There was a time when every sensitive teenage boy had a Smiths’ Meat Is Murder poster on his wall and affected a melodramatic Morrissey croon for his high-school garage band. For Ramesh Srivastava, that time is now.
Srivastava, the literate leader of the Austin guitar-pop quintet Voxtrot, performs the most brazen Morrissey impression ever put on record with “The Start of Something,” a spirited slice of guitar jangle that feels like the Smiths’ “This Charming Man” turned sideways. Srivastava and his mates are obviously indebted to the music of the Reagan era, but fortunately they don’t limit themselves to the Smiths, and they’re skilled and sincere enough to make their derivative impulses work.
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Voxtrot celebrates an era when unabashed wimps could hold their heads high, raise their reedy voices in unison, and possibly even sneak into medium rotation on MTV. You can hear bits of Let’s Active, the chirpier side of the Housemartins, and the radio-friendly singles of the Cure on Voxtrot’s five-song debut EP, Raised By Wolves. When Srivastava sings with earnest desperation on the EP’s title song, “Have the nerve to leave me,” he speaks for hapless, psychologically castrated wimps around the globe. And it doesn’t hurt Voxtrot’s retro-pop credentials a bit when the group augments “Wrecking Force” with a guitar line straight from the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.”
With a new EP, Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives, due to hit stores on April 4, Voxtrot’s upcoming show at the Sanctuary is a de facto CD-release gig, and it should signal bigger things for this promising band. •
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