Features

50 greatest Ukrainian albums of the 2010s

СЛУХ
23174

The decade has come to an end, and it’s important to capture its spirit. How did Ukrainian music sound? Who was able to change the game, set trends, and get people to fall in love with them and their songs?

SLUKH editorial has listened to hundreds of albums and created its own list based on the following criteria:

  • Music – is it original, relevant, and sophisticated?
  • Uniqueness – what is the idea of the album? Is it up-to-date?
  • Influence – how has the album changed the perception of reality? What has it given to the audience and the musician itself? How has the album changed the Ukrainian musical landscape? 

Resonance – what stories were connected with the album? How has it been talked about in Ukraine and globally?

Here are the 50 greatest Ukrainian albums of the 2010s we selected.

50

Tik Tu

Shuma (2016)

Tik Tu band from Ternopil released a beautiful, melodious album of nice dance music. In the meantime, Tik Tu doesn’t cut across the line or interfere with the listener’s personal space. Except for the Maliusiki song.

49

ATOMIC SIMAO

Levitation Loom Four (2018)

ATOMIC SIMAO is an orchestra of hallucinogenic travels. They sneak into your mind easily and kick it beyond the mental boundaries. Levitation Loom Four is all about fantasy and trust. Masterfully.

48

5 Vymir

Mistoliniia (2014)

Mistoliniia (or Cityline) is the first notable appearance of the Indie band. It is a story about a human being in the city, packed in the melodious guitar rock with the British fleur and urban lyrics.

47

On The Wane

Schism (2017)

Unfortunately, On The Wane has already split. However, they left us with three totally different albums. The third and last albums are a unique mix of various unpopular in Ukraine genres like no wave and noise rock with interesting compositional solutions.

46

+\- (plus\minus)

Emerald Island (2010)

Before becoming Cape Cod, Maksym Sikalenko has been playing in a band named +\-. Their only album released in 2010 was barely noticed then. But these days you can see that it definitely deserves more. This is heavy, raging, and masterful music that sounds especially up-to-date amidst hard Ukrainian underground music.

45

Koloah

Salon Imaginalis (2019)

While creating his electronic album, Dmytro Avksientiev аkа Koloah was inspired by his memories of the video store he visited as a child. Salon Imaginalis is a magical journey through dreams. Yuliia Zaporozhets aka Julinoza is a guide to the fascinating cinematic worlds that require a lot of imagination.

44

Dzierzynski Bitz

Love Me Do (2014)

Dzierzynski Bitz, one of the most outstanding Ukrainian bands, has released a superb album that represents the quintessence of their music. It has it all – both the romantic British new wave and the flirt with the Soviet aesthetics coexist in their music without any conflict.

43

Septa

Sounds Like Murder (2016)

Progressive metal really sounds like murder. Septa turns murder into art. It is a whole and conceptual work – a mix of piercing, emotional songs, and heavy monumental pieces.

42

My Personal Murderer

Cauchemar (2016)

This is one of the most gentle, erotic, and darkest albums in Ukrainian music history. This neo-noir masterpiece with horror elements and the aftertaste of blood was released by My Personal Murderer, a band from Odesa. It is a walk under the rain along the night alleys of the dark city, where a murderer can wait around any corner.

41

ZAVOLOKA

ZAVOLOKA  (2017)

Kateryna ZAVOLOKA is an iconic musician in the Ukrainian electronic music space. Her cold, crystal clear music is a perfect soundtrack for living one’s dreams and experiences. Her SYNGONIA album is like a ram – it forces through the walls in your mind and evokes eerie, blood-curdling images.

40

Ptakh_Jung

Black Period (2018)

Black Period is a hypnotic debut album by the electronic music duo of Anton Dehtiariov and Volodymyr Babushkin. It is rhythmic, ambient, and extraordinarily unsettling music that can hurt with its dark beauty. Having released this work, Ptakh_Jung now makes us wait for new ones and this is what cruelty looks like.

39

KAT

Guernica (2017)

This album is pure art. KAT from Kharkiv has released its album inspired by Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. It’s as if their songs complement Pablo’s work. 

38

The Nietzsche

Finals (2018)

The Nietzsche is one of the brightest hardcore bands in Ukraine. They are tireless poetic hooligans and jokers who armed themselves with postmodernism. They started mixing the poems of Vasyl Stus, Danyil Harms, and William Shakespeare with hardcore music and bright, playful outfits. Their media stories like the trilogy about the love of two black metal musicians represent a different kind of art.

