VulgarGrad bring you a highly alcoholic and volatile blend of the old songs of the Russian thieves (called blatnie pesny or blatnyak), along with punk classics of the Perestroika era and a strong dose of contemporary St. Petersburg swearing ska. The band delivers this music with style, raucous menace, stripy shirts and a smattering of grim smiles (very important).
Legend of stage and screen, Jacek Koman (Children of Men, Moulin Rouge, Romulus My Father, Australia) is the genial but vengeful front man who roars with the voice of a man betrayed, and he is backed by a gang of Australia's most illustrious ex-cons drawn from bands such as The Spaghetti Western Experience, The Blue Grassy Knoll, Zulya and the Children of the Underground, Croque Monsieur, Blue Drag, and the Five Angry Men. The Line-up is guitar, drums, trombone, trumpet, accordion, and watch out for the largest, most triangular instrument of them all, the mighty contrabass balalaika.
"This album is an absolute hoot! The album title (read with tongue firmly planted in cheek) says it all really – think Tom Waits in Russian meets Waiting For Guiness or any of that ilk. VulgarGrad are a Melbourne-based outfit featuring bassist Andrew Tanner (Zulya’s Children Of The Underground) on contrabass balalaika, with an able crew of guitar, horns & accordion, and at the helm the extraordinary guttural vocals of Jacek Koman.
All the songs are sung in Russian, delivered with all the morose hilarity we love from the Eastern Bloc proletariat, and with titles like ‘Alkoholik’, ‘Why Did The Aborigines Eat Captain Cook’ and ‘Anarchy Is Our Mother’ you can probably assume this is not music to be bourgeois to. It swings, stutters, stumbles and growls, veering and careering from cabaret cheese to jazz groove to carny to ska. While the musicians are clearly seasoned (or pickled), they play with shambolic abandon, often threatening to slide off the vodka-soaked table and into a puddle on the floor, with Koman’s growl providing enough rust to prevent proceedings from ever getting too slick. A fat horn section slithers & seesaws with well-oiled grunt, peppered with tasteful sprinklings of Nara Demasson’s jazzy guitar and what I assume is Svetlana Bunic’s MIDI accordion sounding like xylophone, hammond organ, flute and other sundry effects.
Superlatives aside, this is a great slab of music – energetic & fun, well-played and imminently danceable, although possibly even better to get very drunk and hurtle to."
01. Murka (trad.)
02. Alkoholik (S.Shnurov)
03. Why Did the Aborigines Eat Captain Cook (V.Vysotsky)
04. Anarchy is Our Mother (V.Tsoy)
05. The Giraffe (V.Vysotsky)
06. Vaninsky Port (trad.)
07. This Russian Rock 'N' Roll (F.Chistyakov)
08. The Years Rush By (A.Severny)
Jacek Koman: vocals
Andrew Tanner: contrabass, balalaika
Renato VaCirca: drums
Ros Jones: trombone
Adam Pierzchalski: trumpet
Nara Demasson: guitar
Phil McLeod: piano, accordion