Finding gems in Voxtrot’s ‘Cut from the Stone: B-Sides & Rarities’

Darren Puccala, Life and Arts Reporter

For those who closely followed Austin music in the early 2000s, it can be argued that no bigger name existed in the local indie-pop scene than Voxtrot. Founded by Ramesh Srivastava, Voxtrot established humble origins in Austin, where the band quickly gained traction. After the success of their first EP, Raised by Wolves, Voxtrot continuously picked up momentum, performing across America and on international stages. Despite their success, Voxtrot disbanded in 2010, announcing what many fans assumed to be a permanent end.

After a decade-long break, Voxtrot made their surprise return to music this year with their newest album, Cut from the Stone: B-Sides & Rarities, released July 22. The 10-track collection culminates in a love letter to Voxtrot fans, composed of unreleased versions of beloved 20-year-old songs accompanied by new tracks that showcase the maturity and emotional development that came with the band’s hiatus. 

Voxtrot proves very aware of the familiarity appeal that comes with their original work, with two tracks on the project, “The Start of Something” and “Your Biggest Fan,” being demos. While the tracks remain just as strong, the updated demo versions incorporate new, more stripped-down instrumentals to create a uniquely intimate feeling of nostalgia. The reimagined versions make an impactful and important addition to Voxtrot’s catalog, teasing a new beginning for the group while also acknowledging where Srivastava and the others have come from.

However, both songs do feel like a slowdown when listening to the album, and with the release of Early Music, an album that is completely dedicated to their older work, it comes into question whether the album needed both demos. However, the double-edged sword is equipped with a dull blade as these songs still remain highlights of the project with just how well crafted they still are after all these years. 

Cut from the Stone introduces fans to six completely new tracks and reintroduces two singles released right before the band’s dissolution: “Berlin Without Return” and “The Dream Lives of Ordinary People.” Both tracks feel mostly pedestrian but fundamentally solid in both the album and the band’s total discography. Incorporating a violin that swells and cascades listeners into an outro that pierces through accompanying drums creates a beautiful ending that complements the optimistic storytelling from Srivastava on “Berlin Without Return” and a unique guitar performance in “Dream Lives.” 

The remaining six new tracks on the album give fans a glimmer of hope for the group’s future. Voxtrot steps outside of their comfort zone with songs like “Warmest Part of the Winter” and closing track “Dirty Version,” two longer songs offering underlying emotional depth that has always been apparent in the band’s lyricism. While these songs do rewrite the formula of a typical Voxtrot song, they still hover in the same indie singer-songwriter sphere as some of the band’s other classics. “Dirty Version” makes for a very nice and fitting end to the album that circles back to innocence with a simple, childlike piano melody. The return of vocals performed by Jennifer Moore, a key contributor to Voxtrot’s earlier works, also contributes to this nostalgic, remorseful feeling. 

While Voxtrot’s Cut From the Stone will satiate fans who have long awaited the band’s return, the release still leaves many unanswered questions for Voxtrot, a band that still feels reliant on past success and hesitant to share their voice. Although Cut From the Stone sufferers from a lack of signature tracks and fluctuating momentum, the album showcases some of the band’s best songwriting to date and a very consistent tracklist that opens a new realm of growth and possibility for the Austin band. 

3 uncut stones out of 5