more so. And let’s face it, everyone loves a good party.
In The Meantime In Pernambuco
When Universes Collide