Beards, Blazers & Glasses: Voxtrot
I've seen Voxtrot three times this year. The first time they blew me away at the absurdly small UCLA Cooperage (a Pizza Parlor cum rock venue), where they managed to get the small predominantly college crowd moving and wowed me with their surprising confidence, crisp chord changes and Ramesh Srinastava's Morrisey-inflected vocals. That show, coupled with the 10 perfect pop songs on the Voxtrot and Mothers, Sisters, Daughters and Wives EP's, sold me on the Austin,Tx. quintet.
But when I saw Voxtrot again in May it was nothing short of a complete disappointment. Booked at the notoriously-tough Wiltern, the band struggled to fill the venue's high ceilings and barn-like space. All in all, it looked like a performance from a band not ready for prime time. Flash forward six months and one EP later and Voxtrot was back in LA, promoting Your Biggest Fan, their third short-player this year. (According to reports they haven't been able to find the right producer for their full-length, a strange move considering the prolonged wait has allowed buzz to die down considerably.
With only three new songs, it seemed almost old hat to see Voxtrot again. While the performance wasn't disastrous like the aforementioned Wiltern show, the band turned in a rather listless set on Wednesday night. Frontman Srinastava did his best to amp the crowd, pogo-ing around relentlessly and frequently raising his arms like a long distance track champion. Meanwhile, the rest of the band played like pack of low-rent heroin junkies slowly weaning themselves off opiates.
Voxtrot's Ramesh Srinastava: A Graduate of the House of Pain "Jump Around" School of Live PerformanceThe band seemed exhausted, Srinastava's voice thin and flat, the chord changes slow and plodding, the energy low. The band's lead guitarist and bassist seemed to be having a contest to see who could move the least on-stage, maintaining stone-frozen facial expressions, occasionally lifting their arms to deliver an uninspired guitar riff. At one point, the band brought a girl with a butch haircut to shake a tambourine. Standing center stage, she turned her back on the crowd and barely even played the instrument. It almost felt like a joke.
In fact, the band's best performer on Wednesday might've been drummer Matt Simon, who turned in a good show as always, frantically and vainly trying to propel the band's songs forward. The thing is Voxtrot are a talented band, one blessed with a potentially great frontman who can craft literate and beautifully constructed pop songs. But at this point, it's a two-man show and until the rest of the band can catch up to their lead singer and drummer, they'll remain underwhelming and rather boring live. There were high points during the 50 minute set, particularly a rousing and energetic encore of "Rise Up in the Dirt," but it seemed too little too late. Like many bands in the indie pop genre, Voxtrot hasn't yet mastered how to translate the rich and full sound of their studio recordings to a live setting. In the meantime, I'll certainly be waiting for a Voxtrot full-length, but I won't be catching live them anytime soon.
Download: "Rise Up in the Dirt" from the Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives EP (right-click, save as)
Download: "Heaven" (Talking Heads cover) (right-click, save as)
And go to You Set the Scene for Voxtrot's new single "Trouble"
The Round-Up:For the first time in years, it seems as though mainstream hip-hop doesn't suck. The Wu-Tang seems revitalized (at least as much as possible). Lupe Fiasco dropped a very good debut. The Roots have returned to form. The Game's album is great. The new AZ is solid (more on that next week maybe) and with Nas, Jay-Z and Ghostface albums slated to drop over the next month, rap has become worth talking about. But now there's even more reason to think so because Pharoahe Monch, one of the greatest and most sorely underrated rappers of all-time has released a new single streaming now at Pitchfork. The song, "Push" is pretty great. But even better is the fact that he apparently has a new album coming out. Which I imagine will be a lot better than hearing Puffy's Pharoahe impersonation on Press Play.
Stylus is currently running a list of the 50 Greatest Live Albums of all Time. Your friendly neighborhood blogger handled Led Zep's How the West Was Won, Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsy's album and The Grateful Dead's Europe '72.
I know this is way old, but somehow this piece on Defamer got very little circulation around the Internet. Specfically, the fact that Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park attended the Academy Awards on Acid. Makes sense.
Here's a question. Who wrote the following sentence: "It's easy to forget that 50 Cent is one of the greatest rappers in the world." Is it a) Lloyd Banks b) a 13-year old in Des Moines Iowa, who hasn't listened to music made before 2003 or is it c) Pitchfork. The answer? Obviously Pitchfork.
This Yahoo article speaks to the guy who invented the wave 25 years ago. For that I hope he's forever forced to rot in hell.
If you live in LA, check out the newly launched website Fresh Red, which seems to have the most comprehensive online list of LA concerts on the Internet.
Go to Goldenfiddle to see Spencer Sloan's brilliant three reasons why The Killer's Sam's Town sucks.
Idolator discovers a gem: U-God's Myspace page where he gives couples advice, including advice on how to give a really good massage. I kid you not.
Lastly, some blogs to Check For:
Midwest Bias: Particularly, their series on the greatest video games of all-time. #1, Legend of Zelda.
Floodwatch Music, one of the best music sites I've read in a while. Anyone who blogs about Afu-Ra, EPMD and the Smashing Pumpkins all in the same week, is always worth reading.