These days, it seems like the only way to put out a surefire, across-the-board approved record is if your band comes out of nowhere. The main culprit last year was a little act from Montreal, and the year before that it was a different band from that same city. This year’s newest candidate, Voxtrot, is from Austin, a city that, you might recall, used to be pretty hip and would spit out an up-and-comer every few months. Maybe it’s time the kids from the little-college-town-that-could take the power back.
With its first release, the five-song Raised by Wolves, Voxtrot is indeed capable of bringing the focus of the hype-machine back to the United States. The band had the hometown advantage at South By Southwest this year and justified the slight buzz with several notable appearances and many highly touted shows at New York’s CMJ festival. Raised By Wolves concisely serves up what the band has hinted at during its diverse and energetic sets.
Vocalist Ramesh Srivastava formed the band as a casual outlet for a few songs he’d constructed, but the strength of the songs was undeniable and his home-recording project spawned the full-time band. The title track nicely lays Voxtrot’s cards on the table, the jangly ’60s-pop intro giving way to perfect shifts over the guitar-pop map. This fey, gleeful pop – similar to what we’ve heard from, say, Love, the Smiths, the Lucksmiths – continues through “The Start of Something,” where Voxtrot casually bounces and skips through the pondering of a new romance.
But Voxtrot is diverse enough to avoid being pigeonholed as another Smiths knockoff. “Missing Pieces” plugs in and turns up the amps to recount where all this endearing affection hits the fan. “I would do much better if I thought there was any other reason/ to keep away the beauty from the dirt,” Srivastava belts, and he means it. Swathed in echoes of reverb, it’s the EP’s strong centerpiece. “Long Haul” could be a peek into Stuart Murdoch’s songbook, bells and handclaps overlapping the EP’s gentlest ballad. Raised by Wolves climaxes with “Wrecking Force,” a perfectly layered and echo-drenched clincher. It’s rare when an EP can sell you on a new band, but Voxtrot has more ideas in these five songs than many bands spread over a full album.
“The Start of Something” MP3: http://www.voxtrot.net/TheStartOfSomething.mp3
Voxtrot on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/voxtrot