Les Disques Lexi founder Catherine Plenevaux’s 17 favourite Belgian releases

Les Disques Lexi is the micro label of Catherine Plenevaux, who’s been running the Brussels-based imprint since 2008. About to release the debut album of Capelo, an upstart duet, we asked her to select some of her favourite Belgian releases for us. Get ready for a weird and wonderful trip through the Belgian underground.

1. Amoureux Solitaires – Lio (7″ Arabella, France, 1980)

Adolescence is not a time of crisis but a time of revelation. Facing reality, delusion is at the cross roads and you’ll need serious make up to make it through. Maybe a bit of chemistry too. This genuine and dark song is probably one of my favourite popular tracks ever written and I still can’t understand how its sweet cruelty and smiling anger could ever reach the charts.

2. I Can’t Live in a Living Room – Red Zebra (7″, Zebra Records, 1980)

Irresistible post-punk anthem recorded in Zomergem and a classic floorfiller since 1980. What else can I say? Listen to it 100 times, then listen to it again – you’ll never get tired.

3. When The Fall Is All That Is Left – Ignatz (I hate This City, Conspiracy, 2011)

With a friend of mine we noticed that in every venue we go around Europe, there’s a sound engineer playing Ignatz in between concerts. This one song is naked and beautiful as is 90% of what Ignatz is writing. Belgian history will remember him, I’m pretty sure of it.

4. La Polonaise – Pierre Normal (Pierre Normal, CD, Pneu, 2007)

Pierre Normal might not be a belgian group per se but some of them live in Brussels and the group could be seen as the glorious offspring of the belgian 80’s wave, let’s say Polyphonic Size for example. The label, Pneu, is not only a partner of les Disques Lexi run by friends but also an old cultural activist group I have much respect for. They promote the Palais-Chalet parties in Brussels which is every time a drinking and dancing black hole as well as an opportunity to see emerging bands from the international underground. Rachel Sassi, the singer of Pierre Normal, is currently my favourite female singer in town – sharp, distant and funny.

5. Jupiter Festival – Mitt Land Och Leo (My Land and Lion, 7″, Ultra Eczema, 2011)

The catchiest single released on Ultra Eczema (and the easiest to find on youtube as well). But why not? I love to play this song in the early evening, its aerial sound and retro vibe suits the end of the day especially with a couple of heavy drinks.

6. Ce qui est pris est pris – Bruno Coeurvert (Untitled compilation, Cdr, LéBo Disques, 1999)

Ideally placed between The Smiths ‘Shoplifters of the World’ and Kumisolo ‘Chapardeuse’ in my imaginary compilation about fair trade, this song from Bruno Coeurvert is an earworm that I still joyfully sing under the shower after 15 years. Bruno Coeurvert is an excellent singer-songwriter, one of the best in French-speaking Belgium nowadays, he never makes things easy. This youtube version is less minimal and synthetic than the one I knew but you get the idea.

7. Life’s a bitch and then you die- Bear Bones, Lay Low (Smoked The Whole Thing, Cassette, Sloow Tapes, 2011)

Ernesto Gonzalez, the prolific and talented young man behind BBLL, is one of my favourite psychedelic musician living in Belgium and half TAV Exotic with Weird Dust aka Mike Crabbé (Lexi012). This song is unsually melancholic for this normally joyful, passionate and enthusiastic buddy. But it’s a good pick. My favourite track of BBLL changes with my mood. Today it’s this one. If you want to see every connection Ernesto Gonzalez has with the Belgian underground, check out the unbelievable map David Menessier and Benoit Deuxant just made about the belgian scene since the seventies.

8. Public Relations 2 – Public Relations (12′, Another Side, 1987)

Coming straight outta the potato fields, early new beat for the dark and rainy nights. This dirty pearl reminds one of the underground roots of new beat. Public Relations later released on another Belgian pride, R&S Records. But in the inevitable new beat section I don’t mind dancing on a good mainstream ‘Rock to the Beat’ or on ‘A Split Second’. This last one states the importance of a clumsy DJ or of a lucky accident.

