Monday, November 16, 2009

Top 50 Albums of the 00s - #41: Gogol Bordello - Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike

Yep, we're counting down the top 50. Click here for overview and criteria.

I'm pretty sure this is all a joke. The group, the album the clothes. Everything. But don't tell that to anyone in the band. Well, maybe they're just drunk. I'm not telling them that, either. The goal is apparently one part punk rock, one part Eastern Bloc rebellion, and HBO's Carnivàle. Technically, frontman Eugene Hütz is from the Ukraine, so that lends some authenticity to the zaniness employed on Gypsy Punks, Gogol Bordello's breakthrough album.

This album starts out so wildly aggressive, you know there's no way it's going to hold together. It actually starts simply enough. It's fast and weird with bizarre instrumentation for punk rock. Strings and accordions and lord knows what else. We finally arrive at Track 3, "Not a Crime" and find some purpose. The rustic old-world routine stays in place, but we're not simply flailing as fast as we can. It suddenly has gotten interesting. Almost a bit serious.

The album continues in an amusing fashion until we get to the real keepers. "Start Wearing Purple" is one of the greatest anthems I've ever heard. It is exuberant but not without intent, even if I can't find any real meaning in the lyrics. Even Yahoo! coopting the tune in their commercials has done nothing to ruin it. It may be the most fun song you will ever hear.

Soon after, we arrive at the title track: "Underdog World Strike." Whoever was in charge made a huge mistake because this would have made for a fantastic opener. You want to listen to this song with friends - all of your friends - and bounce off the walls together. Instead of leading off, it is basically the last great salvo before we devolve into more disarray with the final few tracks. Sometimes a band makes a song that basically sums up their entire purpose. For Gogol Bordello, this is definitely their song.

When it comes down to it, the band a one trick pony, but one that at least knows variations on the theme. And that's plenty for one record. Like I said, I'm pretty sure it's all a joke. In a way I can't believe I have it this high on the list. But what can I say? I'm the kind of guy that likes to hear the same jokes over and over again. And this one always gives me a wide grin.

Previous Entries:
#42 - Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy
#43 - Ladyhawk - Ladyhawk
#44 - José González - In Our Nature
#45 - Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
#46 - Caribou - Andorra
#47 - Mastodon - Crack the Skye
#48 - Shout Out Louds - Howl Howl Gaff Gaff
#49 - At the Drive-In: Relationship of Command
#50 - Rival Schools: United by Fate

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