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THE LIBRARY  / MODERN RUSSIAN MUSIC
27.01.2016


Each month the SRAS newsletter features Russia's current charts for pop, rock, and R&B! Youtube videos of the hit songs are included, as are new, monthly additions to this page.  


Modern Russian Music
Classic Rock, Modern Pop, Punk, and More!
another great project of The School of Russian and Asian Studies

The following Library entry is meant to quickly introduce you to the modern Russian music scene. We provide this information with the following warning: music is not known for always being grammatically or politically correct. If you are easily offended avoid the genres that will likely offend you. At the top of each listing, there are three links - 1) the band's (or a fan) site, 2) a streaming audio sample, and 3) an online record store with delivery in America.

 
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Table of Contents:

Color Code:   Red links are to sites only in Russian.  
                     Gray links have English available.
                    
 What is "The Library?"

 

Bards        report an error          back to top

For more info see: Bards.ru

Bards were (mostly) late Soviet dissidents. They sang poetic songs they themselves had written, usually to the accompaniment of a single musical instrument they played themselves. They remain popular even with listeners born after the bards themselves had died.

SRAS thanks Brian Horne for writing and contributing much of this section. Brian is a former SRAS student now studying the bards at the University of Chicago as a dissertation subject. 

 
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RASP-Blue

Kirill Komarov     Sample hit: Дым          Store
Kirill Komarov started writing and translating poetry in college. In 1984 he started writing lyrics for the rock band Присутствие/Prisutstvie (Presence), one of the main bands of Leningrad Rock Club. After leaving the band in 1987, Kirill Komarov started his solo career performing his own songs and touring through central Russia as an acoustic guitarist and singer. He experimented with many different musical styles, from rhythm-n-blues to hard-rock, participated in several bands, recorded several albums, acoustic as well as electric, playing concerts solo as well as with other musicians and bands. He is well known for his meaningful texts and unique style of each song.

Venya D’rkin      Sample hit: Кошка
Venya D’rkin  (real name Alexander Litvinov) was a Russian bard, poet, singer and writer of fairy tales. He started writing poetry at the age of 7, he learned to play guitar at 12, and founded a school band at 14. When registering for his first music festival he took the pseudonym Venya Dyrkin. After receiving one of the festival’s awards, he became known under this name. He wrote over three hundred songs, only half of which were ever recorded. As usual in the bard genre, the songs bear deep and imaginative lyrics, but, less common for bardic songs, are also very melodic. During the late 90's, he performed some of his songs with the accompaniment of other musicians, notably violinist Veronica Belyayeva. Although Venya died in 1999 (cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma), his music is still gaining more acknowledgement as time passes. This can be attributed to the fact that before Venya's death, just two of his albums were released, and even those were distributed in very small runs. He also never played in front of a large audience; most of his public performances were in music festivals and small, private concerts.

 

Shanson      report an error          back to top 
   For more info see: Chanson.ru

 
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Mikhail Shufutinsky      Sample Hit: Дороги в небо          Store
Mikhail Shufutinsky was born to an educated Jewish family and received classical training on the accordion, the bayan (gypsy accordion), and the piano. His musical career began playing in orchestras in Moscow. However, just before President Nixon’s visit to Moscow in 1972 he was one of several artists that were advised by the KGB to leave Moscow. He moved to the Russian city of Magadane, where he took up Shanson. He emigrated in 1981, moving first to Austria and then to Italy, but always dreaming of going to America. He believed that "only there would a Russian-language singer have the opportunity to resume his career." He moved to New York shortly thereafter. There, he built up a reputation among Russian immigrants, eventually becoming so well known that he was invited to perform in Russia after the fall of the fall of the USSR. He now works mostly in Russia, but still counts America as his home and his family is permanently based there. In what might be seen as twist of irony, Shufutinsky derives his popularity from the fact that he sings "pure" Russian Shanson – only in Russian – and with little sign of foreign influence.

