This CD is a recent release by a wild and crazy Montreal-based folk punk group, that I learned about from our local musical-literary-theatrical-comedic-social justice guru Geoff Berner. Their music harkens back to the underground cultures of Eastern Europe between WW1 and WW2 and mixes Klezmer, Rebetika, Romani, and other folk dance music traditions. Their main power comes from a dynamic vocalist (Giselle Claudia Webber) who seems to channel a doppelganger Shane McGowan from alternatively Warsaw, Istanbul, Odessa, or the slums of Thessaloniki. She sings with passion and abandon in a huge array of languages (from Yiddish, to Turkish, to Greek, to Spanish, etc) and makes the listener believe that at any specific moment she is singing in her native tongue.
The driving musical foundation here is lead evenly by various parts of this 10 piece ( 2 violins, electric guitar, accordion, clarinet, tuba, sousaphone, trumpet, trombone, bass, and drums) gender balanced band. Some songs are rooted in the driving electric scream of a surf guitar (remember that Dick Dale had Lebanese heritage, and that “Misirlou” is a Macedonian folk tune), others in a crazed, close to out-of-control klezmer (clarinet-accordion-violin) pulse. Think of that Geoff Berner / Aram Bajakian / David Krakauer/ Brass Band collaboration I keep hoping for, or the type of band that you might find playing in some backroom at a Tom Waits house party.
This record is produced by Canadian underground hip-hop powerhouse, “Socalled”, and is waiting to either transport you to another place and time, or lead off your next dance party. This music is dangerous, infectious, and inspiring, and I can’t wait to see them perform it live sometime soon.