What do you get when you take a Ukrainian signer/guitarist, a Russian fiddler, a Russian accordionist, an Israeli guitarist, an Ethiopian bassist, an American drummer, an Ecuadorian MC/rapper/percussionist and two Asian-American back-up signers/percussionists and put them in Brazil while writing an album? You get "Trans-Continental Hustle" by Gogol Bordello, which might be the most appropriately titled album since Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." TCH is Gogol Bordello's fifth studio album and first since joining up with producer Rick Rueben and Columbia Records. I started listening to Gogol after their last album came out in the summer of 2007 and over the past two years I have seen them live six times. They are more well known for their theatrical live performances and gained attention after former Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello called them "the best band in the world." I have seen them twice in Philadelphia, twice in New York City, once in Boston and once at Hampton Beach and I swear they get better with every show. Since 2006 they have played around 200 live shows... a year!
When I first heard their studio work I wasn't sure what to think but after my first live show I realized I would never see a better concert. I realized I was wrong after seeing them again... only they can top themselves live. Just watch this video of their performance on Jools Holland, a BBC music show from across the pond. Small stages and TV appearance can't control them and they instantly win over the audience.
Trans-Continental Hustle is set to be released on April 27th, the day before they play at Boston's House of Blues. It can currently be streamed for free off the band's myspace page and I think this is by far Gogol's most complete album. It has everything from slow soulful performances to rapid punk songs. Over the years the band has grown musically thanks to the passion of lead man Eugene Hutz who's rough voice perfectly fits the bands style. Hutz, who plays a nylon string accoustic guitar, sings of his past, of freedom and of hope. Born in Ukraine, Hutz and his parents were forced to relocate following the Chernobyl meltdown. For a few years they spent time living in refugee camps across Eastern Europe until immigrating to Vermont and eventually settling in New York City, which the band considers their home. They call their genre "Gypsy Punk" do to Hutz's Romani background.
If any of these songs even slightly spark your interest I highly recommend you attend their up coming show in Boston. I promise it will be an experience like no other.
Stay classy, not Umassy.