The track “Then You Win” by prolific, always-busy Russian heavy rockers The Grand Astoria was released as a digital single earlier this year (streamed here), but as there’s a new 7″ version of the single out as a precursor to their latest full-length, Punkadelica Supreme, the St. Petersburg-based weirdo revelers decided they’d put together a video for it as well. Culled from footage from some recent shows in their native land, “Then You Win” gives those of us who may never get to see the band live some view of what we’re missing.
From the looks of it, plenty. The Grand Astoria never shy away from injecting their material with a healthy individualized sensibility, and “Then You Win” sets ’90s-style guitar crunch against some off-kilter melodies, resulting in a feel that — true to the upcoming album — isn’t quite punk, isn’t quite psych, somehow relatable to the Melvins but not seeming remotely interested in actually sounding like them. One of my favorite things about the band is that I have a hard time classifying them, and as they make ready to release Punkadelica Supreme, that doesn’t seem to have dissipated in the slightest.
Diagnosed with a terminal case of “the weird,” adventurous Russian heavy rockers The Grand Astoria are shortly to loose their latest full-length, Punkadelica Supreme. The St. Petersburg outfit have become stewards over the last couple years of the Russian riffy scene, touring around their native land and across Europe while keeping up a fairly prolific clip of singles, EPs and even a split with U.S. Christmas.
I’m not sure on the release date for Punkadelica Supreme, but The Grand Astoria posted a new video for the track “Feels Like Home,” directed by guitarist Igor Suvorov, and if you’re prone to seizures as a result of flashing lights, I can’t really advise checking it out, but for everyone else, it’s pretty rocking even if you put it on and just listen to the audio. Fuzz-toned and punk-shouting, given break in its stomp by organ, it sounds like The Grand Astoria are really shooting for the mark their title sets up.
The Grand Astoria, “Feels Like Home” Official Video
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Something tells me that even if they didn’t live all the way in Russia, I’d probably have a hard time keeping up with The Grand Astoria. Maybe it’s the fact that every time I turn around, the St. Petersburg-based outfit have a new release coming, if not more than one. Their split with venerated North Carolinian psych merchants U.S. Christmas still fresh off the press, The Grand Astoria have announced three new works on the way — a single and a live album due in April and a new studio album due later in the year. As much music and info as I could get follow here, grabbed from The Grand Astoria Bandcamp and Thee Facebooks pages:
The Grand Astoria, Good Food – Good Show! (April 17)
A selection of live performances from different countries
1.Mania Grandiosa (Yellowstock,BE 2012) 2.Rat Race In Moscow (Yellowstock,BE 2012) 3.Evolution Of The Planet Groove (Yellowstock,BE 2012) 4.All The Same (St.Petersburg,RU 2013) 5.Omniabsence (Potsdam,DE 2011) 6.Something Wicked This Way Comes (Potsdam,DE 2011) 7.The Man.The Sun.The Desert (Seville,ES 2010) 8.Wikipedia Surfer (Preili,LV 2010) 9.Lenin Was A Mushroom (St.Petersburg,RU 2010) 10.Map Of The Starry Night (St.Petersburg,RU 2010) 11.Shoreline Melody (St.Petersburg,RU 2010)
The Grand Astoria, Punkadelica Supreme (Later 2013)
1.Welcome To The Club 2.Slave Of Two Masters 3.I Know 4.Punkadelia Supreme 5.Street Credit 6.Space Orchid vs Massive Drumkit 7.Dropping Aitches 8.Feels Like Home 9.To Cross The Rubicon 10.King Has Left The Building 11.Visualize 12.Score 13.Intermission
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 23rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bit of a media blitz on this one, so bear with me. The Grand Astoria released the track “To Whom it May Concern” on a split with U.S. Christmas at the beginning of last month. The St. Petersburg, Russia, outfit went all out on it. The song is a 19-minute sprawl of psychedelic experimentation, rife with samples, winding riffs and ethereal flourishes and swirls. Don’t just take my word for it, though. They’ve put it up on their Bandcamp, so you can check it out here:
Pretty wild stuff. Over the course of their three albums — last year’s Omnipresence (review here), 2010′s II (review here) and 2009′s self-titled (On the Radar’ed here) — the band have quickly grown to cast a wide stylistic berth, but I think “To Whom it May Concern” is the farthest out The Grand Astoria have gone yet. Should be interesting to see what they do with it on tour, whether they strip it down or jam out on its space rocking elements. They hit the road on Friday, dates below (click to enlarge):
Ever ones for multi-media, they’ve also put together a video flyer for the run of shows, which they posted on the ol’ TubesofYou:
Now, they don’t really highlight it in there — presumably out of humility — but on this tour, The Grand Astoria will be taking part in Mudfest, which is happening Nov. 9-10 in Venlo, in the Netherlands, at Peron55. They’ll be playing with the likes of Sungrazer, Wheelfall, Kadavar, Black Bombaim, Glowsun and Belzebong on a stacked two-day bill. Here’s the poster for that one:
They’ve also announced they’ll play Roskilde Festival next year in Denmark. One would think this flurry of activity and the recently-issued split would be enough to keep The Grand Astoria busy, but according to a pic they recently posted on their Thee Facebooks, they’re also looking to have a new album out next spring. It may or may not be titled Punkadelica Supreme(though I certainly hope it is), and if you squint, you can check out the maybe-tracklisting below:
The really crazy part is, there’s probably more. I’m sure as we get closer to 2013 and the new album release, there’ll be further updates on The Grand Astoria and their manifold adventures, but that’s all my limited research skills could muster for the moment. In any case, plenty to look forward to, and if you want to check out more of their records, they’re all up on Bandcamp. Right on.