9. The Land of my Dreams – Anna Domino (East and West, Les Disques du Crépuscule, Belgique, 1984)

This cover of Aretha Franklin has the glossy trademark of Les Disques du Crépuscule, an inspirational label that pretty much gave me everything: the sense of adventure with a taste for pure elegance, an aesthetic vision, the feet in Brussels and the ears open to the world. Check their first compilation ‘From Brussels with Love’ or the Thick Pigeon 7″ ‘Subway’. ‘The Land of My Dreams’ has the cold beauty, touchy feelings and loneliness of a woman sadly in love.

10. Zingt Hendrik Marsman en Karel van de Woestijne – Edgar Wappenhalter (7″, Les Disques Lexi, 2012)

It’d be pretty weird if I didn’t mention any release of my own record label, wouldn’t it? Every release of Lexi Disques is equally good in their mother’s heart but this one is the chance for me to pay a tribute to Sloow Tapes that released this song first. This psychedelic publisher is often reaching excellence with its wonderful artwork and connoisseur choices.

11. Meteor Shower – Orphan Fairytale (Comets Come Alive, LP, Blackest Rainbow, UK, 2012)

Sweet and anxious tune for this otherwise dancing lady from Antwerp. I listened to Meteor Shower so many times in 2012 that I’ll need another 10 years to digest it.

12. Dans la Forêt – Les Brochettes (Sous mes bandages, des Cicatrices, CD, Brut, Belgium, 1995)

At school there was this Les Brochettes demo tape circulating from walkman to walkman, a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy, the sound was terrible but the tape became obsessional and that’s probably what firmly rooted my taste for lo-fi recordings. When ‘Sous mes Bandages’, the real recording, was finally out, it sounded unsuprisingly weird to me: too neat. But i guess not for the fresh listener.

13. Golay – De Portables (Lab.Top, CD, Ubik, 1999)

These were the nineties. At the end of it, you could still smell them so very much in every rock production. When kids listen to these records today, they think they all sound like Pavement. But humour, good vibes and energy was also part of it all and this song is particularly full of all these things. Is it available on youtube? Of course it’s not. So I put a live performance of the band instead. Ubik, the label behind this release, has been a role model when I started Lexi: 7-inches, silkscreened covers, personal choices only. Philippe Delvosalle who founded Ubik has another label now, Okraïna. Check his crafted and delicate releases, you won’t be disapointed.

14. La Nuit – Adamo (7″, La Voix de Son Maître, 1965)

Adamo is Belgian music for your grandmother but this one is less conventional than it appears. It tells how the night alters the human feelings, turns them into obsession. It’s pure discreet genius. The Pneu crew is again responsible for this nice discovery: No man is an island.

15. Afruita – Lawrence Le Doux (Terrestre, 12″, Vlek, 2014)

The playful sounds of the wonderful Laurent Baudoux meets the irresistible artwork of Dimirti Runkkari on this brilliant Vlek release. Brussels is small and the music community open-minded enough to gather in the same spaces, share the stage, share a beer and support each other – even when not fighting for the same music chapels. It keeps your brain active, your curiosity alive and pushes you outside your comfort zone. Since the eighties (well, at least that’s what people told me) Brussels dances equally on the Cramps and on new beat. As one might say: it’s in the mix.

16. Breakdown – Carol (7″, Dirty Dance, 1981)

In the Belgian 80’s new wave classics, i could have chosen Snowy Red, Satin Wall or Bene Gesserit – all on the  extraordinary release of Sandwich records, the seminal B9 compilation. But this one with its weird rythmic and approximate vocals is an all-time favorite.

17. Loupiotes – Benjamin Franklin (7″, Les Disques Lexi, 2008)

The first record on Les Disques Lexi is a very old desire. Benjamin Franklin put out graceful and mysterious home-taped recordings in the late nineties that he gave  me at university. Some of his songs got my legs shaking and my belly feeling weird at shows. I loved it immediately and it never changed. Ten years after I could finally find the energy and money to release a record with him. Benjamin Franklin is also part of Le (Collectif du) Buffle, one of the secret gems of the Brussels off-scene. Xavier Garcia from Buffle made one of my favourite albums in the early 2000’s using the moniker Saule, it was released by Sub Rosa. Sub Rosa has released another personal classics: the Rudy Trouvé/Lou Barlow Subsonic split album. If the song ‘Xmas Family Dinner’ or any of the sound from Saule was to be found on youtube I could have included it in this selection as well.