Austin-based Voxtrot’s “‘homoish’ reputation commingles with their buzz factor
Beggars / Play Louder
Nothing’s more critical to an indie band’s success than a grassroots following. The ability to generate a buzz can often spell the difference between a big break and a career toiling in obscurity. Currently finding themselves on the happy end of the buzz spectrum are Austin pop-rockers Voxtrot.
Led by singer and songwriter Ramesh Srivastava, the quintet began attracting critical acclaim after the release of their 2005 debut EP, “Raised by Wolves.” Bloggers were instrumental in Voxtrot’s early successes, including indie tastemakers Pitchfork Media.
But the blogosphere is also blowing up with questions about which team Srivastava plays for.
In a March 2007 report on South by Southwest, Dallas Voice printed that Srivastava was gay, which has now proven to be unsubstantiated. While speculation about the young songwriter’s sexuality continues to bubble up Qweerty.com loves the band and calls them “homoish” Srivastava and his publicists remain mum despite Dallas Voice’s repeated attempts to clear up the question.
Unlike Voxtrot’s earlier, poppier outings, this eponymous debut is darker and denser. Instead of shades of Belle and Sebastian or The Smiths heard on previous EP’s, this disc calls to mind hard-edged acts, like Interpol or Bloc Party. Production is top-notch, a vast improvement over the group’s self-produced efforts. Although arrangements are largely straightforward, elegant strings add depth to the band’s tight piano-driven pop. As has been the case in the past, Srivastava proves a formidable songwriter, with his cleverly cryptic Morrissey-meets-Robert Smith musings.
Instant faves include the Kinks-flavored guitar rocker “Kid Gloves” and the apparently same-sex love song “Steven,” which could have been ripped from Queen, circa “A Night at the Opera.” Other hidden gems include the rocking “Firecracker” and the jangly-guitar infused “Easy.”
While mainstream stardom has yet to find Voxtrot, indie buzz bolsters this young Texan fivesome. As they continue to tour in support of their debut, you can expect to hear more about this band, and its charming and enigmatic frontman.
Bloc Party’s sold-out gig at House of Blues last Saturday was the absolute jam. With more charisma than Barack Obama, gay singer Kele Okereke, pictured, belted out a soulful performance that had him running up to the second balcony and diving into an an ever-appreciative crowd. At one point, Okereke even attempted to climb up the two-story drapes that flanked the stage. The four-piece London band were tighter than airport security.
Daniel A. Kusner
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 28, 2007