The Trolleyvox
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Mike Bennett Reviews, September, 2003

The Trolleyvox
Leap Of Folly
(Groove Disques)
groovedisques.com

No offense to her four bandmates, but any discussion of The Trolleyvox must begin with Beth Filla. Her warm voice is the immediate appeal. It's not one of these modern, show-offy voices. It can be dignified, playful, even sensuous. Her singing is somewhat in the folk rock tradition, and ‘voxer Andrew (ex-Wishniaks) Chalfen's songs showcase the most appealing aspects of her instrument. As writer Stewart Mason noted, in an internet comment about this very record, why aren't their more of these jangly pop-rock records with female vocalists, since it seems like such a natural combination.
This is particularly true when the songs are literate adult-pop. The tunes here are about as good as recent material from contemporaries like Dolly Varden and Rosanne Cash and, going back a bit in time, 10,000 Maniacs (before Natalie Merchant became insufferable) and Stevie Nicks (before she became insufferable). Everything is just stepped up a bit from the last Trolleyvox disc, which is probably just natural improvement.

So you get to hear sublime stuff like "Oregon Lanes". This song has layers of nifty stuff going on. It has a galloping rhythm and sounds somewhat like a mellower Pretenders (like "Kid" or "Don't Get Me Wrong") or a bit more energetic Everything But The Girl (back in their pre-dance music days). Chalfen empties all the guitars out of his closet, strumming some acoustics, playing leads -- counterpoint leads, including a light twangy guitar to compliment the bottom provided by Greg Dubrow's bass. There are splendid harmony vocals and a typically strong performance by Filla. The song is about two folks who almost connect. Filla's voice captures the ambiguity of the dynamic, sounding alternatively winsome and weary.
On this song, she holds on to syllables in a way that gives her voice a unique edge. Yeah, it makes more sense when you hear it -- I think it's pretty sexy. This is all in support of a cool hook in the chorus, where the melody goes on a sudden incline that is totally aces. It even has cool lyrics: "Near as we can be to not quite" -- this is simply wonderful.

"Singing Telegram" conjures up a Buckingham-Nicks collaboration. The song is a slow acoustic burn. This song is as stripped down as could be, with drummer Ken Buono coloring in his rhythm parts lightly, supporting the acoustic rhythm guitar. This is top notch folk-based pop, that builds a memorable atmosphere, rather than relying on a killer hook. On the other hand, "Air Companion" is a track that uses a quiet verse-more intense chorus to great effect and no wonder -- the song takes off, with Filla's voice powerful yet nuanced, riding the soaring melody: "Are you in love?/Then why are you so sad?/Are you in love/with a trick of the light?". This is a song begging to be covered -- is anyone reading this review friends with Bonnie Raitt?Annie Lennox?

However, "Le Fleur De Lys" can only belong to The Trolleyvox. The music is a spoonful of sugar to allow the bitter lyrics to go down easier. Chalfen's words are reminiscent of Elvis Costello when he was a really angry young man: "You're mending defenses/with anti-depressants/you've got yourself a Maginot Line." The song itself seems to be an ‘I told you so' to a friend who got hitched to the high school Big Man On Campus, and now things ain't so hot. The performance has a specific energy that is captivating.

Maybe The Trolleyvox will be part of a vanguard of jangly bands with strong female vocalists. On the other hand, maybe the quality of this record might intimidate others, because they set a high standard here.
http://www.fufkin.com/columns/bennett/bennett_rev_09_03.htm
- Fufkin.com


I bought this for myself a couple of months back from Groove Disques, and it has been my most played CD this year. I have listened to it every day, and some tracks 2-3 times in a row. A handful of CDs in the last 20 years have affected me that way ... The Replacements "Let It Be," Robyn Hitchcock's "I Often Dream of Trains," and The Smithereens "Especially For You" and R.E.M.'s "Reckoning." Produced by Adam Lasus (Madder Rose, Helium), this album features brilliant but understated songs by Andrew Chalfen (The Wishniaks), and the wonderful smokey vocals of Beth Filla. This album is simply the best that jangle pop fans could hope for. Jim Huie
- Jim Huie - Paisley Pop


