Music has always been a world commodity. This is one part of a multi-part series showcasing some sounds from around the world.
This week we are smack dab in the middle of the B’s, and we will be hitting a former soviet republic, a Western European nation who is known for their fancy waffles, and a nation that used to be called “British Honduras” I can’t think of much in common between these nations, so without further ado, let’s start the list
Belarus is an Eastern European country, more specifically, one of the many former Soviet Socialist republics. However, unlike the rest of the “new Russias (as my fiance calls them)” Belarus’ is still dependent upon Mother Russia, going so far as maintaining the political mindset, enacting the same laws, and restricting the same liberties to its citizens…to appease their neighbors to the East. One would think that there wouldn’t be much to speak of musically, (like an Armenia or Azerbaijan) but there are some bands here. Let’s take a look!
One of the most popular (and polarizing) bands in the region has to be the band N.R.M (meaning Independent Republic of Dream in Belarusian). They have performed multiple times at regime change rallies, have had their music pulled from state-owned radio stations, and were actually banned from performing in their country for a couple of years. They sing in Belarusian and apparently have very political lyrics. Their sound is more of an alt-rock sound. According to a fansite, they were influenced by nirvana, and i want to say that i can see that, but to me, they sound more like Silverchair. Decide for yourself- here they are with the song “Factory”
The lead singer went on to form a new band, Krambambula, which appears to be a clever cover band. They take traditional Belarusian/Soviet folk songs and turn them into rock or hip hop tunes. They took their name after the national drink of Belarus – a party punch of sorts- a mixture of vodka, gin, and rum. I wouldn’t know because traditional Belarusian folk songs aren’t in English…nor do they have the English alphabet. The video I am going to show is for the single “Tourists,” presumably using the finest technology Minsk has to offer. This looks like they are in a scene from Nick Arcade. Remember Nick Arcade? There was always the Neo Geo trap. No one ever one that because no one ever owned a neo geo. The kids never stuck to a game plan. Stick to the sonic challenge where you have to get 50 rings in a minute, bet the maximum points, and then go straight to the arcade at the end. Also, when you’re in the arcade, and you’re staring at yourselves in the monitors, and what you’re doing isn’t really matching up to the screen, try something else, DON’T STAND THERE LIKE A MORON. Case in point: Warning: the audio is obviously dubbed.
Back to our programme, this is Krambambula with “Tourists”
TT-34 is your late 90’s-early 2000’s nu-metal band. They are from Belarus, however they are more popular in neighboring Russia. They are a nu-metal band, so it is like looking into a time capsule a bit. One trend I am noticing. It appears that shirts are in short supply in Belarus. Here they are teaming with rapper Seryoga for the song “Boom,” which was in the soundtrack for a major Russian horror/thriller/Russian film.
One song from these guys is not enough. Ever wondered what it would be like if Soulfly met Limp Bizkit and created a supergroup. I imagine it would sound like this song. This is TT-34 with “Jack.” Here they are with their single “Jack”
Open Space is an alternative/indie rock band who’s sound…is…well, they are in the what I call the “Justin Long teen comedy soundtrack” genre. We’ve had a few bands in this genre before Just take a listen to their single “Under Pressure” (it is in English, don’t worry) and tell me you can’t picture a montage of Justin Long cleaning up his _______ [room/house/dorm/yard/warehouse/whatever before _________ [his parents/the dean/professor/evil douche jock guy] shows up with the girl he’s in love with. Come on, you can’t tell me, you can’t picture him in a shopping cart with a broom sweeping assorted trash across the floor? Oh he’s so wacky! Am i right folks?
Do you think I’m really off base with this one? Comparison time! Listen to Open Space, now listen to this song “The Original” by Switchfoot. . . tell me there’s a difference in sound. I dare you.