Katerina Golitsyna      Sample Hit: Невозвращенка          Store
Katerina Golitsyna was born Katerina Yakovlevoi and started her musical career singing pop music in Moscow’s restaurants. In the 1990's she left the pop genre and began experimenting with folk music, including with American country influences, which she was exposed to during a stay in the US. In 2002, in what was apparently a flash of inspiration, she changed her name to Golitsyna and her genre to Shanson. Her first Shanson album was an instant hit. She is known for the strength of her voice, lyrics, and personality by fans that are usually very discerning of who they will accept as "genuine." She is one of the genre’s most prodigious artists.

 

Classic Rock        report an error          back to top
for more info see: RockMusic.ru

Vyacheslav Butusov     Sample Hit: Тихие игры          Store
Vyacheslav Butusov was the lead singer of the Soviet/Russian rock band Nautilus Pompilius, an influential band in the New Wave, post-punk genre of Russian rock music. Since the group disbanded in 1997, Butusov created his own group U-Piter in 2001, and since 2007 has been pursuing a solo career. 

 

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U-Piter     Sample Hit: Песня идущего домой          Store
The group was founded in 2001 by Vyacheslav Butusov (ex-Nautilus Pompilius), along with Georgy Kasparyan (ex-Кино), Oleg Sakmarov (ex-Аквариум) and Eugene Kulakov (ex-Пойманные Муравьеды). Since then Sakmarov left the group, but it has continued with the remaining three. With such an all-star cast, the group immediately became very popular and its songs are often heard on Russian radio. The group has toured in Russia and globally.

Tancy Minus     Sample Hit: Город          Store
Танцы Минус is a group started in 1995 and were first noticed by the music industry at the musical festival "Поколение 96" (Generation ‘96). Shortly after, the band moved to Moscow and performed in bars and clubs, sometimes playing up to three sets a day. By the end of the 90s, the band gained some broader popularity and their single "Город" (City) reached third place on the 1999 compilation "Хит-парада слушателей У1" (U1 Listeners’ Hit Parade). Lately the band “withdrew into the shadows,” giving very few concerts, rare tours, and almost no new song releases, although they faithfully participate in the “Нашествие» (Invasion) – Russian Annual Rock festival.

Gleb Samoiloff & The Matrixx     Sample Hit: Жить всегда          Store
After the well-known Russian rock group Agata Kristi (named after the mystery writer) disbanded in January 2010, Gleb Samoiloff (the former lead from Agata Kristi) and some other former members decided to create a new band. The result was Gleb Samoiloff & The Matrixx. The band has become immediately popular due to its already-famous members.

Rock      report an error          back to top  

Pyotr Nalitch     Sample Hit: Баба люба       Store
Pyotr Nalitch gained his fame by beginning his musical career solely over the Internet. His song "Gitar," with its tongue-in-cheek lyrics in broken English and primitively-made YouTube video, were what initially made Nalitch well-known. He began making all of his songs available for free on his website in 2007 and played his first concert with his "musical collective" ("Muzikalny kollektiv Petra Nalitcha,"often abbreviated "MKPN") later that same year. Their concerts were nearly always sold out and they decided to release their first album in 2008, which was self-produced by Nalitch.

Myrakami      Sample Hit: Нулевой км        
This rock-band from Kazan was founded in 2005 by musicians from Solntse-Ekran (Sun-Screen) and Dilyara Vagapova, who was then with the “Narodny Artist-2” (People’s Artist-2). The group immediately began a tour of the Kazan region. In August 2006, they produced their first album Chaiki (Seagulls). The band is named after Haruki Murakami, a Japanese writer whose books are filled with fanciful metamorphoses and delicately intertwines the philosophy of an average person consumed by a megapolis.

Angel NeBes      Sample Hit: Настя       Store       
Angel NeBes is a Russian rock-band founded in 2006 in Tula. In 2008, they moved to Saint-Petersburg to advance their careers further. They refer to themselves as a “theatrical-psychedelic rock-project” and supplement their performances with a whole spectrum of props, such as bedding, phones, globes, saws, folding cots, etc. The name of the group is a play on words which sounds like “angel of heaven” but actually means “Angel – not Demon.” 

