8 June 2009

Gogol Bordello

Gypsy Punks
Side One Dummy, 2005

Occasionally you just want to write about a band of gypsy punks. Gogol Bordello are a group of Eastern European agitators from the lower east side of New York who dress up in ridiculous costumes, play a mix of folk and punk and boast about taking over America. If you've seen the no-wave documentary Kill Your Idols, you might remember the band's enigmatic singer Eugene Hutz alongside the other humorous standouts – groupie turned grumpy singer Lydia Lunch and those two hedonistic dickheads from A.R.E. Weapons. Hutz was the one dressed like a cartoon carny, who offered a brilliant riposte to this decade's recycling of 1980s fashion: "Sure, it might seem like a good theme for a party on Saturday night, but you wouldn't want to base a cultural revolution on it."

Clearly, in Hutz’s opinion, that revolution would be much better handled by the gypsies. There's a song saying so on Gypsy Punks. In fact, there's ten of them. Of the other three songs, two are about parties and purple clothes and one is instrumental. It's not quite clear how seriously Hutz takes himself (it certainly is hard to as a listener), but you can hardly fault his good intentions, spat out in faulty grammar like a pissed-off ESL student: "I'm gathering new generation/ That's gonna stand up to it/ To this karaoke dictatorship!/ I make a better rock revolution alone with my DICK!" Take THAT, poseurs! That THAT, NME! Pow, wham!

The best songs on Gypsy Punks are meant for partying and, like everything about the band, they announce themselves fairly loudly. 'Dogs Were Barking' is a raucous Eastern European wedding celebration, while 'Oh No' documents a neighbourhood party made all the better by an electricity blackout – when it turns all bucket-drums, acoustic guitar and frolicking revellers. The last track, 'Mishto!', is a blistering cover of a traditional folk violin piece, heavy on the kick-drum, that sounds something like a novelty cousin of one of The Dirty Three's more thunderous numbers (in a good way, I promise). Normally I'd try to offer some witty insight at the end of this column, but, well, Gogol Bordello really do just sound like a childish Ukranian punk band playing folk covers. Which is why I love them.

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