With regard to the pace of work, THE GRAND ASTORIA are really fast. It is not so long ago that I wrote a review about their self-titled debut and now the second album has been released in 2010 by R.A.I.G. within a short period of time. Fortunately it does not mean a compromise on quality. Just as last time this Russian band is attempting to create an own musical profile, and this time they are even more successful than before. 'II' has a very spontaneous character and all five songs have been recorded live in the studio. That does not mean, however, that this album is a half-baked attempt in the domain of jam influenced heavy rock. This really holds water, because THE GRAND ASTORIA are able to create exciting song structures and Kamille Sharapodinov is not only a very talented guitarist but also a good songwriter. As already mentioned in the review about the debut album, he is however not the best vocalist, but that doesn't matter because there is not much singing on this album, except for 'The Inner Galactic Experience of Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath'.
But he does a good job of not overwhelming each song with wanky guitar solos, dropping back into a variety of sometimes-funky rhythmic approaches without changing the musical direction. It's also very nice that THE GRAND ASTORIA are particularly open-minded when it comes to different musical influences. 'Visit Sri Lanka' is a successful mixture of Indian music and psychedelic, while 'Enjoy The View' presents a significant emotional depth. There are some surprising turns within a few of the songs to keep up the tension. 'Wikipedia Surfer' begins in a peaceful and nice way, but then the beat gets a move on and the song turns into a hard rockin' sonic whirlwind. 'II' is an album that holds its own from first song to last with enough sparkling moments to make it interesting and varied. I am sure that THE GRAND ASTORIA have not yet exhausted the full potential their music has to offer but they are on the right track. Their second effort is considerably stronger than the debut. Also very good is Sophia Avodeorim's cover design, which had been done with a great deal of care. By the way she has also done the artwork of the first album.