The Trolleyvox
Leap of Folly
(Groove Disque)
Truly, one of more moving, emotionally impactful releases we have heard in 2003, thus far. So much to communicate here but, first off, Trolleyvox have a sound reminiscent of The Gripweeds in a more folky mood, kinda of like playing The Black Watch or The Sundays. The opulent loveliness here is overpowering, this is something special and we beg you to just check out some of the soundbites - they do capture some of this beauty. Guitarist/songwriter Andrew Chalfen (Wishniaks, Joey Sweeney) and his talented co-conspirators crafted a cool, sparkling glass of popa perfect lazy Sunday listen, full of chiming chords and winding melodies (Philadelphia City Paper)the ringing, big, hollow-body Rickenbacker-Byrds kind in sonic approach. The unpretentious, cagey vocals from budding star Beth Filla soar and seduce, often in intricate harmony, and knockout drummer Ken Buono (Flight of Mavis, Buzz Zeemer, Dragstrip Courage) channels all that is great about the golden age of `60s melodic drumming. Wow. How do you top that? Well, with increased confidence, emotional depth and a more subtle compositional brush and palate, create an album of epic momentum that is at once reassuring and breathtaking. As on Ephemera, studio mastermind Adam Lasus (Madder Rose, Versus, Clem Snide) deftly sculpts The Trolleyvox studio sound in a way that is at once modern, yet informed by great recordings by the Beatles, Byrds, and Who. There does seem to be a bit of 1966-era innocence and possibility swirling about The Trolleyvox. Hit singles for imaginary radio stations! Folk rock for the post-hip! Their Leap of Folly could be your brand new discovery. One of the best of the year......Extremely Highly Recommended.
- Notlame.com


