World famous Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki’s cult – and hilarious road – ’89 movie, “Leningrad Cowboys go America” describes the fortunes and misadventures of a struggling Siberian rock band on their way from the tundra to America, eventually ending up in Mexico and on the local top ten chart. Aki Kaurismäki teamed-up in a bar with Sakke Jarvenpää and Mato Valtonen, members of the Finnish pop-punk band Sleepy Sleepers in ’86 and their collaboration result with a short film “Rocky VI” followed by two more short films “Thru the Wire” (1987) and “L.A. Woman” (1988) until the critically acclaimed “Leningrad Cowboys go America”. After the success of the film, the band took on a life of its own, recording several albums, making videos and giving concerts. The band appeared in two other Aki Kaurismäki films, the “Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses” (1994) and the “Total Balalaika Show” (1994), which is a film of a concert performed by the band and the full 160-member Alexandrov ensemble in Helsinki, Finland in June 1993.
Currently, the band has 11 Cowboys and 2 Leningrad Ladies. Their songs, all somewhat influenced by polka and progressive rock, are performed in English and also includes folkloric Russian songs, rock and roll ballads and they performed mainly covers from bands as diverse as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Modern Talking, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, all presented with lots of humour.
Their new album, “Buena Vodka Social Club”, is the first album of all-original material since 2000’s “Terzo Mondo”.
01. Machine Gun Blues (02:26)
02. All We Need Is Love (03:35)
03. Drill A Hole (04:04)
04. Gimme Your Sushi (03:05)
05. Rock n Roll Show (04:57)
06. I Kill The Dog (02:55)
07. Gasolina (03:19)
08. Buena Vodka Social Club (04:25)
09. Frijoles Y Lager (01:33)
10. Wash Your Ass (04:40)
11. Mule (06:12)
“Machine Gun Blues” kicks out in the classic “Balalaika” sound and style and if some themes, passages might reminds you of something through their new album, I guess that’s the point. “All We Need Is Love” have the same colorful groove, Russian music combined with powerful rock. “Drill A Hole” have kind of Klezmer taste, but the rock, metal and parody tastes are made out of it another great classic Leningrad Cowboys anthem – they reminds me of The Offspring. “Gimme Your Sushi” send us back a little bit to the 70s rock in their own funny way. “Rock n Roll Show” continue in the same manner, eventually their sound is quite heavier. “I Kill The Dog” bring to the surface some Spanish taste and cutting edge riffing at the chorus, quite exotic cocktail – once again. “Gasolina” reminds me of Gogle Bordello, have that groovy gypsy pulse. “Buena Vodka Social Club” start as a heavy metal anthem from the 80s, eventually reminds me of Scorpions and their heaviest moments while the chorus might be a perfect match for any Modern Talking hit – another sick thing, but groovy and funny. “Frijoles Y Lager” have again roots back to the 70s psychedelia and the golden era of big bands. “Wash Your Ass” bring back the heavier guitar riffs and the more metallish approach. “Mule” close the album in kind of gloomy tones, it’s a slow, but not ballad-like (film) theme.
I love these cowboys, but I admit, I prefer their covers, still, this is a good (and funny) album.