THE GRAND ASTORIA was formed in April 2009 by guitarist and singer Kamille Sharapodinov from Saint-Petersburg. His previous band, NEVERSMILE gave him lots of live gigging and studio recording experience. So, it took his new band only a few months to produce the debut eponymous album and win the audience in both Russian capitals with explosive, loud and fuzzy music which they billed as "stoner punk". For music samples and booking please visit THE GRAND ASTORIA MyspaceMusic page.
TGA’s second studio album is basically an all-instrumental effort: except of one song, the vocals are completely abandoned in favor of more complicated and sophisticated compositional approach. The band refused to let go of its initial “stoner punk” sound concept, and blended it with influences from psychedelic and progressive rock. With the dual lead guitars that run wild in many parts, the music is definitely on the heavier side, and has sparks of 90’s stoner metal, interlaced with the exploration of extended musical structures contradicting harmonies, intricate patterns and textures. Performed by: Kamille Sharapodinov (guitars, vocals), Igor Suvorov (guitars), Farid Azizov (bass), and Nick Kunavin (drums). (5 tracks - 47 min.)
"The Grand Astoria have certainly not reinvented instrumental music, but their mix of stoner rock with psychedelic ingredients is still very successful, mostly because they never get bogged down in headless improvisations but always keep the song in mind, even if it happens to be over ten minutes long. Fans of stoner rock and handmade vintage psychedelia that don’t mind the predominant lack of vocals will find themselves immersed in a pleasant instrumental journey that gets off much better than those of most likeminded artists. (Grade: 8/10)" – by Pascal Thiel at DisAgreement (Luxembourg) (May 2010).
"A very Psychedelic Stoner rock meets classic Hard Rock group... The Psychedelia comes in the form of a early 70's punkish, garage attitude but its brilliantly blended with some great fuzzy guitar work through some really long extended instrumental jams and Psychedelic musical trips... The album kicks off with a 14 minute or around that length, melodic instrumental titled 'Enjoy The View'. Along with some great cruising laid back Psychedelic atmosphere, the track slowly climbs and is always building and forever gaining in the fuzz department, there is some truly spectacular guitar work in the track. The tune's atmosphere is also enhanced by some Russian spoken word samples that sound like astronauts reporting their findings back to planet earth. A great track indeed and one that never gets dull despite its long running time. 'The Inner Galactic Experience Of Emily Dickinson And Sylvia Plath' is faster and more direct with a punkish attitude mostly coming from the vocals but there is also a classic rock vibe that brings to mind the great twin-lead guitar work of bands like Thin Lizzy. 'Visit Sri Lanka' is a lot more minimalistic and basic but serves as a great interlude between the more hard-edged numbers on the disc. 'Wikipedia Surfer' is really diverse, starting off very mellow before building with some great guitar solo's and then gaining in heaviness. About 7 minutes in, you get a Progressive Rock twist injected into the piece with some killer guitar work once again. Its more instrumental extravagance but it is never pretentious or too predictable and the fine production only helps along the rocking but also the laid-back vibe of the album. The album ends with another extended jammy type of tune with 'Radio Friendly Fire', the atmospheric psychedelic tune returns the album to the feeling the opening track has and even features more spoken word samples and varied guitar styles. The tune gets really heavier about 8 minutes in and it builds to a fitting conclusion, there is also a great use of trippy effects within the 12 minute track... The feeling I get is this band must really kick ass live. The songs have a live jamming quality which is perfect for live performances and this band really know their way around a guitar. This is one of those albums that is easy listening at any time of the day or night but it also rocks hard in places and the fuzz-based sound is unique for a Russian band... There is a lot to be said for writing quality songs that will stand the test of time and The Grand Astoria have got that covered. Rather than showing off or kicking musical ass just to sound heavy, this band write songs that are already within the realms of timeless rock. Half instrumental, half with vocals but all solid, this is worth checking out. (Score: 8.5/10)" – by Ed Barnard at Doommantia (USA) (July 2010).
"The group has opted to pursue more of an instrumental direction on this record as only one track 'The Inner Galactic Experience...' is graced with Sharapodinov's snotty sounding, nasal delivery. The other change that is immediately apparent on the opening fifteen minute instrumental track 'Enjoy The View' is that the group is also going for a more complex approach as far as their arrangements are concerned. Drummer Nick Kunavin who proved he was more than capable of holding the rhythm section together on that first record is an absolute monster on this disc as he displays some first rate drum chops on this opening cut and on the scorching 'Wikipedia Surfer'. The brief, eastern tinged 'Visit Sri Lanka' finds the band exploring some new sounds, while the slow and gradual, atmospheric swells employed by both Sharapodinov and Suvorov on the aforementioned 'Wikipedia Surfer' and closing track 'Radio Friendly Fire' I think clearly demonstrates how they've matured as songwriters and arrangers. Overall II doesn't come off as raw and primal as their debut disc although there are definitely examples of that on display here. (Score: 4/5)" – by Ryan Sparks at Sea Of Tranquility (USA) (July 2010).
"The Petrograd’s blend free heavy spacious experimental psychedelic stoner rock music, featuring some really infectious grooves, that will have you grooving and reaching for the air guitar... This is an album that is full of infectious grooves, sounding commercially appealing without stepping over to the other side and selling their souls. The band experiment and jam out their fascinating styles, for me hitting the nail on the head, which makes it an exciting proposition as to where they go from here with their new album. The band is a tight unit, having a good sense of what they want to achieve, arriving in style, dressed for the party. This is a highly recommended album. (Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10)" – by John O'Boyle at DPRP (UK) (August 2010).
"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." – by Klaus Kleinowski at Cosmic Lava (Germany) (January 2011).
The album was also reviewed at: Monochrom-Cracked (Austria), Music Waves (France), Metal Library (Russia), Metal Library's interview with The Grand Astoria (Russia), Neformat (Ukraine), Psychotropic Zone (Finland), Stonerobixxx (w/ free-to-download promo-version) (Belgium), Concrete Web (Belgium), The Obelisk (USA), Stonerrock.de (Germany), Heavy Planet (USA).