THE TROLLEYVOX
Leap of Folly
(Groove Disques)
US release date: 22 July 2003


by Gary Glauber
The Trolleyvox are a musical anachronism, creating chiming, guitar-based folk pop with female vocals that seem of another time entirely. It's different from what you're likely to hear now, and is overall a fresh sound that is at times quiet and contemplative, and always engaging. Imagine a U.S. version of the Lilac Time fronted by a warm intelligent female voice (that of Beth Filla, who seems to be all that and more).
Leap of Folly is a perfect collection for extended listening, a solid and lengthy soundtrack for lazing through a winter afternoon lost in your own thoughts and emotions. While vocalist Filla was off in grad school pursuing her master's degree, songwriter Andrew Chalfen mastered some impressive new songs that are showcased here. Chalfen, formerly of the Wishniaks and Joey Sweeney, is the main creative force behind the music, writing the songs, playing guitar, bass, piano, and whatever it takes to get his ideas across.
He is joined at various times by Greg Dubrow (of the Idle Wilds) on bass, and drum duties are split between Ken Buono (Flight of Mavis, Buzz Zeemer, Dragstrip Courage) and Bret Tobias (Moped, the Bigger Lovers).
While Chalfen is the man behind the music, the most distinctive aspect about the Trolleyvox is Beth Filla's expressive vocals. Recruited though a "vocalist wanted" ad in a local Philadelphia paper in 1996, she auditioned and won the spot in what started out first as an acoustic duo, then built slowly into a full gigging band.
Now confidently leading the way, Filla's interpretive vocals turn Chalfen's songs into magical journeys, whether floating expectantly above the guitars or casually relating the stories contained within the lyrics. In the same way that Natalie Merchant did early in her career, Filla is able to achieve a lot with a little. Her vocalizations are never overly showy; they match every song's specific requirements. She's the universal voice of that ever-appealing smart woman, and when she sings, you listen.
There's a lot here: 14 songs in all that distinguish themselves over time (at first listen, several of the songs may sound similar, but repeated listens will prove otherwise). It's hard to pick a single favorite here, as there are many moods and flavors to choose from. From the pretty guitar intro notes on the first track, "Dome of the Sky", to the more acoustically folk-like somber feel of the closer, "Hours and Miles", this is quite the musical collection.
"Oregon Lanes" vies strongly for single consideration, an upbeat examination of bowling and the happier side of modern relationships: "The many happy returns / The ache of regret, the plan abandoned / When I think no one connects / You prove me wrong over and over / Near as we can be to not quite / Every little thing is alright".
"Town and Country" focuses on the tiny details that may hold meaning in our lives, the changes wrought by age ("All the stuff I own is breaking down") and the familiar "leap of folly" of focusing on nostalgia and dreams of relationships that never were.
Easily the most infectious melody here (sounding like something simple and Cajun) is that of "Le Fleur de Lys". The lyrics cleverly explore one whose supernova has burned out long ago and the ensuing aftermath: "Ah, you used to tread so cool / Back then no one could touch you / Light years out of school / Now you're down on yourself and walking on eggshells / Your velveteen braveheart will fill up your dance card / With lessons in how to be lonely / You're mending defenses with anti-depressants / You've got yourself a Maginot Line".
"Green Light Cascade" is a slow-building epic that achieves grandeur in its eloquent discussion of dalliance, obsession and love. More intriguing delving into aspects of love are to be found in "But That Don't Make It Right". Chalfen has an admirably witty and indirect way of touching upon deep matters and emotions in lyrics. Yet his music is also strong. Give a listen or three to "Chesterman", his masterful instrumental number here and I bet you'll have it inside your head long after.
Produced by Adam Lasus (Madder Rose, Versus, Clem Snide), there's a clean, simple acoustic feel to the music. "Singing Telegram" is a beautiful piece of folk-rock, musically as dreamy as the lyrics that ponder, "dreaming of a new day to come".
Ken Buono does a nice job with the stutter syncopations of "Goodnight Heat Lightning", while Bret Tobias does equally well with the drums in "One Day". "Outerbourough Getaway" addresses those who manage to escape the city for the summer, even temporarily, and features Chalfen sharing harmony vocals with Filla. "Air Companion", one of the later tracks on the album, is also a favorite. Again, here is the questioner of love, patiently asking questions while impatiently reaching conclusions about that elusive state: "Walking around on endorphins / The swe - Popmatters.com


THE TROLLEYVOX - PRESENT THE KARAOKE MELTDOWNS - TRANSIT OF VENUS -
I have to say, I love that album title. This latest offering from
the Trolleyvox (their 3rd, but 1st for new Philly label TOV) opens
with a short, sweet piece of jangle ("preamble") that guitarist Andrew Chalfen seems to have an endless supply of, before blasting off into the indie-guitar / power-pop bliss that is "Just You Wait." In short, it rips. Produced by Chalfen and esteemed engineer / mastermind Adam Lasus, the Trolleyvox sound bigger and better than ever, and what's cool is that they don't sacrifice anything for it. The production is clear and everything sounds great - especially Beth Filla's sultry voice, Ken Buono's kick-ass drums and Chalfen's now-patented guitar sound. They can go 'quiet-style' and pull out the tear-jerkers as well; a perfect example being one of my favorites of the record, entitled "Pale Star Land Line," which is simply, undeniably beautiful. After a bit of a vacation, the TVox are back in full force - lucky for us. You should check this record out pronto.

Jeremy Grites

- DaggerZine #39


Trolleyvox

Fri., Oct. 20, 9pm. $8. With BC Camplight + Novenas. North Star, 27th and Poplar sts. 215.684.0808. www.northstarbar.com

It takes only a few spins to realize the genius of the new Trolleyvox album lies not in its sparkling sheen but in the heady psychedelic wordplay beneath. Lines like “bodyguards for bottle doppelgangers” sit alongside biting mentions of dirty bombs and selling out to oilmen—behavior summed up as “our hypocrite waltz.” It’s easy to miss that stuff while taking in Andrew Chalfen’s hooky power-pop workouts and Beth Filla’s sugary singing, but it’s the fervor and color of the lyrics that make The Trolleyvox Present the Karaoke Meltdowns this Philly institution’s best showing yet. (Doug Wallen)

http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/view.php?id=13210 - The PhillyWeekly - October 16th, 2006


