Archive for the ‘Gogol Bordello’ Category


As on October 1, NPR has started the Tiny Desk Playlist page.

As of today there are 9 Playlists on the page.  I’m not going to comment on them, as I’ve already posted about all of these shows (except CHAI as of now).  I might disagree with some of these lists, but whatever the case they are a good introduction to Tiny Desks if you haven’t already seen one.

5 Tiny Desk Concerts That Will Literally Make You Cry
• Julien Baker (read more)
• Yusuf/Cat Stevens (read more)
• Bernie and The Believers (read more)
• Rev. Sekou and The Seal Breakers (read more)
• Barbara Hannigan (read more)

The 5 Most Uplifting Tiny Desk Concerts
• Lizzo (read more)
• Superorganism (read more)
• Fragile Rock (read more)
• Dan Deacon (read more)
• Mucca Pazza (read more)

The 5 Wildest Tiny Desk Concerts
• Gogol Bordello (read more)
• Red Baraat (read more)
• The Cristina Pato Trio (read more)
• George Li (read more)
• Dirty Three (read more)

The Best-Sounding Tiny Desk Concerts, Vol. 1 [selected by “the guy mixing the performances and bopping his head along just off (and sometimes on) screen” Josh Rogosin].
• Monsieur Periné (read more)
• Andrew Bird (read more)
• Nick Hakim (read more)
• Tedeschi Trucks Band (read more)
• PJ Morton (read more)

The Best Of The Very Beginning Of Tiny Desk Concerts
• Laura Gibson (read more)
• Vic Chesnutt (read more)
• Tom Jones (read more)
• Thao Nguyen (read more)
• Dr. Dog (read more)

The 5 Best ‘Before They Were Stars’ Tiny Desk Concerts
• Brandi Carlile (read more)
• Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals (read more)
• Adele (read more)
• H.E.R. (read more)
• Mitski (read more)

Tiny Desk Trick Or Treat: Our 5 Favorite Concerts In Costume
• Neko Case’s Halloween Special (read more)
• Blue Man Group (read more)
• Mucca Pazza (read more)
• CHAI (read more)
• Preservation Hall Jazz Band (read more)

#ElTiny: The Best Latinx Tiny Desk Concerts, Vol. 1
• Natalia Lafourcade (read more)
• Jorge Drexler (read more)
• Juanes & Mon Laferte (read more)
• iLe (read more)
• Café Tacvba (read more)

Lianne La Havas’ 5 Favorite Tiny Desk Concerts
• Tank And The Bangas
• Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
• Noname
• Tamino
• Mac Miller

[READ: October 28, 2019] “God’s Caravan”

This story opens with boys crouching in the dirt shooting marbles.  I assumed it was set in the 1950s, so I was surprised to see that the boy knew of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk.  But it is set in Memphis, Tennessee–“Soulsville the black part.”

Earl was kicking butt and winning marbles left and right when the boys heard an ice cream truck trundle up.  But this was no ice cream truck.  Rather it was a van and it was playing “I’ve come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee.”  On the side of the van, painted in “blood of Jesus” red were the words “God’s Caravan.”  The speakers then broadcast “When I say, ‘Ride or die’…you say ‘Amen.'”

The voice said “Ride or Die” and Earl and the other boys all shouted back “Amen.”

The door opened and there was the pastor, dressed in black judge’s robes.  He said he had sweets for their hearts. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 7, 2016] Gogol Bordello

2016-04-07 22.47.46It was two years ago that I saw Gogol Bordello and I put them on my list of bands to see again–their live show was that much fun.  So they played two nights at Union Transfer.  I chose the first night (Thursday rather than Friday) although I’m not exactly sure why.  I think it turned out to be the right choice because Friday night’s show sold out and if my show was intense, I can’t imagine what a sold out show is like.

This show was part of their tenth anniversary tour.  Not ten years since the band formed, but ten years since their first big album, Gypsy Punks (which was recorded by Steve Albini!).  And their plan was to play that entire album, and some other songs.  I only found out about this entire album thing a few days ago.  It turns out that it’s the GB album I don’t own (I don’t own their earlier ones either), so I had to quickly scramble to see what songs were on it.  Well, it turns out that most of those songs have been played live or appeared elsewhere, so I knew a pretty good amount of them.  Phew.

