The past several months I’ve become rather giddy because there has been an upswing in the quality of the Latvian music industry. Rock group Gain Fast continues the upward trend of good times and even better music.
Gain Fast’s debut album, Viss mainījies (Everything’s Changed), came out in February of this year, but the band is no stranger to Latvia’s airwaves. The group’s first single, “Brīži” (Moments), came out in 2004, jumped to Radio SWH’s No. 1 song of the week, and dominated the No. 1 spot for more than five weeks in “Latvian Airplay Top 50.” Slowly but surely, one single after another, Gain Fast kept its place on the charts and has finally given listeners something tangible.
With their jeans, vintage T-shirts and blazers, the members of Gain Fast (Kaspars Zlidnis on vocals, Didzis Bardovskis on bass, Andžejs Grauds on drums, Gatis Vanags on guitar and Oskars Tretjuks on keyboard) not only look and like an alternative rock band should, but they sound like one, too. So I was confused when the album started with a slow, acoustic guitar intro, sounding more like something one might hear from a Līvi album or from Rodrigo y Gabriela on barbituates.
But then the real stuff kicks in. A fade from the soothing acoustics into a strong rock beat bring us to the first track, “Tavās acīs” (In Your Eyes). The track’s strong percussion immediately pulled me in, and although I was at first a bit thrown off by the vocals (they sounded too soft for the music accompanying them), they grew on me.
“Kliedz” (Shout), possibly my favorite track, is a very busy song with no lack of vocals, percussion, keyboard and islandish-sounding guitar. Its full sound moves the album right along, leaving no time or room for disappointment. The lyrics are strong as well:
Nokrītu es atkal zemu
Nav vairs spēka piecelties
Kliedz, ja gribi mani atmodināt
Kliedz, ja es tev neesmu vienaldzīgs
Jo dažkārt nevar skaidri zināt
Pie kā lai tagad pieķerās
Tā var spārnus apdedzināt
Ja nezina kam lai pieglaužas
It makes you want to shout along with Zlidnis. I’m convinced that Gain Fast understands how alternative rock is done.
The fourth track, although it’s good, is not particularly impressing. It’s just a step down from the first three songs. The album’s title track brings it back up a notch, slipping back into the great vocals and cutting rhythms.
In the next set of songs, with the exception of track eight, Gain Fast shows off its softer side. With the exception of light-hearted punk-rocky track eight (which is very fun to sing along with), tracks six through 11 are great songs to relax to. What surprised me were the English-language tracks Gain Fast has decided to put on its first album. “Last Goodbye” could be any other song heard on any other rock station on the radio, but “Oh Lord” grinds my gears. It’s too country sounding and, in my opinion, takes away from the rest of the album. Luckily for Gain Fast, its first single track, “Brīži” makes it seem like “Oh Lord” never happened. Thank God.
“Brīži,” my second favorite track, gets back to the “real stuff.” The tracks calls to mind bands like Nickelback and 3 Doors Down, or any popular alt.rock band that tends to stick to more soulful songs. Gain Fast has easily captured the style and it fits well.
For the sake of others, and myself, I’m going to pretend that track 12, a “bossa nova” remix of “Tavās acīs,” doesn’t exist. The band tried something different, but it didn’t work for me.
On the flip side, I love, love, love track 13, which is nothing more than a remix of “Kliedz.” I’m obviously already partial to the song, but the remix really is a wonderful one. It gets me moving to the beat every time and sticks in my head (not unwelcomed) for hours after.
The last track is an English version of “Var jau būt.” it’s a bit different from its Latvian counterpart, but it manages to maintain the overall tone. In general, the English is all right—not perfect, but all right.
For the people who are fans of some of the other groups I’ve already mentioned, like Nickelback or 3 Doors Down, Gain Fast will be right up their alley. Viss mainījies is a great album and I can easily get into it, minus the few bumps along the road. I’d like to personally congratulate Gain Fast on a wonderful first album that’s like a gift that keeps on giving.
Platforma Records, 2007
On the Web
The band’s official Web site includes background on members, song lyrics, and news of concerts and other events. LV
The band’s page on the Latvian social network site draugiem.lv. LV
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