How many of you have listened to someone tell you, "Aw, you just gotta see 'em live to appreciate them"? I know I've said that before. And I think I've heard more than one person say it in regard to Gogol Bordello, the popular "gypsy punk" band.
I've never seen G.B., but I hear they put on a hell of a show, with a stage jam-packed with musicians and a display of anarchic theatricality centered on G.B.'s wild-haired, mustachioed singer (that's him pictured at right on the cover of Gogol Bordello's new record).
I suppose I should go see them sometime to see what the fuss is all about. Because, frankly, this record bored the hell out of me.
By track five, I thought to myself, "When is this thing gonna be over?" And it's not even that it's terrible music; it's that the novelty wears off real fast -- especially on the heels of my listening to the new record by Broken Social Scene the day before. Impressively, no two songs among the 14 songs on B.S.S.' Forgiveness Rock Record sounded alike. By contrast, nearly each song on G.B.'s Trans-Continental Hustle sounded just like the one before it.
I liked a lot of the record's lyrics, which manage to place listeners in far-off global locales and seem to tell stories about the band's own vast travels. But they also touch on more universal subject matter, with a hint of the inspirational ("What was here is gone now / Up and down like everyone / But when the sun comes up / It will be on your side"). And I particularly liked the first verse of "Raise the Knowledge": "Revolution is internal / Help yourself at any time / Evolution isn't over / no no no no, no no no no / We are about to use our mind."
Fittingly, there's a song seemingly written just for us, in our splintered Arizona, called "Immigraniada (We're Comin' Rougher)." Check out this verse: "But if you give me the invitation / To hear the bells of freedom chime / To hell with your double standards / We're coming rougher every time." Rousing stuff, and one of the few highlights on Trans-Continental Hustle.
In concert, after a few beers? Okay, I can see why Gogol Bordello has managed to successfully stick around for so long. I can picture this band whipping a drunken crowd into a chanting, dancing frenzy. But not even the production of the usually sure-handed Rick Rubin can turn Gogol Bordello from a must-see band to a must-hear band.
Best song: "Immigraniada (We're Coming Rougher)"
Deja vu: "Those were the days my friends, we thought they'd never end . . ."
I'd rather listen to: The incredible music of Carl Stalling
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.