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Published: 2010/08/30
by Jen Stevens

Gogol Bordello
Trans-Continental Hustle


While in the live setting Gogol Bordello is a hard act to follow, the group’s collection of recorded works has sometimes struggled to represent this same ferocious energy. With Gogol Bordello’s fifth album Trans-Continental Hustle, and its blend of upbeat, anthem-like songs, the group has delivered its best album yet. Producer Rick Rubin, who has worked with Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Petty, to name a few, has helped Gogol Bordello finally capture some of their live energy and verve in the studio setting.

The founding members of Gogol Bordello met at a Russian wedding in Vermont in 1998. In 1999 the group of “gypsy punks” officially formed in the Lower East Side of New York City, which they consider home. The nine members of the band come from all over the world, from Russia to the Ukraine, all the way to Israel and Ecuador. Lead vocalist Eugene Hutz, who also plays the acoustic guitar was born in Kiev, Ukraine and moved to the US in 1991. Sergey Ryabtsev, who plays violin and backs Hutz on vocals, moved to the US in 1994 but was originally born in Russia. Oren Kaplan, born in Israel, moved to the US in 1996 and now plays guitar for Gogol Bordello. Accordion player Yuri Lemeshev was born in Russia as well and moved to the US in 1989. Thomas Gobena is the bass player for Gogol Bordello and was born in Ethiopia. MC and percussionist Pedro Erazo was born in Ecuador and moved to the US in 1995. Backing vocalist and percussionist Elizabeth Chi-Wei Sun comes from a Hong Kong, Chinese descent and moved to the US in 1999. Pamela Jintana Racine has a mother from Thailand and a father from Vermont she is also a back up vocalist and percussionist. Drummer, Oliver Francis Charles, has a mother of Italian and Swedish decent and a father from Trinidad and Tobago.

Despite recording on a major label with such a famed producer and recording for a major label, front man, Eugene Hutz and Gogol Bordello have remained true to their spirit. “Pala Tute” is an energetic opening to the album, utilizing traditional instrumentation yet delivering a clear, modern sound. “Sun Is On My Side,” a personal favorite, starts off with an acoustic guitar strumming, the soft sound of the accordion and a mellow chorus that chimes in between each verse. As the song goes on the beat picks up and the intensity grows in Hutz’s voice. “When Universes Collide” builds on a raging violin and unrestrained accordion to deliver a message about inspiring people to stay positive during hard times. In “Last One Goes The Hope.” Hutz’s rugged voice is full of expression, while singing lyrics like “Unstoppable fire of my tongue and the path ahead that’s long, will get me at the end where I belong,” which suggests he will continue to stand on his own, pursue his vision and speak what’s on his mind.

Gogol Bordello cannot be easily categorized. Yet however one describes their gypsy-folk-punk sound, it’s clear that it has taken on a new clarity and power with Trans-Continental Hustle.

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