Ukrainia The Maiden

On paper, Ukrainia could easily be compared to Eastern Bloc punk roustabouts Gogol Bordello, but anyone willing to do so is missing the point. On The Maiden, the band's second LP, Ukrainia find their distinctive voice, even if said voice is delivered in Ukrainian. Unlike foreign language acts like Sigur Rós, Dungen and Malajube (for roughly 70 percent of Canadians), Ukrainia connect to the English-speaking listener with healthy doses of naiveté and optimism rather than beauty and grace. Mining the spirit of traditional bandura music (although nobody in the band actually plays a bandura), '60s surf rock, three-step waltz and a bit of Elvis's drollness, The Maiden works well even after the novelty wears thin. The pure ambition and know-how behind album closer "Burning Pine" shows Ukrainia as songwriters who work just as hard convincing audiences that they are foreigners (spoiler alert: they're from Ottawa) as they do keeping this crazy idea alive. (Independent)