RAMESH :: "The King"

I've always felt a strange connection to Ramesh Srivastava. We've never met, but I did review his band back in 2005 when he was touring under the name Voxtrot. It was my first New York show and, perhaps more importantly, the first time I felt like I'd been firmly ahead of the curve on a band with the chance to break into the iTunes of thousands of people who simply didn't know them yet. Voxtrot did and didn't make it, generating three quality EPs before releasing an eventual 2007 LP that was both better than it was given credit for and also impossibly not what people imagined. In 2009, the band released a few singles and then announced their indefinite hiatus. Their final single, "Berlin, Without Return," eluded to their singer's flight to Germany in search of something, but certainly not the band's career. The chorus was a final nod from Ramesh to his band, a break up epitaph in the Hornby style. It might as well have said, "Yes, I did these things."

Ramesh emerged from the rubble, announcing his solo artist status on his blog and a winking, maybe bitter website, Rameshalwayswins.com. First release, "The King" isn't necessarily the triumphant counterweight to "Berlin, Without Return" and his previous band's final lyrics, "What do you know?" But, Srivastava continues to talk about himself and his career through these rhetorical conversations with invented women. The song's final act, "Baby, I'm the king and they're never gonna take me alive," is every bit a declaration of independence covered in strings and chamber pop flourish. Therein lies the beautiful contradiction. This is the sound of a man unapolgetically on his own but still in need of us.

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