Gogol Bordello - Trans-Continental Hustle (Cover Artwork)

Gogol Bordello

Gogol Bordello: Trans-Continental HustleTrans-Continental Hustle (2010)
American Recordings

Reviewer Rating: 2.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: punkforposerspunkforposers
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I think my first memory of getting trans-continentally hustled is while on holiday with my Mum when I was young, and being accosted by a haggard gypsy woman selling magic runes on the seafront. I have since been informed that if you are met with a particularly persistent one of these nomadic saleswo.
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I think my first memory of getting trans-continentally hustled is while on holiday with my Mum when I was young, and being accosted by a haggard gypsy woman selling magic runes on the seafront. I have since been informed that if you are met with a particularly persistent one of these nomadic saleswomen, simply reply "No thank you, Auntie," and they will leave you alone. This is sort of like Romany code apparently, and indicates that you either have gypsy associates or ancestry. And therefore already own enough sodding lucky heather to stuff a mattress.

I'm pretty sure that this is exactly the same type of unintentional stereotyping that Eugene Hutz is singing about on Trans-Continental Hustle's "Break the Spell":

"You love our music but you hate our guts
And I know you still want me to ride on back of the bus

I guess he's still hung up about being foreign or something. Gogol Bordello's fifth album is partly their predictable fare, which is unpredictable and frantic Balkan dub mayhem sweating punk spirit, whilst Hutz does his best to educate the world about the rest of the world. Sadly, like waking up to find a rusty caravan on your land surrounded by mangy dogs and inbred children, something isn't completely right about the situation.

For me, Gogol Bordello have been gradually getting less exciting since I heard 2005's Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike. That album was like a revelation in terms of energy, approach and philosophy, Gogol Bordello actually being one of the few bands who gave erudite cultural and theoretical backing about capitalism and art to their eclectic chaos. But by being great, they accidentally fell victim to the biggest rock cliché of all: They were already turned up to 11, so what's next, 12?


The songwriting on Trans-Continental Hustle is technically tighter, but even a few well-executed Latin influences doesn't save this album from being underwhelming in comparison to their earlier work. There is some cool stuff: "Pala Tute" joins the dots between sex and acoustic guitar the way you could only discover with a bottle of vodka and a violin, while "Sun on My Side" is morbidly carnivalesque. "Last One Goes the Hope" shows they still have subversive folky punk potential, and their live experience consistently proves they are one of the most unique and joyous bands of my generation. But overall, this album is not that exhilarating at all. I blame one thing:


Gogol Bordello have been downhill ever since they appeared on stage with her at Live Earth. If they were trying to promote multiculturalism by appearing in front of a large audience, that one musically catastrophic event probably unintentionally set Romany rights back to 1939. And almost rightfully so. Vocalizing the authenticity of diversity and simultaneously whoring their heritage is where we find Gogol Bordello at the moment, and sadly it makes the band feel more like a media curiosity than the revolution I'm sure they were meant to be.

I think back to my gypsy of memory, who when offered several coins in exchange for her runes replied: "Paper money is good, dear." Perhaps it's no coincidence that this is Gogol Bordello's major label debut? I suppose it doesn't really matter, because this time neither the message nor the music really resonate with me. And it's at this point that I'd like to say that if you think I'm being intentionally insensitive, then please remember that I find few things to be more culturally offensive than Madonna. It is therefore with diplomatic immunity that I, as a fan of the band, deem Trans-Continental Hustle to be as frustrating and useless as a small a tuft of lucky heather.

Another album like this? No thank you, Auntie.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Problematiclogic (June 30, 2010)

If it's any consolation, I did enjoy reading what you wrote!

punkforposers (June 30, 2010)

@Problematiclogic- You‚??ve got a good point about messageboards, I find it much more useful than a review to sample different biases from different people. I often find music by word of mouth and my friends, not by browsing reviews for what are essentially still personal opinions, just written as if they‚??re an authority and littered with ultimately subjective descriptions.

Plus, I did say what some of the songs sounded like, I just thought it was more informative to emphasise their context. If no one had heard of this band, I would do my best to describe their sound, but this is Gogol Bordello and a two month old album.

But yeah, why bother having reviews? Unless they‚??re fun to read.

