Gogol Bordello vs. Tamir Muskat

Also: Les Savy Fav, Ted Leo + The Pharmacists.




New York's pre-eminent "gypsy punk cabaret" act, Gogol Bordello play world music the way a young band being courted by Warner Bros. bigwigs might raid the Nonesuch promo walk-in: speedily, and with the zeal of folks conscious of a narrow window of opportunity. J.U.F.—which stands for Jewish-Ukrainishe Freundschaft, in tribute to seminal German industrialists DAF—are Gogol's sister band, still based around mustached singer/raconteur Eugene Hütz but incorporating several new members more specifically geared to making "electronic gypsy punk" that's every bit as lively as its rock-band counterpart. Hütz's genius is his ability to cut off skeptics obsessed with the authenticity of his immigrant's brew at the pass. In addition to keening fiddle, mewling accordion, and humid Django Reinhardt guitar, Hütz, along with Tamir Muskat (the band's resident beatsmith), fills J.U.F. with stuff he only knows about from spinning it during his DJ nights at New York's Mehanata: horny dancehall riddims, tinny dance beats, and electric-guitar stabs exhumed from wherever C + C Music Factory's career was buried, even the tin-whistle siren call that encouraged Leonardo DiCaprio to chuck Kate Winslet overboard during Celine Dion's big scene in Titanic. You could unravel Hütz's love letter to his own ears for days and still be left with a globe of multicolored yarn. MIKAEL WOOD

Gogol Bordello play Graceland with Devotchka at 9:30 p.m. Sat., Nov. 6. $10 adv.




Depending on where you weigh in on the ought-two, ought-three N.Y.C.-based indie-rock sound of bands like the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Interpol, Les Savy Fav's compilation of 7-inches past either broke your heart or made your day when it was released this spring. If the early '00s made you feel like the last kid out on the playground when everyone else had filed behind the cheerleaders toward the pep rally, you probably felt slightly betrayed by the collective self-consciousness of Inches' first half. The singles collection provides a pretty clear definition of what indie rock has been for the better part of the last decade, from bashing, mathy rhythms and growling, switchback guitars that depart from Fugazi to cleaner lines and clearer broadcasts that depart from, well, Les Savy Fav. With the majority of LSF material issued on bassist Syd Butler's Frenchkiss label, the group embodies the indie-rock ideal. What's more, the band and the label have reached top-shelf cult status, and in terms of reputation and heft, both are now a far cry from the meager, underdoggie anti-caliber that "indie" once conveyed—another apt metaphor for the entire genre. It isn't practical, possible, or necessary to say exactly who led and who followed, but I'd say the title alone of LSF's Go Forth from 2001 speaks volumes, as does the band's live show. With the anti-sex-machine allure of frontman Tim Harrington speaking for the tightly bound band, LSF knock out a perfectly tidy mess. LAURA CASSIDY

Les Savy Fav play Neumo's with Cobra High, Smoke and Smoke, and DJ Roy at 9:30 p.m. Mon., Nov. 8. $10 adv./$12.


Shake the Sheets


"I'll put it to you plain and bluntly/I'm worried for my tired country," Ted Leo sings on his new album's "The One Who Got Us Out." Ted Leo + the Pharmacists' 2003 Hearts of Oak, while "political," was recorded before the full horror of Iraq made every newspaper of 2004 such a soul-deadening slog. Now, like the rest of us, Leo's spending his morning commute "listening to stories of detainees barely kept alive." The difference is that Leo has a band, and he's not going to waste a recording opportunity documenting late-night beer binges and dreams of girls in granny glasses carrying a copy of Das Kapital. Like all great political bands, the Pharmacists smoke first—the rubbery skank and snare crash of "The Angels Share," the jigging riffs of "Counting Down the Hours," the throbbing Joy Division–esque opening of "Little Dawn"—and raise questions later. Leo has the best rhythm section in indie rock, a duo that remembers there's more to life than cod-funk and disco, filtering Thin Lizzy and 2 Tone through post-hardcore urgency. If their playing is sometimes too speedy for their own good, it's only because Leo is animated by an impassioned earnestness flecked enough by self-doubt to keep it from curdling into cheese. It's the same thing that drove the Clash to write really fast folk and reggae songs and distribute them as if they were political pamphlets. Ted Leo gives me hope, which is the highest compliment I can dole out in 2004. Now someone get him on the radio. JESS HARVELL

Ted Leo + the Pharmacists play Neumo's with Lucero, the Lashes, and the Reputation at 9 p.m. Tues., Nov. 9. $10 adv./$12. All ages.

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