37

Boombox

The Naked King EP (2017)

It wouldn’t be right to say that the band’s full-length albums in the 2010s were poor. However, their singles and EPs of that time were significantly better. The Naked King EP is one of the best works of the band. The Ex («Колишня»), the concert set list’s favorite The Fan («Болєльщик»),  vigorous fit together with O.Torvald The Night in Rio («Вечір в Ріо»), a pulsing dramatic song Steel flowers («Сталеві квіти»).      

36

[O]

Superintrovert (2019)

This band mastered complex rhythms and melodies really well. The [O] band has released a cool fusion of everything around them. As a result, we got extraordinary pop music for the intellectuals that combines both jazz pieces and bright elements of Ukrainian ethnicity. Superintrovert is like a cocktail with an unusual aftertaste.

35

Small Depo

Дебильный/Retarded (2018)

Small Depo stepped out of their comfort zone of post-punk and released a truly beautiful and really important album about solitude, insanity, and fear. The Spotted («Был замечен») together with Zheka Kurhan is a masterpiece that takes the listener to the mind of the mentally ill person.

34

Zbaraski

Because I want so (2019)

Album Because I want so (Bo уa tak khochu) came out of nowhere and showed from the very first song that it’s something Ukraine has never heard before. It’s an unexpected combination of old-school R’n’B, soul, and hip-hop with Ukrainian lyrics which makes it an impressive debut.

33

Maks Barskih

Tumany (The fogs) (2016)

Maks Barskykh is probably the last real romantic in Ukrainian pop music. He’s writing melancholic songs about love and lost feelings and is doing it sincerely and beautifully. In this album, Maks reached the peak of his mastery. Meanwhile, he doesn’t seem like a regular sugarcoated pop hero – you actually want to believe him. 

32

YOURA

Plan B (2019)

Gryby’s split was useful for Yurii Bardash. His solo project called YOURA is a fresh and aggressive semi-autobiographical hip hop with truly wide energy. It’s intriguing and gripping and, what’s even more important, you can hear real strength and personality in it.

31

Jinjer

King Of Everything (2016)

We couldn’t choose between two albums for a while: Cloud Factory thanks to which Jinjer signed the iconic label Napalm Records, or their first album called King Of Everything released under this label. But in the end, we chose the latter. This masterful and hard rage of groove metal and progressive metal core makes the walls share and the fests all around the world invite Jinjer to participate.

30

Palindrom

Про сьогодні, завтра і вчора / About today, tomorrow, and yesterday (2019)

It’s an unexpected album from Kashliaiuchyi Ed, who was once in the Lviv rap band Hlava 94. It’s unexpected because Ed moved away from hip hop, and kept the melancholy inherent to him. This album dangles somewhere between hip hop, new wave, and trip-hop and creates a unique atmosphere of urban solitude.

29

MONATIK

Love It RHYTHM (2019)

It’s an uplifting album that testified Dmytro Monatik’s status as the King of Ukrainian pop. The crowded NSC Olimpiiskyi stadium sang the songs from this album, and it’s the first time in history when a solo singer from Ukraine gathered the full stadium for a concert. This album is about love, respect, and family as the foundation of success, dreams, and the success path you will definitely walk if you believe in yourself.

28

O.Torvald

Ти є / You are (2014)

This album represents O.Torvald at the height of their fame and, at the same time, a fixation of the prime band’s moment. Supported by Andrii Khlyvniuk (Boombox), the band led by Zhenia Halych recorded a mature album emphasizing not the volume of the sound but the depth of it and the confidence of the lyrics.

27

Krobak

Nightbound (2016)

The side project of Ihor Sydorenko, Stoned Jesus’s frontman, guitarist, and singer, has already ceased to exist. However, Krobak created a powerful album named Nightbound, where the complexity of the composition meets the ambience and tragedy of post-rock. Four music pieces represent four grand, full-scale stories.

26

iamyou

Частина Друга / Part Two (2013)

Iamyou have always remained in the shadows and came to the limelight occasionally only to disappear again. But we remember everything. The second album of iamyou is an endless space for experiments with pop music, trip-hop, and dream pop. It’s unbearably gentle, beautiful, and sad.

25

Poshlaya Molly

8 способов как бросить дрочить / 8 ways to stop wanking (2017)

Poshlaya Molly, a band from Kharkiv, always causes a storm – from non-acceptance to pure hate. With their album named 8 ways to stop wanking, they became a voice of the generation born at the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. They speak an absolutely different language and sing about the teenagers’ problems which often contradicts the parents’ perception of how their children live.