Problematiclogic (June 30, 2010)

I'd rather have a reviewer talking about the songs, you know "reviewing" the music. If I wanted some personal opinion on the band themselves I'd go on their messageboard or something. If the argument is that you can easily download the album and see for yourself then why bother having reviews at all? Not everyone wants to go to the effort of downloading for every single band they hear about somewhere.

Cos (June 30, 2010)

American Records is a major--its part of Sony BMG.

MN_DrNick (June 30, 2010)

It's not that bad of an album, but not the best that they've done.

nick_s (June 30, 2010)

I'd rather have a review that looks at the album as a whole than each individual song described to me in painstaking detail. If i'm that interested I'd get the album.

On the final point, blame Madonna for everything.....

rosshostage (June 30, 2010)

"Sadly, like waking up to find a rusty caravan on your land surrounded by mangy dogs and inbred children, something isn't completely right about the situation."

I think this negates your statement about Eugene Hutz's "unintentional stereotyping".

Also, is American Recordings really a major label?

XchinatownX (June 29, 2010)

When I was 10 years old, I recall being obsessed about a Madonna video that constantly played on MuchMusic in which I thought her nipples were visible through her top.

655321 (June 29, 2010)

I liked the review and agree with the score. "Underwhelming" sums it up. I definitely don't need a reivewer to walk me through each song.

punkforposers (June 29, 2010)

I wrote the review, so I thought I‚??d respond to a few comments...

overdefined got it spot on- do you guys actually read these reviews to learn what an album sounds like, when you could download it and hear it just as quickly? I‚??m not being a dick, I‚??m actually curious if people still care what a reviewer thinks of something?

I was disappointed in the album, so I wanted to give some insight into why I thought the way I did and make it entertaining rather than just list information. Fair comment, maybe I should have put in a little more about the songs. I usually do.

As for Madonna, when a lot of people who didn‚??t know the band saw them perform with her they probably just thought ‚??oh cool, weird gypsies‚??. That‚??s the risk they take as they gain a larger audience, so that‚??s what I used to take the piss out of the album. No higher motive or vendetta.

nedsammy (June 29, 2010)

reviewer: you could focus on the music more, rather than being "weird" about romany people.

ashtraymonument (June 29, 2010)

I like this album way better than Super Taranta

and do explain what you mean about the Madonna sillliness setting back Romani rights

cherrycolarain (June 29, 2010)

I blame Madonna for most things.

overdefined (June 29, 2010)

I liked this review. With the ease of sampling music on the internet, talking about what an "album sounds like" is less important than placing its importance in the context of right now or in the context of a career. I'm not saying it's not important, but it's not the most important thing. Also, just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean it's a bad review.

Michael_Berryman (June 29, 2010)

what the hell? i thought Super Taranta was fantastic. i was also expecting this album to blow it out of the water with Rick Rubin at the helm, but it sort of just stayed the course, which is fine. it's a great album.

Cos (June 29, 2010)

* playFUL MCing

Cos (June 29, 2010)

I'd agree that this album is disappointing in comparison to Gypsy Punks. But then, everything this band has done is disappointing in comparison to that album. That album is something special.

A fairer comparison is something like Super Taranta. Trans-Continental Hustle is light years better in that respect. The songs aren't as exciting as they used to be--you could hear the excitement in Eugene's voice and playing, like he was finally discovering his voice and how excited he was about it. Now that he has, he's trying to figure out how to use it. Preachiness on "Break The Spell" is definitely annoying, but this album has more than enough special moments on it (and nothing nearly as embarrassing as "American Wedding") to get me excited. And happily their live shows are still great and feature a lot more of Pedro Erazo's playing MCing than the albums do.

Good review, but I could do without the exposition about Madonna and gypsies. And if this record is "not all that exhilarating," I'd blame Rick Rubin instead.

Rastid (June 29, 2010)

i kind of liked that song that went "we comin' rougher every time!"... i feel like i kind of like one song on each of their albums....

PunkCDSampler (June 29, 2010)

Horrible review. This album is hella fun, and at the very least better than Super Taranta!

Problematiclogic (June 29, 2010)

I realise you have a personal vendetta against Madonna, but next time could you spend more than a paragraph talking about the music that is on the record you're reviewing? Thanks.

blip (June 29, 2010)

pretty good.

wearestillalive (June 29, 2010)

I say that about W/IFS too, but my friends refuse to see why I make the comparison.

XchinatownX (June 29, 2010)

The World/Inferno Friendship Society are so much better at everything than this band.

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