The young bucks from SHIRAZ LANE have been hard at work, and after a mere 2 years, have already released their sophomore album, “Carnival Days.” I’ve got a soft spot for these guys. Their first album had a ton of potential in it, and they’re really fun to watch live. As well, after doing an interview or two with them, I learned that they’re really nice guys with a lot of drive and passion. Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this album for a while.
The album starts off rather funkily with what I can only refer to as a “nice little ditty,” the eponymous “Carnival Days,” which shows off the groovy side of the band. It’s a fun song, has great energy to start off the album, and a great chorus that can easily be sung along to – a natural live track. Keeping the energy up but heading a bit more into the hard rock area, is “The Crown,” and I can instantly see Hannes Kett (vocals) rocking out on stage to this in my mind.
Full-force ahead, we go to “Harder to Breathe,” which was the first single released from the album last year. It’s very much that, a great, fun radio hit song, without being too cheesy to be taken seriously. Showing off their versatility, they take their youthful energy in yet another direction with “Tidal Wave,” with dynamics all over the place.
“Gotta Be Real” slows the album down a bit at least, giving the listener a well-needed break, but doesn’t slow down fully into ballad territory. Gotta love those big choruses and Kett‘s very gentle, sweet voice, along with the chill bits of soloing. I also have to say that I like the line, “Aim for the horizon” – a nice change from “aim for the stars” or other cliché lines that are overused. It evokes the feeling of moving forward, sunniness, and positivity, without feeling overused. Creative bonus points here.
It then seems really appropriate that “People Like Us” feels very much like a SHIRAZ LANE song. I mean, SHIRAZ LANE covers a lot of the hard rock spectrum, but if I was to pick a song from this album that really just sounds like them, it’d be this one. It’s got a bit of G’N’R funk, with the uplifting anthem sound that they’re so good at. What I like about these guys is that they’re great at writing radio hits, but my personal favorite songs are always the deeper, less obvious tracks (for example, “House of Cards” was easily my favorite on their first album).
They slow things down again with “Shangri-La,” an appropriately titled song for these hippy-ish guys who have such a hopeful outlook. It’s such a pleasant, enjoyable song, with everything working towards the good vibe that it creates. “War of Mine” is one of those songs that has a solid groove – good energy, but not a flail-around-dancing song like the earlier ones. On the first few listens it didn’t quite click, but after a while it picked up and began to fill its spot – it has a bit of a slow burn compared to most of the rest of the album. “Shot of Life,” on the other hand, has a nice and somewhat subtle eastern influence (I’m thinking Indian?) in the opening sound and kicks the energy level back up to the party level. It almost feels like they could’ve ended the album here, it’s such a high-powered song and it leaves a nice taste in the mouth, so to speak.
However, there are two more songs to go: the true ballad from the album, “Hope,” and the longest track, “Reincarnation.” “Hope” is one of those songs that’s really nice to listen to, with its gentle guitar work and calm, soothing vocals, and I suspect it’d just get better with lyrical input. The dynamic build-up at the end is subtle but quite nice. “Reincarnation,” rather than going for the high-energy “big bang” outro, opts for a more anthem-like style once more. Again, they seem to be working with a very positive outlook on everything, and ultimately, it’s a nice, hopeful song to close out with.
Overall, the album definitely feels like a mature step forward for these young guys, and is definitely going to be a good album for the upcoming summer. Let’s hope these guys will be at some festivals so we can all make the most of this new material.
Written by Bear Wiseman
- Carnival Days
- The Crown
- Harder to Breathe
- Tidal Wave
- Gotta Be Real
- People Like Us
- War of Mine
- Shot of Life
Hannes Kett – vocals
Miki Kalske – guitars
Joel Alex – guitars
Jani Laine – bass
Ana Wilman – drums