True, my existence has been a diseased and stress-filled shambles ever since my return from Europe now nearly two weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I’d stayed there another week. Quite the opposite. As documentation begins to emerge from Desertfest Berlin, it only seems to underscore how righteous the fest was and makes me even sorrier to have missed it. I found a few clips on the YouBigTruck — oh wait I’m sorry, it’s not a big truck, it’s a series of tubes — that emphasize the point, and figured I’d share in case you hadn’t seen them yet.
For fun, here are five reasons I wish I was there:
Granted, I got to see Greenleaf — the Swede-rock heavy supergroup populated by members of Dozer and Truckfighters — in London, but here’s the thing about it: They were really fucking good. Blindingly so, and another opportunity to catch a set would’ve been greatly appreciated. It’s hard to argue with “Alishan Mountain,” since it’s one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard, and this just looks like good times to me:
2. Wight As their recorded output proves, the jam-heavy German stoner rockers aren’t messing around when it comes to riff worship, but as righteous as the guitar solo that leads this Desertfest jam is, it’s the bass runs underneath that have me totally hooked. Charm is half of Wight‘s game, and that’s clearly on display here as they jump headfirst into the recognizable blues rocking grooves of “You!,” a demo of which was previously streamed on this very site. This one would’ve been fun to watch live:
3. The Grand Astoria If I live to be 100, I’ll probably never make it to Russia, and while I don’t know for certain, I’m pretty sure the St. Petersburg four-piece — who seem to be in the process of acquiring a new rhythm section — don’t have any plans to hit the US anytime soon, so this would’ve been a crime of opportunity as much as anything else. I’ve dug both their records that I’ve heard (see here and here), and if this clip is any indicator of the shenanigans they threw down on stage for the duration of their set, hard not to feel like I missed out:
4. The Machine
At this point, what’s a trip to Europe without seeing The Machine? I kept hoping the Dutch natives — whose new album, Calmer than You Are was reviewed last week — would add a show on the sly sometime in the week before Roadburn kicked off, but no such luck, and after seeing them two years in a row on their native shores (or at least at the 013), they only seem to have gotten better as a live act, as this clip of opener “Moonward” from Calmer than You Are proves:
I’ve got their self-titled record on deck for review sometime in the next couple weeks (or months, if my current pace is maintained), and as they’re Berlin natives and I don’t know the band all that well yet, I think it would’ve been cool to check out organ-ized six-piece Operators at Desertfest. If nothing else, there’s six of ‘em! That’s like two trios! And part of being at any fest worthy of the name is finding new acts you hadn’t really been familiar with previously, so they probably would’ve filled that role well:
If we’re being honest with each other, there are way more than these five reasons I wish I’d been able to go to Desertfest Berlin, but some you win, some you have to go back to Jersey and spend two weeks staring at your computer monitor waiting for your work to finish itself. I think that’s how the song goes. Credit where it’s due, all these clips were shot by YouTube user MrJdelgadolopez, whose efforts and timely uploading are much appreciated.
Posted in Reviews on March 9th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
After releasing the well-received II last year through R.A.I.G., Russian genrenauts The Grand Astoria make a quick return with their third album, Omnipresence. Self-released and stretching to nearly a full-hour despite paring down song lengths from last time out, Omnipresence finds the St. Petersburg four-piece joined by a host of guests, paying tribute to Ray Bradbury (who shows up in the liner art), and managing at different times to play to their noisy strengths while also reaching beyond the limitations of stoner or heavy rock with funk and jam-based experimentation. Omnipresence has moments that work and moments that don’t, but as a band, The Grand Astoria are quickly growing into their sound, and their third offering documents that process well.