SLOT      Sample Hit: Сумерки (Twilight)       Store       
SLOT is a popular Russian bands whose style varies from heavy electronic rock to rock-pop. Their first breakthrough came with hit movie “Boomer”  when two songs written by SLOT were featured on the film’s soundtrack and became the band’s first official releases. After a joint performance with Jonathan Davis of the American heavy metal band KOЯN, he praise them as “a great mix of Linkin Park and Evanescense.” In August 2011, their first English-language album, Break The Code, was released in US and Canadian music stores. In English speaking markets, they are known as “The SLoT.”

Pelageya     Sample Hit:  Ой, да не вечер!          Store 
Pelageya Khanova (Russian: Пелагея Ханова) or Pelageya, (born 14 July 1986), is а Russian singer. Named with an old Russian name after her great-grandmother, she sings folk-songs, traditional ballads, and compositions written by the members of her group, mostly in rock arrangements. Pelageya was born in Novosibirsk and recognized for her vocal talent since early childhood, receiving multiple awards. In 1997 she sang at Moscow's 850th Anniversary Pageant concert, was the sole performer at the Heads of Government of Three States Summit (Jacques Chirac, Helmut Kohl, Boris Yeltsin), signed her first label contract and moved to Moscow. During the economic crisis of 1999-2000, the label was not able to sustain the contract, so Pelageya, at 14, graduated school, entered into GITIS (Russian State University of Theater Arts) and, joined by other young music talents, organized a band which later was named after her. The group describes its musical style as art-folk and folk-rock..

 

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Not Quite Russian      report an error          back to top 
A few bands that are from places around Russia or are otherwise related to Russia that we thought you'd enjoy....

Ivan Dorn     Sample Hit:  Стыцамэн          Store
Ivan Dorn was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia, but his family later moved to Ukraine where his father worked at the site of former Chernobyl power plant. Until recently, Ivan was known primarily as a Ukrainian singer and TV host, but now his star is rising in Russia as well. He started singing at the age of six and very successfully coupled his love for music and singing with yachting, tennis, professional ballroom dance competitions, chess, and soccer. From 2007 to 2010 Ivan joined Anya Dobrydneva in a duet called “Para Normalnykh,” a play on the word “paranormal” (in Russian: “паранормальный”) that actually means “a pair of normal people.” In 2010, he started his solo career and in May 2012 came out with his debut solo album Co’N’Dorn (written with English letters). The name of the album appears to be “Dorn and Co” written in colloquial slang and backwards, probably referring to the fact that many of his songs were written in partnership with other artists and wanting to give those partners top billing.

Gogol Bordello     Sample Hit:  When the Trickster...          Store
This Ukrainian "Gypsy Punk" group speaks about problems common to their region and explores cultural misunderstandings between various groups. They do this with intelligence, sarcasm, Kerouac-style ramblings, and purposefully comic English. Highly recommended, at your own risk! The lead singer has also appeared in movies which approach the same issues in the same style. These include a wonderful release called Everything is Illuminated with Elijah Wood as a mono-lingual American who travels to Ukraine to reconnect with his Ukrainian-Jewish heritage.

Okean El’zi     Sample Hit: Я так хочу         Store
The group was founded in 1994 in Lvov, in eastern Ukraine and hit it big after moving to the capital Kiev in 1998. Shortly thereafter, the band began touring in Russia where they found they already had a large following of fans. Their songs are sung in Ukrainian by frontman Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, who became an official UN Ambassador of Ukrainian Culture in 2003.

Dantes&Oleynik     Sample Hit: Мне уже 20        Store
Vladimir Dantes, a former bartender, and Vadim Oleynik, who worked as a store clerk, first met on Ukraine's version of "Star Factory." The two were paired up and performed on the show where they won and decided to continue their work as a duet. After touring with other stars from the show across Ukraine’s major cities, the two set out on their own tour and finished up their first album to be released in summer 2010.

