Polish, Russian, and East European Studies
After spending a lot of time and energy on Hispanic Studies and East Asian Studies, I’m just going to phone this one in and let you look up these labels yourselves. It still took quite a long time to compile. I feel much less qualified to judge quality for this region and would never have looked into it but for the gaping hole where American labels used to be. That said, and to repeat the theme of these exercises, there’s a lot of worthwhile stuff out there for those willing to sample. I was going to combine this with the Middle East and Africa, but after digging in with rudimentary Cyrillic searches it was clear this needed its own post. One more “advantage” of Poland, Russia, and E. Europe appears to be a much greater likelihood than elsewhere that the labels have 2019 releases available in relative abundance (though I wouldn’t trust most dates on eMusic very far, especially for these). Welcome to the Slavic cutting edge…on eMusic!
Poland (Keeping eMusic jazz alive!):
Approved- Kalejdoskop (wildly indescribable); Karrot Kommando (pop, rock); Thin Man (P indie rock, synth pop); VRS (alt. & prog rock); AGORA S.A. (pop, rock); Plexus of Infinity (jazz, metal, world, experimental); Astigmatic (jazz, electronic, experimental); MTJ (post-punk...Siekera, Klaus Mittfoch,Brygada Kryzis..., oldies, classical, jazz);
Hit & Miss (at least a couple titles of interest)- Polskie Radio (jazz); Lou & Rocked Boys (punk); Bartosz Leśniewski(krautrock); Step (hip-hop);
Questionable- MyMusic Group (pop, easy listening & cheese); Sound Art (blues); Aloha Entertainment (hip-hop); Aptaun(hip-hop); Asfalt (hip-hop); 83Nagrania (hip-hop); Embryo Nagrania (hip-hop); Biuro Ochrony Rapu (hip-hop); NNJL Jakub Gendzwill (hip-hop); New Media (hip-hop, pop);
Rejected- Luna (randomness); Agencja Artystyczna B.M. (Eurotrash discopop); Wydawnictwo Muzyczne FOLK (utter trash synth-pop);
Russia (Given its ongoing status as the original Napster on a national level, it may seem especially silly to pay money for Russian music, but hey, there’s a slightly greater chance of an artist getting paid if purchasing through eMu, right? I gather Russia must be a very hard place to avoid, let alone create, something other than pop.):
Recommended without reservation (I could imagine hearing/playing lots on U.S. college radio)- MARS Records(instrumental rock, folk rock, jazz, electronic); Свет и Тени (punk, post-punk, goth, Alt. rock, synth-pop, hip-hop…think Sub Pop & Polyvinyl); Bastard Boogie Tunes / Союз Мьюзик (electronic); Ledokol (electronica); Recordzman (some indie rock, pop); FANCYMUSIC (classical, jazz, electronica); I am sadly unable to judge which Russian hip-hop label is the best, so they’re all in sections below.
Found one or two interesting titles for the Wishlist- Embers (electronic); Ionoff (all genres and looks cool with v. large catalog); Lasmus (classical, electronic, experimental); Assist for Artist (solo piano, pop); A+ (hip-hop, pop); Content Chaos (various electronica); Monolit (pop); Russian Techno (pretty obvious); SELF Music Publishing (rock); Startup (pop, electronica); Treesare (rock); Moveton (techno); Новая Школа (hip-hop); Студия СОЮЗ (Soyusmultifilm…pop); Союз(pop, hip-hop); Первое Музыкальное Издательство (pop, hip-hop, rock); Выргород (rock, experimental); ООО «Национальный Цифровой Агрегатор» (rock); Flaxyz (hip-hop, pop); GMC (pop, metal...Nokturnal Mortum..., electronic);
