Imagine a crazed gypsy violinist (like Peter Sellers on the Muppets?) lost in the middle of a punk-rock festival. By the time he staggers out, he's infected with the music.
That's about the sound of Gogol Bordello, who recently broke out with their latest album. Before that album, however, came the feisty EP "East Infection," with a rollicking string of infectious gypsy-folk-punk songs, raw singing and lots of explosive energy. This is a good kind of "infectious."
It kicks off with the jagged spunkiness of the title track, with Eugene Hutz shouting somewhat incoherently over the raw music.... right before the song slows down, to allow Andra Ursuta to coo "leeleeleeleelee... lalalalala!" over and over. Whhooooaaaaaaa....
They briefly veer into accordion folk, very nice and low-key... before launching into the fiddle avalanche of "Mala Vida" and the sinister dark punk of "Copycat." The EP gets rounded off with two more songs: a driving rock song, and a slower, softer bit of gypsy music. It's a nice way to end it.
Basically, "East Infection" is a good place to start off with Gogol Bordello -- it's got the traditional tunes and the punky music, and the band goes all the way from one extreme to the other. And at the end of the EP, if it's your kind of music, you'll be left desperately wanting more.
Eugene Hutz has the sort of raw, howling, lightning-quick voice that most punk-rockers would sacrifice a vocal chord to have. Except I suspect that it comes to him naturally. And whatever does he sing? "My strange uncles from abroad/yes I never met'em!/but I took everything they wrote/and I'll never forget 'em!"
And their actual music is just as weird as their lyrics. It's a big melting pot of instruments -- the fiddle, accordion, and some wickedly nimble basslines and riffs that make you want to leap up and dance. I think I even heard a xylophone somewhere in the mix.
Whether an introduction to Gogol Bordello, or just another of their high-octane creations, "East Infection" is thoroughly insane and utterly danceable.