As the idiots currently keeping their overpaid, corpulent backsides on the green benches in the Houses of Parliament continue making a complete and utter shite show of the political equivalent of chewing on a live hand grenade, I thought it time to rock up with another Out of Europe post.
And where better to rock up to, as it were, than Belgium? One of the smaller countries in Europe but densely populated and which also happens to be a seat of the European Parliament – cue the brainless barks of “our laws shouldn’t be made in Brussels”. I’ve only spent a couple of days in Belgium and that was in Brussels so I’ve yet to see what I’m told are the beautiful towns of Bruges or Ghent but I’m sure that can be easily fixed.
I will say that one of the real joys of this series I seem to have set myself (whether I can find five from every other member of the EU) is exploring those countries’ music and discovering acts I’d otherwise have had no awareness of. So while Girls in Hawaii and the obvious honourable mention here, and to some extent dEUS, were familiar to me the joy of getting new music and culture into my ears continues and continues to highlight what an absolute twatting pile of excrement the ‘leave’ vote really was.
Girls in Hawaii – Here I Belong
One of the few Belgian bands I knew… my wife got the first Girls in Hawaii (2005’s From Here To There album while she was living in France and so it has a special place in my heart as it soundtracked a lot of our driving about that country. A couple of years after their second album their drummer was killed in a car accident and it was a few years before they regrouped. I’ve not yet checked out their new album but this is from their third album Everest and while not as upbeat as their usual offering I love the slow build and pace of this one.
Plastic Bertrand – Ça plane pour moi
Because who hasn’t heard this? It sold nearly a million copies and Plastic Bertrand sits as one of Belgium’s biggest selling musicians with 20 million plus sales.
dEUS – Quatre Mains
dEUS were the first Belgian-based indie band to sign to a major record label and this one kicks off their most recent (2012) album of French-language rock.
Gorki – Red Mijn Ziel Vooral
So the whole language thing in Belgium is a bit of an odd one – the country seems split between French-speaking and Dutch-speaking. So, in the interests of fairness, I was hunting for a Belgian band that sang in Dutch. My digging lead me to Gorki who kicked off in 1991 with their breakthrough ‘Anja’ and follow up ‘Mia’ which appears to have dominated Belgian charts for some time. They kept at it for another twenty years only coming to an untimely end in 2014 when their singer, Luc De Vos, was found dead in his working apartment from acute organ failure. I’d already been struck by the moving sound of this one before I read that far and it seems to add something to the sense of longing in his voice.
Cecilia::Eyes – For The Fallen
Belgian post-rock? Go on then. I’ve been enjoying Cecilia::Eyes’ second album the last couple of days, Here Dead We Lie which seems to have a strong world war two theme, think Pink Floyd’s Final Cut. On second thought – don’t, that one is pretty shit. Thankfully most of this genre is devoid of words so there’s no chance of Roger Waters droning on painfully over the top of it.
Honourable Mentions go to Mintzkov’s ‘Life After Fire‘, De Portables’ ‘Col Phillins‘ and, of course:
Django Reinhardt – I’ll See You In My Dreams
Django Reinhardt nearly lost his life when the caravan he and his wife lived in caught fire when he knocked over a candle on his way to bed. His right leg was paralysed, and the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand were badly burned. They wanted to take his leg. He told em arseholes and left the hospital and was walking within a year. The use of his fingers didn’t return, though, so he developed a new technique which become known as ‘gyspy jazz’ and, to quote Wikipedia, his ” innovations on the guitar helped elevated it above its prior position as usually only a rhythm instrument.”
7 thoughts on “Out of Europe: Five from Belgium”
Love Belgium. So, er, flat. No, really, lovely country with gorgeous cities (especially those you mention). Talking of mentions, can I mention my favourite Belgian band?
They are/were called Univers Zero and if I can keep my flagging momentum up, will appear very soon in the Ten from 77 series.
Didn’t come across Univers Zero in my research but will add them to the list to check out
Tony, stop holding back on your thoughts about the government. Tell us how you really feel. 🙂 Interestingly, sounds like maybe I’ve spent more time in Belgium than you have. My very first excursion to Europe was on the now-defunct Sabena Airlines. And then some years later I was working as a consultant for a company who sent me to Nivelles (35km south of Brussels) several times. Quaint little city. Moules et frites. BTW, the Dutch and French over there don’t associate. Some guy told me the whole story. As to the music, a mixed bag for me I’m afraid. Apart from Django (all hail!), I probably wouldn’t listen to any of these on a regular basis. Having a post-rock guy in the family, I think I’m kinda over it. I kinda dug the Girls in Hawaii one in a laid-back way. But i’m glad you do these. It’s good for me to break out of my Americocentric comfort zone every now and again.
I had heard that about the two language contingents. I think, being the capital, Brussels was a bit more mixed but certainly French leaning in its appalling lack of courtesy / manners.
Oh and trust me; I am holding back otherwise I’d go full Lewis Black and pop a blood vessel 😀
This guy, who was Dutch and frankly, a bit of a dick for other reasons, went to some lengths to explain how he did not associate with the French. He told me how his kids only played soccer with other Dutch kids. BTW, this was Brussels, not Nivelles. In fact it was a guy from NATO in Brussels. As to the political sphere, I too am holding back from going on Facebook and totally unloading on President piece of shit. The reason I don’t largely is to keep the peace. Just about every last single one of my wife’s side are not only Trumpsters but die hard Trumpsters.
Enjoyed the 5. Like listening to a Belgium DJ. Nice touch ending with Django. Check out Bull Riding. No politics involved. The bull doesn’t know anything about it.
Interesting choice of Belgian music! Glad to see Gorki in your list, along with dEUS and Django. You can also check out my recent blog post on Belgian music giants. And, ehm, good luck with the politics in the UK! 😉