24

The Hardkiss

Perfection Is A Lie (2017)

Perfection Is A Lie fixed the moment when The Hardkiss became one of the main audiovisual bands of Ukraine. It’s as if, with this album, The Hardkiss decided to summarize their legacy in order to start from scratch and say goodbye to the old versions of themselves. Perfection Is A Lie is an inspiring e-rock story playing with Gothics; it’s bright and extraterrestrial.

23

Luna

Остров свободы / The Island of Freedom (2017)

The second full album of Luna made her visible for a wide audience. This album can be described as metamodern music with its sincerity, light-hearted and intoxicating naivety combined with the nostalgic aesthetics of the 1990s.

22

Trip Inside Me

Open One Of The Doors (2016)

Unfortunately, the band released only one album and split afterwards. But even this album was enough. This is a psychedelic work with the very first song carrying your mind far away with no chance to return. The album is whole, beautiful, and distressing, hiding a lot of emotions inside.

21

Pianoбой

Не прекращай мечтать / Don’t stop dreaming (2013)

Released in September, 2 months before the beginning of Euromaidan, this album has revealed a different Dmytro Shurov. He raised painful topics and deconstructed the image of Ukrainians. In his remarkable song named «Родина» (Homeland), Dmytro unintentionally predicted the following events in Kyiv.

20

YUKO (2017)

Ditch

YUKO, the flagman band of MASTERSKAYA label, released an album combining e-music with Ukrainian folk songs. Seems like nothing special, but somehow YUKO managed to create not only a bright dance music album but also to make Ukrainian language and folk music sound in a new way.

19

SunSay

Diver (2010)

Diver became the first individual expression of Andrii Zaporozhets, the then singer of 5’Nizza. Unlike the project’s debut album which was clearly influenced by the 5’Nizza duet, Diver has shaped SunSay’s style: percussion, exotic wind instruments, lengthy compositions, soul, and jazz as a basis. This album also has «Будь слабей меня» (Be weaker than me) which is one of the best songs of the 2010s.

18

Cape Cod

Echoes (2018)

Maksym Sikalenko аkа Cape Cod released Echoes in 2018. It is a dreamy dance work evoking light, summer-like feelings. It’s a complete and delightful album featuring a bunch of foreign singers. It’s the e-music Ukraine has been waiting for so long.

17

Jamala

Подих/Breath (2015)

Same as in O.Torvald’s case, Breath is 100% Jamala as she is. In her early career, she started with graceful soul but transitioned to an album full of versatile genres. Her songs like «Шлях додому» (The Way Home), «Подих» (Breath), «Очима» (With my eyes), «Иные» (Different) defined the singer’s future success. This album made Jamala into one of the main singers of Ukraine who eventually won Eurovision and performed to a full house of the Palace of Sports in Kyiv.

16

I Drug Moy Gruzovik

Стилизация послевкусия EP / Stylization of the aftertaste EP (2011)

This mini-album of the iconic band named I Drug Moy Gruzovik came out almost unnoticed and unexpected. At first, it seemed like the swan song of the band. Stylization of the aftertaste EP turned out to be a grim, sincere and bloodcurdling tale. This is a rare example of making music out of bass guitar and drums. Unfortunately, the band no longer exists. And it can’t be reversed. One can’t live one life two times.

15

One in a canoe

Один в каное / One in a canoe (2016)

This phenomenon of the Ukrainian music scene has packed all the great things they have in quite a lengthy album with 25 songs. There’s nothing groundbreaking about this album, but it just had to be released. In order to confirm that there exists a band that managed to grow to sold-outs in big concert houses of any Ukrainian city without any promos or rotations on music channels.

14

Nokturnal Mortum

Істина/Verity (2017)

The band from Kharkiv released a stunningly beautiful heavy metal album built on the foundation of the Ukrainian folklore with the elements of folk instruments. It’s a truly magnificent work you can’t simply go past.

13

Vivienne Mort

Досвід/Experience (2018)

Experience is an amazingly thrilling album from Daniela Zaiushkina and her band. Representing the quintessence of their music, the album, unfortunately, became the final point for the band. This is a fragile and very delicate work, in which a huge pain is hidden under complex metaphors.

12

DZ’OB

Beings for Throbbing EP (2018)

An electroacoustic band DZ`OB is a unique phenomenon for both Ukrainian and world music. DZ`OB serves two masters, making classical and electronic music meet. The sound is unusual, and intricate but always gorgeous. Beings for Throbbing is a perfect example of this unique beauty.

