We Recommend | VOXTROT - Cut from the Stone: Rarities & B-Sides
It’s been over a decade since cult indie group Voxtrot called it a day.
Achieving critical acclaim when active in the mid- 2000s, their debut EP Raised By Wolves introduced a group that were equal parts tender and melancholic, but also sprightly — filtering earnest lyricism through sanguine, jangling guitar melodies. In their absence, the band maintained a devoted following whose dedication ultimately led to a reformation of sorts.
Awoken from a dream in which the five-piece were performing live once again, frontman Ramesh Srivastava began scrolling through the Voxtrot hashtag on social media. The assortment of fans covering tracks, Voxtrot tattoos and old photos became a moment of realisation. What this led to, was the unearthing of old material and the release of Cut from the Stone: Rarities & B-Sides.
As the name suggests, the compilation includes forgotten demos, previously unreleased tracks, and a collection of B-sides from the group’s handful of singles. With the acoustic-take of ‘The Start of Something’, the quintet deliver a stripped back version of the track; raw and honest yet with an undertone of immediacy in the frantic guitar accompaniment. ‘Whiskey & Water’ is faster than the original, while the previously unreleased ‘Fifteen’ showcases a hesitant nature, dripping with existential loneliness amid a cheery backdrop that lends the song an emotionally heavy undercurrent.
Fan-favourite 'Berlin, Without Return' places Srivastava’s crooning vocals at the forefront. Compared to the original track, it plucks out the theatrical orchestration and strings, building layers with his voice alone to fill the looming space. Permeated with clattering drum beats and sense of overwhelm, the group prove their masterhood of urgent-pop. While ‘Loan Shark’ doesn’t stray far from the original recording, it’s a beautiful forlorn ode of sombre musings that supports an inquisitive air drifting through. The reworked B-Sides ‘Dream Lives of Ordinary People’ and ‘Dirty Version’ both encapsulate a dreamy, near-elegant atmosphere, as the vocals captivate with crystal clear precision. As the latter ascends in a rising duet, there’s a hopeful tinge to their melancholy shining through.
Ending on ‘Warmest Part of Winter’, a track lifted from the Little Darla Has A Treat For You V.24 Summer compilation from Darla Records, Voxtrot pull back from the full-bodied, synth-filled score of the original in lieu of an isolated sadness. Subdued and gentle, without losing the creeping urgency that’s followed Voxtrot from EPs through to their debut album, there’s a nostalgia warmly sitting at the core of the compilation — a sign of a band that ended all too soon.
As the group rear their head once more, the compilation suggests a softness with inklings of nervous hesitancy. Soon to embark on a run of September tour dates across the US, fans are left to wait in hope of new music and a full-scale comeback. And, it goes without saying, I would offer up my first-born for a UK show. Hint hint.
Cut from the Stone: Rarities & B-Sides is out now on streaming platforms. It’s limited to 500 copy run on vinyl sold-out within a day.