Following the successful debut album from 2005, Zilais valis (The Blue Whale), the Latvian alternative-pop group Double Faced Eels has released its second album. The new album’s title, Kurš gribēja nogalināt Džūliju? Nezinu, bet trāpija mums, roughly translates to “Who Tried to Kill Julia? Don’t Know, But We Got Hit.” The group has left its former label, Platforma Records, and has signed with the Lithuania-based company Antena.
The band also recently was nominated for a MTV Europe Music Award as Best Baltic Act. Things seem to be going well for the Eels.
The album starts off with the first single, a little pop song about a teacher named Dagmāra that has a cool effect with a scratching LP sound at the beginning and end of the track. The next song, “Radio,” is sung in English. Lead singer Mārtiņš Gailītis has received coaching for his English pronounciation and it is getting a lot better, though there’s still room for improvement. This song does rock and could be aired on any radio station outside Latvia without any problem.
“Prāts un sirds” (Mind and Heart) seems to be the serious song on the album. Guitarist Reinis Briğis really shines on this song with his haunting guitar solos. “Dārza rūķis” (Garden Gnome) is a satirical song about the political and social situation in Latvia. The lyrics to this song are not included in the album sleeve. Drummer Pauls Ķesteris shows off vocal abilities on “Salda dzīve ievārījumā” (Sweet Life), a snappy little song with honky-tonk piano and acoustic guitar. Midway through the song, Ķesteris gets messed up, but the band continues recording and the song keeps rolling along. I heard this song quite often on the radio when I was in Latvia this summer.
The title track, “Džūlija” (Julia) is next. It’s a nice song that asks the musical question, “Where is Julia, the girl who doesn’t care about anything?” Next is the MC5 classic “Kick Out the Jams” with Briğis doing a great lead vocal. His singing voice reminds me a lot of Grand Funk Railroad drummer Dom Brewer. Then follows a 21-second track called “Normunds negrib palaisties.” I think it’s Ķesteris making a lot of confusing and uncomprehendable sounds.
Two typical DFE powerpop songs follow, “Konfekte” (Candy) and “Šarmants vīrs” (Charming Man), not to be confused with The Smiths’ “This Charming Man.” Some listeners may have heard enough of DFE at this point, but if you like party music with power riffing guitars and tight drums and bass, DFE is certainly the kind of band you should be listening to.
Bassists Eduards Veinbrants takes his crack at lead vocals on “Mīlestība” (Love), which is a little sing-along song. It sounds like it was recorded at 3 a.m. after a party. Next is the beer commercial song, “Himna” (Anthem). Everbody stand up and raise your can of beer and salute!
“Kefīrs” (Kefir) is a popular and healthy dairy product in Latvia. The song is about this drink and the refrain goes “Man garšo kefīrs…bet naudas man nav” (I love kefir, but I don’t have any money).
You wonder if the Eels were looking in the crystal ball when they wrote “Dakteris” (Doctor). The song was written and recorded before Valdis Zatlers was nominated and became the new Latvian president. The chorus, “Dakteri, palīdzi Tu mums!” (Doctor, help us!) sounds like the Latvian people are pleading to the new president to help their country.
Who knows, maybe the Eels can look into the future? Let’s see if the band can win that MTV award later this fall in Munich, Germany, and perhaps 2007 will be the Year of the Eels.
Kurš gribēja nogalināt Džūliju? Nezinu, bet trāpija mums
Double Faced Eels
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