They’ve since lost their rhythm section, but guitarists Kamille Sharapodinov (also vocals) and Igor Suvorov are leading the charge on Omnipresence anyway, crisscrossing into and out of conventionality with ease unnerving for a band still so young, having just formed two years ago. Their restless nature shows off the bat with the stoner punk of opener “Doomsday Party,” in which Sharapodinov, Suvorov, then-bassist Farid Azizov and then-drummer Nick Kunavin are right in their element. Sharapodinov’s vocals on “Doomsday Party” and several of the more upbeat Omnipresence tracks remind of the blown-out feel Hank Williams III used on the earliest Assjack demos, but I’d imagine that’s more coincidence — and the effect is by no means exclusive to him, it’s just that with the quick tempo and punk feel, that’s what comes to my mind first. Azizov and Kunavin provide well-placed backing vocals on the opener and a few of the later tracks, including “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “Rat Race in Moscow,” two of the strongest songs on the album.
At their strongest, The Grand Astoria bite off a piece of Fu Manchu’s hardcore roots and make it their own, and some of Omnipresence shows that. “Hungry and Foolish,” which follows “Doomsday Party,” has formidable and unabashed stoner rock groove, but some of the spacier ideas that came to the fore on II show themselves in the echoey instrumental “Omniabsence,” which follows “Mania Grandiosa” (probably Sharapodinov’s best vocal here) and sets up the centerpiece section of the album. Its hypnotic affect is considerable – a four-minute trip into an alternate sonic galaxy – but if anything is going to snap the listener back to awareness, it’s the catchy “Rat Race in Moscow.” The vocals are high in the mix (I always think that, so take it with a grain of salt), but if The Grand Astoria were ever right to want to feature the chorus, it’s here. The track opens with a big rock finish and gives perhaps a more playful take on some of the punk influence shown earlier on in Omnipresence’s starting moments.
Posted in Reviews on August 10th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
With their origins in the chilly Russian climes of Saint Petersburg, The Grand Astoria are bound to bring something unique to their take on stoner rock, and sure enough, with their appropriately-titled second offering, II (R.A.I.G.), they do just that, eschewing a fuzzy sound for a harsher, noisier distorted jamming that occasionally goes full-cosmic. While some of the material on last year’s self-released self-titled effort seemed punkish, II comes from a less hurried place and shows The Grand Astoria as unafraid to experiment within their sound, adding samples or feedback to the mostly instrumental material as a way of engaging their audience.
Immediately noticeable about II is the way it’s organized. In terms of track length, the five songs that comprise the album would make a ‘U’ were you to graph them. Opener “Enjoy the View” reaches furthest at 14:50, then the cumbersomely-named “The Inner Galactic Experience of Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath” (Plath was referenced on the self-titled as well) clocks in at 7:40. “Visit Sri Lanka” gives a Siena Root-esque moment of Subcontinental Asian influence at 2:44, then it’s back to the longer material with “Wikipedia Surfer” at 9:02 and closer “Radio Friendly Fire” at 12:18. What was behind The Grand Astoria arranging the tracks this way I don’t know, but II does have a rich and smooth flow to it and “Visit Sri Lanka” breaks up the surrounding tracks in a way as to make the second half of the album as refreshing as the first, so no complaints.
Posted in On the Radar on January 27th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
To anyone who’d argue that the “stoner” sound is belonging to any one region or locale — i.e. the Palm Desert in California or the Southern US — first, you’re just wrong, and second, take a look at an act like The Grand Astoria, who call St. Petersburg in Russia home. They bill themselves as a stoner punk band, and in their more active, upbeat material like “Evolution of the Planet Groove,” I can hear it especially in the vocals of guitarist Kamille Sharapodinov, whose singing style might seem awkward with the music until you recall how many stoner rockers are just punkers who grew up.
That said, of the tracks on their MySpace, I prefer the grander, more instrumental and jammy vibe of “The Man. The Sun. The Desert,” which, although not without its moments of hesitation, has a more graceful flow and when Sharapodinov does offer vocals, they’re more subdued. The build up on that track, bolstered by the guitar work of Igor Suvorov, the bass of Farid Azizov and Nick Kunavin‘s drumming, leads to more straightforward thrash riffing and screaming solos sure to satisfy anyone looking to add a little metal into the mix.
These multiple personalities play out even further on “The Art of Communication with Aliens,” which takes the riffing to yet another level of noisy crunching heaviness. Fortunately, for anyone who’d want to experience The Grand Astoria‘s self-titled, self-released album, they’ve made it available free of charge. I know I’ll be checking it out, as it’s always interesting to hear what those from another culture bring to an established sound — and since you don’t hear much about the Russian scene, it could be an eye-opening experience. Here’s looking forward.