9.18.2006
Review: The Trolleyvox | ...Present The Karaoke Meltdowns

Only becoming aware of his lengthy resume after the fact, we first heard the work of Trolleyvox songwriter and guitarist Andrew Chalfen when he was a sideman with Philadelphia-based indie stalwart Joey Sweeney in the mid-'90s. In this role he added piano to Mr. Sweeney's excellent debut solo EP Heartache Baseball and performed with a short-lived Sweeney lineup that included Alex Kemp and Phoebe Summersquash of Small Factory/Godrays. That was a long time ago. Sometime during the intervening years we moved away from Philly and forgot about Mr Chalfen and what he might be up to. That is, until we caught wind this past July that Chalfen would be releasing a third full-length for his long-running guitar pop project The Trolleyvox. The set, entitled The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns, packs equal parts folk-rock and power pop into a hook-filled baker's dozen compelling tracks.

Front and center in the Trolleyvox sound is Chalfen's dense guitar work and singer Beth Filla's bell-clear vocals. "I Am Annabelle" is ushered in with a Townshend-ian lick before striking jaunty poses across an understated, syncopated verse and chorus; "Deep Blue Central" also has an acoustic The Who feel. "I Know That You're High" touts a soft attack that knowingly winks in the directon of The Byrds. The set skids a bit with the feather-light strummer "Twilight Hotel," but is instantly redeemed by the infectious album highlight "Joyride." It's not all classic rock influence -- fans of the aforementioned Small Factory and acts like Miracle Legion will find a lot to like among these 13 tracks. The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns streets Oct. 17 on the Transit Of Venus label. Additionally, Transit Of Venus plans to release a Trolleyvox double EP next spring.

http://www.clickyclickymusic.com/
- Clicky Clicky Music Blog


The Trolleyvox -
The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns
by Michael Pelusi


The third disc from Philly indie-pop perfectionists The Trolleyvox receives the unwieldy, yet still catchy title The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns (Transit of Venus). It's an appropriate moniker for an album that is arguably their most assured and diverse yet. Songs such as "I Am Annabelle" and "Stoplight Roses" show that the group — led by guitarist/songwriter Andrew Chalfen and singer Beth Filla — is still tops at wedding winsome melodies to big-beat drum tumbles. And "Deep Blue Central" (which uses the sound of horses trotting in Old City as a rhythm bed), "Twilight Hotel" and "Pale Star Land Line" count among their most beguiling ballads. No mere pop idyllists, the band gets their political ire on with "Baby You Were Lied To" and "Just You Wait." (The latter makes its point doubly clear with a video available on the band's MySpace page.) With Chalfen and Filla getting help from collaborators familiar (Adam Lasus, Bret Tobias, Scott Rogers) and new (Brian McTear, Amy Morrissey, Owen Biddle), The Karaoke Meltdowns proves to be a most delectable kind of night out.


Fri., Oct. 20, 9 p.m., $8, with B.C. Camplight and The Novenas, North Star Bar, 27th and Poplar sts., 215-787-0488, www.northstarbar.com.

http://www.citypaper.net/articles/2006/10/19/The-Trolleyvox
- Philadelphia City Paper - Published: Oct 18, 2006