Up to your ears in mediocrity- Triartum (electronic, pop); MALFA (pop singles); Siyah (hip-hop); NTA Electronic; OOO “Мэйнстрим Продакшн” (pop); Союз Мьюзик (pop, punk, rock, hip-hop); Борт номер один (RU) (Alt. rock); Diamond(electronic, pop); TAPOCHQA (hip-hop); Lavina (rock); Глория Медиа (pop singles); Stolica (darker hip-hop); Decent Rap (hip-hop); OneMuz (hip-hop, pop vocalists); AVK Продакшн (pop, hip-hop, rock); Стихия Мьюзик & Чудесаунд / Союз Мьюзик (two labels of hard rock); NBS (trance, hip-hop, pop); ООО "Продюсерский центр И.Матвиенко” (folk, rock, pop, church?); SHUFFLE RECORDZ (rock, ska, electronic, hip-hop); MAESTRIC music (pop, hip-hop, rock, acoustic pop); А+/Студия СОЮЗ (pop, hip-hop); Magic Cat (hard rock, metal); Blat (blues, punk, pop, hip-hop); AFERA (hip-hop, beats); Trend (pop); Издательство «Хорошая музыка» (folk pop, hip-hop); UMI & Microphone Global & Лаборатория звука (3 labels of pop); ActOrchestra (hip-hop, beats); Zeon (synth-pop); IVXX/A+ (pop, hip-hop); Idenline (pop); 42 (hip-hop, pop); ООО "Р-Концерт” (pop); KM Music Label (pop); SUTYXIVE (hip-hop); TuneCloud(trance singles); AVEC (pop, electronica); Brand Music Records (pop, solo piano); Digital Project (pop, hip-hop);EPIGRAFF (dubstep); General Hits (hip-hop); GFM (hip-hop);
Nyet. Just nyet.- Maxim (a lot of garbage and pop); RMG (R Eurotrash electronic pop); Recordsman (R pop vocalists, electronica); Dvamira (synth-pop); ООО "ВВВ.РЕКОРД” (old pop vocalists); ООО «Верго Мьюзик» (spoken word, pop); Meladze Music/Первое музыкальное Издательство (pop, pop vocalists); ООО "Медиалайн” (old pop); ООО "Издательство Монолит” (pop vocalist, pop, spoken word); THT-Телесеть / Первое музыкальное Издательство(singing pageant contestants); Greenstar (R Eurotrash synth-pop);
Eastern Europe neither Poland nor Russia or mixed sources (Identifying exactly where some of these are from proved too difficult.):
Approved- VIDLIK (Ukraine, pop); ECDC (Hungarian rock, pop, folk); Gusstaff (rock, electronica); Jimmy Jazz (rock, punk, folk); Michal Przerwa-Tetmajer (jazz); Prosto (hip-hop);
Questionable- Szpadyzor (hip-hop); Take It Or Leave It (rock, world, pop); Hood’G’Fam Entertainment (hip-hop); Musideco (EE classical);
More detailed but still brief label descriptions and evaluations are here: http://www.omnifoo.info/pages/eMusic%20Labels.html
As for specific recommendations, I’ll admit that I wouldn’t consider downloading anything from most of these labels unless it’s 99 cents, which incidentally is not in short supply. I’d hope the top picks have something even for someone with no regional interest at all (i.e. someone who just likes rock, jazz, or electronic music and doesn’t care where it’s from).
Individual favorites from the region (including Balkan stuff): Sarakina; Paul Lyytinen Magnetia Orkesteri; Arek Czernysz Trio; Nazar Kozhukhar & The Pocket Symphony; Balkan Paradise Orchestra; Onuka; Budka Suflera;
Found Mr. Trololo’s single, too: https://www.emusic.com/album/212890822/-/------- If you’ve been living under a rock, the internet sensation lives here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oavMtUWDBTM and is differently hilarious here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQ78IlJs5JQ I presume Эдуард Хиль is his name, and I’ve seen interviews on Youtube, if you want the full story.
Many of the Polish labels, especially Kalejdoskop and Karrot Kommando, are at least worth sampling, as is the electronica on Ledokol. Hard rock fans should sample around in SELF Music Publishing and Thin Man for lighter, synthier stuff. Свет и Тени https://www.emusic.com/label/839089/--?sortField=POPULARITY&descending&pageNumber=1 has something for everyone, and from 2019, if you’re willing to sample. If you’ve got a particular interest in the region, language ability (I’ve a sneaking suspicion some of what I labeled Polish might be Czech or something else), hip-hop and electronica are pretty well served. Strike that. I’d wager that there’s now more Polish or Russian rap on eMusic than there is in English. Separately. Combined, it’s not even close. Much more likely I’ve missed significant labels here, as I lack the lingo skills. Go listen and comment, please!