Disane is a self-described “Southern Metal” band that formed in 2010, and the number one listed influence is “Lynyrd Skynyrd,” so when I heard this live clip from the Brutal Hippie Fest, I spent a good half hour trying to figure out “southern what?” because this sounds like Down. . . who is from New Orleans, ok, but that is not southern metal. Anyway, here is Disane with “Reality/Insane.” I would like to know if the lead singer is wearing capri pants or not. It looks like he is…
What if I told you that Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and Russian Premier Vladamir Putin had a lovechild and he was the lead singer of a Punk Rock band that formed in the in 1989? Well, look no further fans, let me introduce you to Neuro Dubel. This band has released a total of 13 albums including a greatest hits and a live album. Their sound isn’t as so much ‘punk’ as it is ‘alt-metal’ Here they are with the single “Kraj”
I am going to highlight a second live video by them for three reasons. One, this guy apparently is mr. personality. He hardly cracks a smile at all throughout the live performance. The crowd is totally into and he’s like ‘meh.’ Two, he even has the Thom Yorke head tilt down to a science. Lastly, look at those lack of shirts. Must be a hard life, having to fight for shirts all the time? Heere they are with their live performance of “Rubber Factory”
In our continuing quest to find weird combinations for music, I present to you Belarusian Ska-rapcore without comment. This is Chip and Dale with “Starushkin Youth”
Maks Korzh is a “rapper” in the same way that Black Eyed Peas are “rappers.” Here he is with the teen pop hit “where am I”
Belgium is a nation of 11 million people bordering Germany, France, and the Netherlands. They are known for high-end beers, waffles, and the movie In Bruges, staring Colin Farrell. To say they have a well-defined music scene given their location would be a safe assumption.
We will start with a platinum selling artist with a song that rose to number 2 on the UK and US charts. They ushered in a ‘hose-hop’ dance craze in America and have forever been immortalized in arenas worldwide, I am speaking none other than Belgian legends Technotronic. I don’t think any other introduction is necessary, because the song speaks for itself. This is the timeless “pump up the jam”
While the world was pumping up the jams, the alternative stations too were buzzing with the dulcet tones of Belgian music. K’s choice is an alternative band from Antwerp that reached #5 in 1996 with their song “not an addict” from the album “Paradise in me.” Every once in a while, I heard them on Lithium and…i’ve always been a fan of this song- it’s simple sound, the lead singer’s haunting voice, *shrug* I like it. I’m also going with a 1996 live version from this song as well. Here is “not an addict, live, from 1996.” Enjoy.
If you were a deep tracks alternative kid in the mid 90’s like myself, you may have heard this song on radio. I was fortunate to grow up listening to a, for lack of better terms, really good college radio station – WBRU Brown University. Their professionalism, the variety in music, the care behind everything, put them in a class above. Instead of regular college stations where it was like “ok, it’s my hour, we’re going to play ska because I like ska, so, let’s get into some ska.” Or “shoutout to my boys in _________ (insert dorm here) I know you’re listening right now. Yeah!”
for lack of better terms, a very good college rock radio station. I have seen many where it’s “ok, it’s my shift, I like ska, so I’m going to play the same 10 bands I like week in and week out,” but WBRU in providence took their music seriously. I remember hearing bands in regular rotation that I couldn’t hear on any station in Boston or Rhode Island. WBRU was like a 24 hour 120 minutes on MTV. Not only did they play the music, but it was done professionally.. They used to get to deep cut tracks late at night and I remember hearing this song back in 1994. dEUS was the first Belgian band to sign to a major international record label (Island Records) and sold 250,000 copies of their debut album “Worst Case Scenario” worldwide. Once you hear this song, you either remember it or don’t. This is dEUS with “Suds and Soda”
Also, let me show you this live version from 2012, and look at that poor fellow in the audience, in the intro…I hope I don’t become him in 10 years. I really do.
In a way, that guy reminds me of that old kids in the hall sketch…
Alright, we need to move on… Every once in a while, while doing research for bands, I have to laugh at what was written about them. Yes, this sums it up all too well, but it is just the way it is written. This group “enjoyed a rapid success, followed by an equally quick loss of public interest.” Who is worthy of such commentary? Why none other than Belgium’s own Benny B. Benny B was a DJ? Dance group? He was a poor man’s technotronic/vanilla ice/snow/you name it. Here he is with “Vous Estes Fous !”
