April 15, 2010

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Gogol Bordello, Trans-Continental Hustle
Columbia Records, April 27

Let’s get the spitball out of the way first: BORAT. If that isn’t obvious enough as to what this New York troupe evokes, we should skim over the slightly misleading label “gypsy punk” and inform the curious but uninitiated that gypsy punk doesn’t revolve around Ramones guitars; it’s accordions, fiddles, and things that work with accordions and fiddles, which, yes, include sugar-shocked, punky drums.

It’s Ukrainian immigrant Eugene Hütz’ job to front the band in fine crazy-mustachioed style, hoarsely singing in his Borat accent about girls who love kissin’ (“Pala Tute”), kissed girls who have mysteriously run off with other guys (“Companjera”) and, oi, let’s mess up the great worldwide mess once and for all with a way overdue revolution (“Raise the Knowledge,” pronounced as “rise the knowledge,” a non sequitur bettered later in “Last One Goes the Hope”). Hairy armpits, wackiness, theatrics, sobbing loony angst, and such, and did I mention Borat? You can practically smell the schnapps-fumed corpse-breath, like Smell-O-Vision.

This one’s a most unusual grower, or was for me. I gave it a listen a month ago and basically wasn’t going to recommend it except as pure joke music, but upon further review there’s an odd power to this melodic swill of rabbit borscht, i.e. I approve of these messages, whatever they are. AEric W. Saeger