They came out to roars from the crowd and they launched right into the lead off track from the album.  “Sally” features some intense screaming from one of the women in the band, and one of the women came out and supplied it for the song.  And I knew that this set was going to be a lot of fun. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 7, 2016] Xylouris White

xylourisI saw Gogol Bordello a few years ago and the show was fantastic.  For many bands, seeing them once is enough, but for GB, I had to see them again.  So I was pretty psyched that they were going to play at Union Transfer an excellent club in Philly.

When I looked on their site, they said that the opening act was going to be Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas.  I checked out their stuff and it was good.  But that must have been for a previous tour, because when I got there, the listed opening act was Xylouris White.  I couldn’t even imagine what that meant, much less how to say it.

So imagine my surprise when the band came out and it was a guy (with crazy hair) on drums and then a guy with crazier hair and a big beard on what turned out to be a Cretan lute.  And that was it. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 21, 2014] Gogol Bordello

I 2014-07-21 21.03.53 first heard Gogol Bordello on a PBS music show (I assume it was Austin City Limits, but I can’t find any record of them being on the show).  I didn’t know anything about them, but I was really impressed by what I saw.  Since then I’ve bought a few records, and have enjoyed all of their appearances on NPR shows, but it was after watching the DVD that came with Live from Axis Mundi that I knew this was a band I wanted to see live.  So I was totally psyched that they were coming to the tiny Starland Ballroom.

Now I will say that they were not as exciting here as in the video.  That is due to a couple of things.  The first is that the club in the video was much bigger, allowing them to do a lot more.  The second is that in the video they had direct access to the audience, unlike at Starland so lead singer Eugene Hutz was able to go into the crowd in the video, as were the two dancers (suspended aloft on giant bass drums).  In Starland, they all stayed on the stage (although they did move all over it) and the two dancers have been replaced by one who was excellent but did not climb onto a drum at all).

Comparisons aside, Gogol Bordello put on a pretty amazing show. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 21, 2014] Man Man

I went to the Starland Ballroom to see Gogol Bordello, but I was pretty excited that Man Man was opening.  I really only knew them from three things.  Their fairly popular (at least on WXPN) song “Head On [Hold On To Your Heart]” a synthy treacly delight (that really belies the bands manic energy) and “Paul’s Grotesque” a newer song (for XPN) that I didn’t actually realize was Man Man.  And, third, and most compelling, was their video for “Black Mission Goggle” live at Amoeba Records (which you can see at the bottom of the post).  In it they proved to be immensely silly and yet still quite talented.  And I love a band who can put on a show (which is why I wanted to see Gogol Bordello in the first place).

And Man Man did not disappoint.  The four piece came out on stage, with Brown Sugar, the bassist/Schatzaphone/percussionist/malletKAT player on the right side, Pow Pow, the drummer (whose kit was sideways), right in the middle and Shono Murphy the guitarist/trumpeter/percussionist on the left.  After playing an instrumental opening, Honus Honus, singer, keyboards and all around head honcho came out in a glorious cape, looking like Dave Grohl when he’s most possessed. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: OS MUTANTES-“Fool Metal Jack” (2013).

Iosmut have known about Os Mutantes for years.  I never knew anything about them (and never really understood their name–although now that I have been working with Brazilian books at work I realize that their name is Portuguese for The Mutants (it was the Os that always threw me off).  I had no idea that a) they’d been around since the 60s and were part of the psychedelic scene or b) that they were still around (after some breakups and with a largely new lineup) or c) that they sang in English (which they do on several songs on this album) or d) that their new album kicked so much ass.

The album is called Fool Metal Jack and it is a fantastic mixture of fast heavy rock, Brazilian traditional sounds, what I assume are Native Brazilian chants and a heavy dose of weirdness.  All wrapped up in an anti-war stance, like on this track “Fool Metal Jack.”

A creepy, distorted  bassline introduces this song which sounds like the guy from Gogol Bordello singing a Tom Waits march.  It’s about a soldier in the middle of a war.  The bridge means more voices come in, bringing in an even more disorienting sound.  And the chorus chanted “Yes.  No More War” completes the song.  By the time the wailing guitar solo comes in the chants of “This is the war of hell” have even more impact.

This stomping song was a great introduction to this band who I now need to explore further.

[READ: April 18. 2013] The Last Interview

I enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut’s “Last Interview” and since I had always intended to read Bolaño’s I was delighted to see that our library had it.  Bolaño is a fascinating interview subject because you never really know what he is going to say.  There are even serious questions about the veracity of his life story which many people believe he fabricated for more dramatic effect.

