Song of the Day: Vox Von Braun – When Did You Become So Popular?

Vox Von Braun

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Morning Show host John Richards, is “When Did You Become So Popular?” by Vox Von Braun from the band’s 2008 album, Something Ain’t Wrong, on Subroutine Records.

Vox Von Braun – When Did You Become So Popular? (MP3)

A swagger is missing in modern rock. There was a time when Billy Idol would curl his lip, Mick Jagger would shake his hips, and David Bowie would comb his hair — all of them oozing self-confidence. Those days seem buried under compression pedals and bittersweet love songs. However, it just seems the days of rock ‘n’ roll cool have returned to Europe, and you need look no further than The Netherlands’ Vox Von Braun. They ain’t much to look at and they’re definitely not going to wow anyone with their chops, but damn if they don’t carry themselves — and “When Did You Become So Popular?” — with a catty strut. Sure, American revivalists such as The Strokes have pretended to hoard New York cool as if they were 1970s Lou Reed replicas, but emulation is easy to spot when the real thing stands shoulder to shoulder. With Vox Von Braun, it’s about smoking cigarettes while leisurely working through classic rock/pop without breaking a sweet or daring to do more than what the melody calls for. Call it art. Call it pretense. Call it stupid. The one adjective you can’t deny Vox Von Braun is cool and “When Did You Become So Popular?” is full of it.

Alas, for the time being the Holland residents have no North American dates scheduled, per their MySpace page. However, if you’re heading out their way, Vox Von Braun are playing the Eurosonic Festival in their hometown of Groningen, The Netherlands, next week, and they’re performing a Subroutine Records showcase, SR020, on Friday, January 16, along with labelmates (and fellow Song of the Day podcastees) AC Berkheimer, among others. Might be worth jumping a plane, no? But just in case you lack the means to do that, Vox Von Braun is cool enough to allow video evidence of their machismo in this live cut of “Julia”:

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