4.5 out of 5 Stars
The third album by the Philadelphia's the Trolleyvox (now basically down to singer Beth Filla and guitarist-songwriter Andrew Chalfen, plus a rotating cast of guests) is a huge leap beyond their already impressive earlier work. The album kicks off with the impassioned call to arms "Just You Wait," a textbook example of how to write a politically-charged pop song without preachy name-calling. The urgency of that two-minute opening blast seems to energize the rest of the album, because unlike the relatively mellow jangle pop of 2003's Leap of Folly, The Trolleyvox Present the Karaoke Meltdowns has a full-on rock and roll kick even on mid-tempo tracks like the harmony-heavy "I Know That You're High." Even the handful of acoustic tunes, including the lovely "Deep Blue Central" (which makes surprisingly effective use of a field recording of a horse and carriage for its rhythm track), sound more direct and engaged. Matching a uniformly excellent set of tunes to Filla's alluring vocals — as always, she's the best thing about the band — The Trolleyvox Present the Karaoke Meltdowns is the sound of a group ready to make an impact beyond the tiny power pop scene. It might work, too: the not-at-all-subtle get out the vote video for "Just You Wait" was a YouTube favorite passed around the left-leaning blogs just prior to the 2006 mid-term elections. - By Stewart Mason
http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE5731CDE4EAF7F20EE90324BDBB57DD208D14FB48D112D5652FF982078BA157DFD0DA4C6CCB6E577B479A9B32FA4500BD4C0EA57ECAD1B&sql=10:gxdkylm6xppb - AllMusic Guide


November/December 2006

The Trolleyvox
The Karaoke Meltdowns
Transit of Venus

The Trolleyvox have been working this potent groove of Beth Filla’s gorgeously earthy vocals and Andrew Chalfen’s sinewy guitar and haunting songcraft for the better part of a decade. The band’s new album and third release overall, Karaoke Meltdowns, is a lush, melancholy and muscular display of the quartet’s considerable and diverse talents and the logical extension of their first two acclaimed releases, 1999’s Ephemera for the Future and 2003’s Leap of Folly. The combination of Filla’s breathy gypsy vocal vibe and Chalfen’s dark and moody contemporary classicism is like a brilliantly low-key blend of Aimee Mann fronting Guided by Voices (“Onion is Missing”), the (not so) Innocence Mission (“I Know That You’re High”) and (way more than) 10,000 Maniacs (“I Am Annabelle”). The Trolleyvox don’t do anything that is the slightest bit obvious, which means the first few listens float by pleasantly enough without much notice. Then you’ll start thinking of Trolleyvox songs when you’re listening to something else; that’s when you’ll realize how deeply they’ve hooked you.

- Brian Baker
- Amplifier Magazine –


Discography

1999 - Ephemera for the Future - CD - Groove Disques

2002 - "Is Vic There?" Dept. S cover on "The Stiff Generation: Stiff Records Tribute Album" - Groove Disques

2002 - "Crows on a Phone Line" - Let's Active Cover on "Every Word" Let's Active Tribute Album on Lost Outlaw Records

2003 - Leap of Folly - CD - Groove Disques

2006 - October- The Trolleyvox Present the Karaoke Meltdowns - CD - Transit of Venus - Produced by longtime Trolleyvox producer Collaborator Adam Lasus (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Helium, Madder Rose, Clem Snide). Played on over 185 college radio stations with top 30 charts on more than 40 of them and breaking into the CMJ (College Music Journal) top 200 ranking.

2007 - Late Summer/Early Fall - Double Disc Release - the first, a full band album produced by Brian McTear - (Bitter Bitter Weeks, Bigger Lovers, BC Camplight) and the second, an acoustic album, produced by Chris Unrath (Baby Flamehead, Wishniaks).

Photos

Bio

If Chrissy Hynde and Bob Mould jammed with “The Byrds”, or if Pete Townshend and Mitch Mitchell joined Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn in early “Everything But The Girl” they might sound something like The Trolleyvox. Gorgeous vocal and harmonies on top of layers of arpeggiated guitars, percussion and piano combine to deliver emotionally impactful songs with hooks that worm their way into your brain and don’t burn out.