Also of note, much like the neighbouring Netherlands, Belgium is home to many top-notch DJs/Dance groups including too many DJs, Lords of Acid and Front 242. Just an FYI…that’s all.
Staying in a similar arena, Hooverphonic is a trip hop band that has released 8 albums, but have never charted in America. I don’t need to mention anything else then after you listen to this song “Mad about you” your reaction is going to be “This is portishead, right? Portishead. Yep. This is them.” Here is where I would write ‘prove me wrong,’ but with this one, it’s ok. we both know this sounds just like portishead.
an original musical act Belgium’s Queens of the Stone Age. If you like Queens, or don’t like queens, or know anything about the band, that is all I need to say about this one. They have released five live albums (including a live album) in their 15 years of existence, and totally ripped of Blondie for the intro to this song “Let it Ride”
Absynthe Minded wins my award for creativity in band names. However, outside of that meaningless award, they are an indie band. . . . this is “envoi,” enjoy.
Moving on to
cookie monster death metal, there is a big scene here, so I will just quickly mention two of the more amusing names. Serial Butcher has been around since 1997 and finally released their first full length in 2010 (after two demos and two eps) “A Crash Course in Cranium Crushing,” here is the first single from this album, “Reduced to a Sausage”
Aborted has been around since 1995 and currently on Century Media records. They have produced seven full length albums and a DVD and…I want to say I might have seen them live at some point in one of those many festivals where like 100 bands play and all sound the same….One interesting note about this band, the band is an official supporter of “Metalheads against Racism” so, good for Aborted. Here they are with the single “Global Flatline” off the album of the same name.
Moving on to hiphop, we move on to F-Blaze, who wants you to know who he is “according to his swagga.” It doesn’t help that apparently all rappers everywhere must wear Yankees hats. Also, he wants to let you know that he swallows fake N’s like seafood. His accent is funny, it’s like he knows the words, and he’s almost there in getting the pronunciation done right.
Vizzle is also a rapper from Belgium, and if I have to make a comparison, I would have to say he sounds like Shyne. Remember shyne? Puffy’s fall guy for that night club shooting? Went to jail for 10 years? Remember him? ‘I wonder what ever happened to him’ he said foreshadowingly. Anyway, this is Vizzle with “Front Soldier.”
Belize is a tiny central American nation with the population of Anaheim or St. Louis. There isn’t really much to say about this nation other than they don’t have a big musical scene. They are content with Caribbean traditional music, but there are a few music acts I can showcase.
Of the traditional music genre, Aziatic is arguably the biggest thing to come out of this country. It sounds like tourism videos. So if you want to listen to the music of a tourism video for __________ (insert tropical destination here) then Aziatic is for you. Here he is with “Huya”
Ascenthium is a band who are literally in their infancy. They appeared on last year’s Belize has Idol Talent Voices (whatever their reality version is) and have a few demos online. They are just pure rock and roll I guess. Again, they’re too new to have their signature sound yet, but if you want to hear the future of Belize rock, these guys are as good as any. Here they are with “Invisus”
Lasher Zombie is Belize’s first death metal band. These pioneers released their first album in 2011 entitled “Back from death” and followed it up with the EP “Life’s Final Warning” that same year, but they appear to have been quiet as of late. One of their major lyrical themes are the Mayans, so maybe last December they disappeared again? I don’t know. Anyway, this is Lasher Zombie with “Ancient Mayan Gods”
Lastly I will move to hip hop, where we have our favourite Puff Daddy scapegoat, Shyne. For those of you who didn’t know- Shyne was born in Belize and is the son of the current Prime Minister of Belize. After his night club incident, he found his jewish roots and changed his name to Moses Levi. He spent a lot of time in Jerusalem and has become very good friends with Matisyahu…wait, what? Fast forward to 4:15 into this live clip, and you can see…there they are…*shrug* who knew.
That brings an end to this week’s journey. Next time we have a real eclectic mix that spans three continents. Anyways, with this, who knows, maybe there’s something that catches your ear…stranger things have happened. Thank you for reading…and prove me wrong, Vandals.