11

Stoned Jesus

The Harvest (2015)

Stoned Jesus released their powerful beast – The Harvest – in 2015. It’s a balance between an action-packed Here Come The Robots and Wound and vigorous, half-psychedelic travels like Black Church that still astonishes. This album made Stoned Jesus into one of the main rock bands of Ukraine and made them recognized abroad the country.

10

Kazka

Karma (2018)

KAZKA resonated with a compelling song about “being unholy” during the holiday. Their album named KARMA has the charming, melancholic, and sometimes tragic pop music saturated with ethnic elements that sounds fresh and hypnotic. No need to tell anything about their song called Plakala («Плакала»). It was the main song of 2018 (and the catchiest one). Overall, KARMA is a new page in the history of Ukrainian pop music.

9

Vagonovozhatye

Wasserwaga / Вассервага (2015)

Former members of the cult bands …And My Truck Friend, DOK and Liuk united in one of the brightest bands of Ukraine. Their first album Vasservaga is a thundering mixture of smart electronics and metaphorical lyrics, a revolutionary and unique album in Ukrainian music.

8

Ivan Dorn

Randorn (2014)

Ivan Dorn’s second solo album marked his transformation from a pop singer to something completely different, more complex and interesting. Experiments with electronic music and the Dorn’s signature sound appear on it. After this album, Ivan Dorn received dividends that allowed him to continue doing whatever he wanted. If his first album changed the game forever, Randorn ushered in a daring experimenter.

7

Oh, deer!

How to Stop Worrying and Love War (2017)

Zhytomyr band Oh, deer! released a record that reflects the spiritual and social state of Ukraine. This makes it a culturally important unit of modern Ukrainian music, because it is the confession of people trying to find a ground in the world of half-truths. Its terrible beauty is in music. Its horror is in poetry, thoughts about what the world turns into during the war.

6

alyona alyona

Cannon / Пушка (2019)

She appeared suddenly and caused a sensation with the very first clip. Refined flow, relevant sound, charisma, strange, hallucinogenic clips… alyona alyona is a bright and unexpected story of a lightning flight from the village of Baryshivka to Icelandic festivals and German awards. Her first album Cannon («Пушка») showed the world what Ukrainian hip-hop can be – and the world liked it.

5

Monatik

Sounds / Звучит (2015)

MONATIK is a vivid example of how to chase your dream. In 2015, this album was released, an album on which MONATIK released extremely bright dance and cheerful pop. He became his jump up, the stepping stone that led him to Olympiyskyi stadium and turned him into the king of Ukrainian pop music, no matter how pompous it sounds. 

4

DakhaBrakha

Light (2010)

Despite the fact that the band’s songs are rooted in Ukrainian folklore, the musical traditions of other countries are interwoven in the music of DakhaBrakha. And this was especially clearly manifested on the breakthrough album Light. With this work, the band fully deserved its own genre – ethno house. And it was after that DakhaBrakha took a big leap into the world, in which the band showed how Ukraine can sound. 

3

Hryby (Mushrooms)

DNA, part 1 (2016)

Their album was long awaited, tickets for their first concerts were immediately sold out, they were criticized, but there were no indifferent people. The song The Ice Melts became one of the most memorable, catchy and memetic songs of the 2010s. And the scandals surrounding Yurii Bardash and the breakup of the band also contributed to the hype. As well as the appearance of their clones like Bitz band. And the continuation of Hryby in the form of Grebz, too.

2

Onuka

Onuka (2014)

ONUKA’s debut album changed the Ukrainian scene. It gave birth to a fashion for the synthesis of electronics with folk motifs and instruments, which has not passed until now. A unique example for Ukraine of how a completely niche project started a trend and at one point made its author a star.

1

Ivan Dorn

Сo’n’Dorn (2012)

With this album, Ivan Dorn forever changed music in the post-Soviet countries. Despite the fact that we have already heard it all in Jamiroquai, Justin Timberlake and other world stars, it was with this album that the era of Dorn began, when it turned out that pop music in Ukraine can be relevant, fresh, non-trivial and, most importantly, we may not be ashamed of it.

Ivan Dorn took R&B, trip-hop, soul, funk, mixed everything into a big, multi-layered cocktail, after which not only music, but also the music industry of Ukraine changed.

Translator: Kateryna Kupriienko

Support our cultural media financially on Patreon or with a direct donation — we need it now.