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…I really wish I had some kind of idea as to what the hell I’m listening to here with Leningrad Cowboys. I usually go into the First Impression column without any information, but with no access to the internet right now, and the only accomodating press release being in Dutch (which I don’t understand), all I can do is question what the hell is going on with this release. Well, that and why this rather silly sounding group is really sticking with me.

Between tracks that seem to mix Oompa and Polka, but not in a Finntroll way, classic rock along the lines of crooners and the days of Elvis Presley and other early Rock acts, even tracks that make me think I’m listening to the offbeat sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show I…I’m completely at a loss for words. After hearing the first half of the album Buena Vodka Social Club, it’s so hard to describe just what I’m listening to. There’s really no pattern to this, and yet it sounds pretty good. “Machine Gun Blues” incorporates more of a Polka sound that had me picturing Cartman from South Park doing the German dance against it the entire time against a Weird Al Yankovich Polka song laced with Rock. Then things change to a more serious sound for “All We Need is Love” which is not a cover of The Beatles‘ classic but has more of a modern Rock sound to it similar to what you’d expect to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and, again, more Progressive material and still makes for a good song despite the clashing tones of music.

“Drill-A-Hole” became the song that really stood out simply because it ushered in some of the sillier material, but this song has such a strong Progressive Metal approach with it’s Polka sound similar to “Machine Gun Blues” and it’s memorable chorus of “I’m gonna drill a hole in your head if you don’t let me at the back door.” Again the Polka influence brings in some Weird Al Yankovich against tinges of Sonata Arctica in the vocals. But yet it’s so good. Next is “Gimme Your Sushi” which is just so damn ridiculous with it’s early Beach Boys sound that it left me cracking up laughing with it’s serious lyrics about a beautiful girl named Susie and such a ridiculous chorus that repeats “Gimme your sushi, little Susie” and the random “Gimme your monkey, and I will suck it” to replace the third line in the repetition, followed by a rather long freeform Jazz section out of nowhere. This eventually leads into “Rock ‘n’ Roll Show” which again brings us back to that early Rock sound that immediately makes you think you’re involved in the Progressive Rock rendition of Rocky Horror Picture Show with the over-the-top rhaspy vocals with rolling r’s, higher pitched background vocals, and some female vocals for the chorus that go into a pretty strong and catchy chorus that feels more like a natural Progressive Rock song. But before I can stop the album and say “Ok, save it for the review,” I notice the next song titled “I Kill the Dog!” which I had to play and brace myself for as traditional Marianachi music kicks in with a chorus that screams System of a Down random aggressive passage with the rest of the song and a superbly heavy guitar solo.

So…what did I just hear? I have no idea, but it seems like the most extreme of “Progressive Rock” concepts. Is it unique? While the music may not be the most original thanks to obvious similarities to other acts, intentional or otherwise, the answer is yes in the fact that it’s often silly as hell with solid music thrown in. Is it fun? Yeah, and it seems like the band is expressing a lot of joy in playing the material. Buena Vodka Social Club is perhaps one of the most off-the-wall albums I’ve heard, ranking up there with Suspended Animation by Fantomas, and Scarsick by Pain of Salvation. I’m sure there’s more, but those pop into my head right now. It’s simply madness, and I kind of fear hearing the rest, though at the same time I’m anxious to hear if this does get any more crazy. I did enjoy the experience, but I get the feeling this is going to be one of those releases you’re going to listen to a few times, and the novelty of the humor will wear off and just not be the same since much of this is approached as an album that will leave you laughing and scratching your head in utter disbelief.

Article based on digital review material provided by SPV Records.