Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 28: Gogol Bordello, "Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike"

Artist: Gogol Bordello
Album: Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike
Year: 2005
Label: USA Side 1 Dummy


From time to time, a band comes along that simply defies description. They usually present something so amazingly unique that it is impossible to push them into any pre-existing musical genre. Pulling influences from bands like Einst├╝rzende Neubauten to Bob Marley to anything Nick Cave ever touched, gypsy-punks Gogol Bordello crate some of the most original music in decades. Their debut record, Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike is a refreshing musical journey that appeals to anyone, regardless of musical preference.

Frontman Eugene Hutz brings the influence and experience of living all over eastern Europe as a refugee after being evicted from Russia following the Chernobyl disaster. The result of these varied backgrounds come through in the eclectic feel throughout Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike. Gogol Bordello takes the high energy, forceful vocal stylings of punk rock and combines it with traditional gypsy instruments (fiddles, accordions, etc) and the result is pure musical brilliance. The record is amazingly addictive and it is perhaps due to the fact that this diverse medley of musical styles appeals to something in everyone.

Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike is one of the most beautifully chaotic musical recordings ever. When the traditional feel of fiddle-based jigs smash up against revolution-themed lyrics being sung with the fury of punk rock, it creates an irresistibly addictive sound. While at times, the record is a SKA-heavy skank-fest, it quickly shifts to an equally impressive hip-hop/reggae party and then into an all out punk explosion. When Gogol Bordello brings all of these influences, it is clear that, much like their gypsy heritage, their music is truly a mash-up of countless musical styles from over the decades.

The albums' title pretty much explains a majority of the lyrics found throughout the record. The songs speak of issues of coming to America, clashes of cultures, and many are anthems for the less fortunate in society. This is where, once again, the "gypsy" influence is quite clear. Whether they are writing about living in the slums or trying to find a job, all of the songs have an amazingly universal feel to them and in many cases, it is nearly impossible to NOT sing along. At the same time, all of the lyrics are backed by bouncing, upbeat music and many times, this juxtaposition leaves the listener in awe of the groups' undeniable talent.

Whether the songs are being sung in English or a host of other languages, the songs throughout Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike are extremely catchy and you will find yourself singing along after just a few listenings. Gogol Bordello truly makes music like no other group in history has ever created. Staying true to their roots, they combine countless genres and influences and mash them together into a sound that is fantastically unique. Though the truth is, each of their four records are equally brilliant, Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike is the perfect introduction to a group and sound that everyone must experience.



Standout tracks: "Immigrant Punk," "Start Wearing Purple," and "Undestructable."

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