September 03, 2013
Several years ago, my husband told me about a band with a strange name and a Ukrainian front man. He was excited about this, you see, because my husband is half Ukrainian. Well, we started listening to this band and were completely blown away by their sound! They quickly became one of our favorites.
So, the strange name of this band, you ask? Gogol Bordello. Gogol, as in Nikolai Gogol, the classical Ukrainian-Russian writer who "smuggled" Ukrainian culture into Russian society (which the band intends to do with Gypsy/East-European music in the English-speaking world). Bordello, as in the Italian word for um, well, I'll let you figure that one out on your own!
The members (there are at least eight) of Gogol Bordello represent many different nationalities. Eugene Hutz (born in Kiev as Yevheniy Aleksandrovich Nikolayev-Simonov, but later used his mother's German maiden name Hutz), the Ukrainian front man/acoustic guitarist, shares the stage with a Russian violinist, a Chinese and Scottish dancer/percussionist, a Belarusian accordionist, an Ethiopian bassist, an Ecuadorian MC/percussionist, an American guitarist, and an American drummer. This melting pot of cultures and unusual instruments (for a "rock" band, anyway) lends itself to a unique and wonderful sound.
Gogol Bordello's style is classified as Gypsy punk. This is a hybrid musical genre that crosses traditional Romani music with punk rock. My mother-in-law said it is reminiscent of the music her mother listened to, without the punk rock, of course! My husband found an old record in our basement that belonged to his baba (this is what he and his siblings called their grandma). When we played it (Yeah, we still play records, man! We're groovy that way.), we definitely heard the influence this type of music had on bands like Gogol Bordello. When I listen to them, I can't help but get up and dance. Their sound is incredibly intoxicating! They also put on one heck of a live show. We got to experience this awesomeness a few years back at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City. I was out of my seat for their entire set snappin' and clappin' and kickin' around!
Gogol Bordello just released their sixth studio album, Pura vida Conspiracy. I have been listening to it for days, and it totally rules! If you aren't familiar with this band, I highly recommend giving them a listen. You can borrow their fourth album, Super Taranta!, from MCPL. There are also some great live tracks and the EP, East Infection, is on Freegal. And, if you happen to become a fan (or not), check out their website!