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Vox Von Braun
Rich & On Wheels Theo Ploeg , February 15th, 2013 00:18

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There is something interesting going on in the Dutch underground. For the last ten to fifteen years much music made in The Netherlands was a dull, cheap pastiche of British and American pop. There were exceptions, of course, such as the material released on the Narrominded record label, but it remained unnoticed outside the underground niche. Things have changed. Dutch indie rockers Nikoo were picked up by Pitchfork in 2010 before Dutch media did. Rats On Rafts gained more success in the UK than in Holland. 2012 was the year the Dutch neo-indie renaissance took off.

The albums by psychedelic rockers Space Siren, college indie rockers The Sugarettes - (Joep van Son and Mariska Louman who are also in Nikoo and an handful of other bands based in Eindhoven) and The Don't Touch My Crouque-Monsieurs (based in Amsterdam and making al blend of indie, hard rock, hiphop and traditional Dutch music) gained a lot of attention. Though they failed to get on the best Dutch album of the year list that is compiled every year by 3voor12, the biggest and most influential platform for pop music in The Netherlands and associated with broadcasting company VPRO. It's a strange situation, but typical for the growing gap between mainstream pop culture and underground in The Netherlands.

Will Rich & On Wheels by Vox Von Braun narrow the gap? Probably not. With a good show at the annual Noorderslag/Eurosonic conference (where their record label Subroutine hosted an own label night in an Irish Pub called The Sound Of Young Holland), good reviews in several Dutch newspapers and probably a short gig in prime time television show De Wereld Draait Door (DWDD) next week the odds are good. But is the short span of media-attention enough? Frankly, I think the four young lads from Groningen couldn't care less. Rich & On Wheels, their second album after Something Ain't Wrong (2008), breathes a 'I don't care' mentality. In a way it also reminds me of the laid-back sound of Herz Aus Gold, last year's debut album by Die Heiterkeit from Hamburg, Germany. Both bands make a different style of indie rock/pop but share the same feeling, as if they want to stress that they make music for fun. Take it or leave it.

To be honest, that's the most attractive aspect of Rich & On Wheels: it's hopelessly unpretentious. Some Dutch reviews mention the childish choirs, simple melodies and lyrics as being a disadvantage, but to these ears that's actually what makes Vox Von Braun so damn fine. Yes, of course, there is nothing new about the sound of their music. It draws heavily on bubblegum pop and garage rock of the 60s and psychedelic and indie rock of the 80s - nothing special. But the warmth, passion and simplicity of the songs is enough to make you cherish this record. Rich & On Wheels is a pure pop album combining golden melodies, hooks and stories about men with money and big cars, love and the things everyone does or dreams about.. the best indie rock record to come out of The Netherlands in recent times.

Richard Foster
Feb 15, 2013 5:39pm

3 young lads and one lass! But otherwise Theo speaks sense and truth to power. Yowsa!

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