But the one thing that is absolutely consistent about Bolaño is that he always praises writers whom he respects (and will trash those he doesn’t, although that seems to come more from the interviewer’s  instigation (not that he needs a lot).    So the last interview that he did is the one from Mexican Playboy which has been collected in Between Parentheses.  But the other three are earlier and, it seems, a little more “truthful” or at least less naughty-seeming.

What’s fascinating about this book is that the introduction by Marcela Valdes (“Alone Among the Ghosts”) is over 30 pages long!  The article originally appeared in The Nation on Dec 8, 2008 (read it here).  As such it’s not an introduction to this book, it’s introduction for English readers to Bolaño circa 2666.  And it’s a great read.  It is primarily about 2666, which Valdes has read many times.  She goes into interesting depth about the story but mostly she relates it to Bolaño’s own experiences while writing the book.  It focuses especially on his research about the real murders.  His interest was genuine and he sought help from a reporter who was doing genuinely decent work (ie. not accepting the word of the state about what was going on).

Bolaño has said he wished he was a detective rather than a writer, which explains The Savage Detectives and Woes of the True Policeman.  But Valdes also points out how almost all of his shorter novels have some kind of detective work involved–seeking someone who is lost or hiding.  The article was really great and is worth a read for anyone interested in Bolaño, whether you have read him or not. (more…)

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I’ve heard a lot of live music from Gogol Bordello (from NPR and on Live at Axis Mundi).  And quite a lot of those songs come from this album (they had a few years of down time between this record and their release from 2010).  It’s always fun to hear an album for the first time when you know live versions of the songs pretty well.    And of course, it’s always weird to hear the songs that you don’t know  (I guess they weren’t popular?)

But even if I didn’t know most of the songs already, this is a great album and a great introduction to the manic energy that is Gogol Bordello.  While it’s true that they are best represented live, this album is very well produced and mixed and really showcases the kind of insanity that Eugene and crew can get up to.

And there’s not a bum song on the record.

When I first played this in the house, Sarah  found it way to hyper, and I can appreciate that.  Gogol Bordello literally never stop.  Their songs are full of a combination of punk and gypsy–a ton  of energy.  And mostly, it is directed at fun and overcoming difficulties.  Eugene Hütz is not very angry although he certainly has things to complain about.  But mostly he is  singing for justice (and alcohol).

The album opens with Hütz singing a somewhat quiet intro before HA! and the punk comes rumbling  in.  There’s a prominent violin, fast acoustic guitars, and accordion and some really intense drums.  I never noticed the drums as much as I did on this record.  In a couple of tracks the drums seem to never stop, even as the melody slows down–and it still sound s good.

There’s some screaming elements, some gypsy keening  and a tribute to “Alcohol.”  In most  live versions of “Alcohol,” I find the ace too slow, but it sounds great here.   Some other highlights are “American Wedding,” “Wonderlust King,”  “Harem in Tuscany” (which has some great gypsy stylings).  And for a change of pace (as if there weren’t enough interesting things on this record), “Dub the  Frequencies of Love” introduces some reggae into the mix.

Hütz  is a great front man.      He is full of energy and excitement and his accented singing style is really great–passionate if not very conventional.

Oh, and the cover shows the band’s backing vocalists with fire buckets on their feet because he plays them live.  A tuneful racket indeed.

[READ: April 13, 2012] Hot Pink

I have yet to read Adam Levin’s The Instructions (it’s over 1,000 pages, so I’ve been putting it off).  But I was glad to get this collection fo short stories so I could see what his writing is all about.

Hot Pink is a collection of ten short stories.  I really enjoyed a couple of them.  I was a little confused by a couple of them and one or two I had a hard time getting through.

“Frankenwittgenstein” reminded me a lot of a George Saunders story although it goes in a very different direction.  In the story the narrator’s dad sees a special on bulimia and decides to build a doll. Bonnie: The Beautiful Body-Action Doll for the Self-Body Image-Enhancement of Toddling and Preadolescent Girls at Risk.  The dad is quite clever and makes a digestive system that actually works!  And so he markets the doll to a toy company.

They want changes made.  Over and over.  For years.  And the dad makes them and goes slowly insane.  It’s funny but not crazy funny (like George Saunders), and the conclusion is fairly satisfying. (more…)

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