On September 4th, 2007, the fourth release from The Trolleyvox hits stores - the double disc set on the Transit of Venus label is comprised of "Your Secret Safe" (TOVCD7007A) a full-band electric album produced by Brian McTear (Danielson, Espers, Mazarin, A-Sides, Lilly's, Apollo Sunshine) featuring nine new originals and a ripping version of The Who's "Our Love Was, Is" from"The Who Sell Out"; and "Luzerne" (TOVCD7007B) a gorgeous acoustic album of just songwriter-guitar player Andrew Chalfen and lead singer Beth Filla. The Two albums are being packaged together for the physical release and sold at the fan-friendly price of $14.99. The albums will be sold separately for digital download.

"It might be a downloading world, but a quaint minority of us music fans still treasure the excitement of acquiring a nicely packaged slab of new music and devoting an uninterrupted block of time to delving into its mysteries. The Trolleyvox strive to make albums which function as such. So in the spirit of "there's nothing quite like sinking your teeth into a premium quality double gatefold album", we Trolleyvox went whole hog with our new one, a double disc set with two new albums packaged together (one epic full-band, one way mellow acoustic), along with a 16 page color booklet. Anachronistic and commercially dubious? Sure! Hey, you can still download our music and that's cool, but for those who like to pour over the liner notes and graphics, we've got your back. And as added incentive, the double disc set of "Your Secret Safe/Luzerne" will cost only slightly more than our previous single cd releases, but ONLY if you purchase the physical artifact! We're sneaky like that.", said songwriter-guitarist Andrew Chalfen.

"Your Secret Safe", the electric album, comes a year after the release of the band's critically acclaimed third album "The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns". With this album, the band experiments and takes chances that break it out of the four-minute pop song model they have previously mastered so well by stripping out some of their now trademarked "wall-of-arpeggiated guitars" sound in favor of more open arrangements, improvisation, and longer song-forms. The result is a set of beautiful songs with a more relaxed and open-feel.

The album kicks-off with a blast of '70s-esque pop - "Call On You" and then quickly progressing to the ringing guitars and staccato fills that underlay Beth Filla's gorgeous vocals on Reading. The smokey "Fume Of Sighs" is followed by the rocking-romp of "Rabbit In The Sun" with its repeating marching-band bass drum thuds on the lead beat. "Anvil" is the first ever Trolleyvox song without any guitar, just piano and Andrew and Beth in beautiful vocal duet. The album concludes with the jammingly psychedelic eleven-and-a-half minute "Cricket In Euphoria".

"Luzerne", the acoustic album is made up 12 gorgeous acoustic-guitar based originals - 7 with vocals and 5 instrumentals. Imagine a lost Nick Drake record if he had let Nico take the lead vocal duties. "On The Way Down", "Stomping Grounds", and "Sundowning" show just what a truely gifted singer Beth Filla is and a great songwriter Andrew Chalfen is. The instrumentals such as "Cold Snap" and "Midvale" are testament to Chalfen's unique arpeggiated fnger-picking style.

Together these two albums, coming on the heels of 2006 critically-lauded "The Trolleyvox Present The Karaoke Meltdowns" show just how dynamic and creative this band is.

THE TROLLEYVOX PRESENT THE KARAOKE MELTDOWNS is the group’s 3rd full-lenth CD and features Beth Filla’s gorgeous vocals on top of Andrew Chalfen’s stand-out arpeggiated guitar work and memorable song-writing. More rocking than their critically acclaimed 2nd album Leap of Folly, KARAOKE MELTDOWNS is 13 hook-filled “soon-to-be-classics” of melancholy, freak-out and lusciousness.

Produced by longtime Trolleyvox producer/collaborator Adam Lasus (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Lilys, Helium, Yo La Tengo, Hartley Goldstein) and Brian McTear (Mazarin, Bitter Bitter Weeks, The Pernice Brothers) these rich and melodic sonic journeys take on topics that cover all sorts of modern-day meltdowns – emotional, spiritual, relationship, political, societal, personal, technological … ".

A viral video was shot and produced for the first single "Just You Wait' by noted film-maker and artist Marc Brodzik of Woodshop Films. It can be viewed on the video page of this Sonicbids EPK.

Since its release in late Fall of 2006 the album has received airplay on over 200 college a