Top Ukraine Releases of the Year 2016
At Louder Than War we challenge boundaries and champion diversity, reflective of our open door policy in coverage and contribution. We get as excited by DIY and lesser known artists as we do releases by more established artists. While music blogs so often look to the main music-exporters of the world to guide their annual ‘Best of’ lists, this time around, it’s worth exploring some of the music coming from another hotbed enclave of cultural activity – Ukraine.
Written by Paul Scott-BatesOKEAN ELZY (Океан Ельзи) – Bez Mezh (Без меж)
This latest offering from Okean Elzy, translated at ‘No limits’, was released in May 2016. It is impossible to talk about Ukrainian pop and rock music and not mention this band, especially when they released a new album. Fronted by Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, Okean Elzy is undisbutably the most popular group in Ukraine. The songs on this album seem familiar, comfortable and understandable to the core. They are comforting to some extent, with the old style of rock showing hints of influence from folk melodies and a clearcut refrain-verse format. While there are no surprises here, this is something that already nobody expects of Okean Elzy – after all, as they say “if it’s not broken, why fix it?” I think ‘Не йди’ (Don’t Go) and ‘Не Твоя Війна’ (Not Your War) are the key standout tracks here, with a fantastic videos to go along with them. I’m equally impressed with the accompanying video for ‘Океан Ельзи жестовою мовою’, which features a very passionate delivery of this song’s vocals in sign language – certainly beats any close-captioned video footage I’ve ever seen.