Boombox     Sample Hit: Концерты
The group was formed in 2004 in Kiev, Ukraine by Andrei Khlyvnyuk (vocalist), Andrei Samoilo (guitarist), and Valentin Matiyuk (DJ). Although their songs are all sung in Ukrainian, they have gained popularity and a large fan following in Russia as well.

Geegun     Sample Hit: Отпусти          Store
(Real name - Denis Ustimenko-Vaynshtein) This hip-hop artist from Black Star Inc. (a company founded and headed by Russian-language rapper Timati), got his start as a DJ and MC in Ukraine. He then began to collaborate with several local musicians, which led to creation of his first tracks. Geegun leads a healthy lifestyle and is actively involved in various social programs devoted to healthy nutrition. He is also a master kickboxer and a champion of Ukraine in hand-to-hand fighting.

Elka     Sample Hit: Прованс          Store
Elka is Russian for “Christmas tree.” It is also the stage name of Ukraine soloist Elizaveta Ivantsiv. Born to a family of musicians, she started singing when she joined a school choir. Her musical career began in school, when she joined the local KVN team. KVN is a sprawling competitive comedy league spanning much of the former Soviet Union. After participating in many bands over the years, both in Ukraine and Russia, and experimenting with many musical styles, from alternative rock and “heavy guitar R&B” (her own descrtiption), to reggae and pop-music, she has released many albums and received several Russian music awards.

IOWA     Sample Hit: Мама  
I.O.W.A. (Idiots Out Wandering About) - This group from Belarus wandered into the musical world in 2009. After series of very successful concerts in Saint-Petersburg, they decided to move their band to Russia (Saint-Petersburg) and since then have continued gaining popularity with their concerts and music videos and a unique style that mixes jazz, pop, and R&B.

Want More?      report an error          back to top 

We will be adding to this resource as we can. Planned additions include: Jazz, Blues, World/Fusion, Hard Rock, and Heavy Metal. A future Library entry will cover labels, producers, clubs, concerts, etc. in more detail. To be alerted of updates, subscribe to the SRAS newsletter by sending an email with "Subscribe" in the subject field to jwilson@sras.org.

 
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In addition, there is a new Yahoo! Group devoted to Russian popular music. Join it here.

What's currently popular in Russia? TopHit.ru has the latest info as well as archives! Or see MTV's Russian charts.

Russian Music Videos is a blog featuring a number of YouTubed Russian language music videos.

Russmus.net offers incredibly professional Podcasts that give detailed band histories and music samples. 

Ukiemusic is completely devoted to Ukrainian music.

Far from Moscow provides news on modern Russian bands and sound clips from their latest releases.  

Russia-ic.com has lots of history about Russian folk, classical, vocal, rock, and authorial music.

Music.Lib.ru and RealMusic.ru are free music hosting sites - apparently favored by amatuer rappers and shanson singers.

PromoDJ.ru is music hosting site that counts both professionals and amateurs among its uploaders.

Russian Language Podcasts is a weekly service from UCLA bringing modern popular Russian music to your iPod (or computer).

Russian Beyond the Headlines offers a modern music podcast.

Samsung Russia sponsors a legal MP3 website with relatively cheap downloads of a lot of Russian music. If you have a Samsung player, you get 250 MB free!

Also see Zvuki.ru, which has lots of free MP3 tracks.

Want to come to Russia to experience modern Russian culture for yourself?
See the programs at the School of Russian and Asian Studies!

This page was originally compiled and written by SRAS Contributing Writer Olga Dmitraschenko, SRAS Asst. Director Josh Wilson, and others as indicated. Thanks to all! Contact the authors 


Each month the SRAS newsletter features Russia's current charts for pop, rock, and R&B! Youtube videos of the hit songs are included, as are new, monthly additions to this page.  


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