Owen Biddle (Trolleyvox) Joins The Roots

The Trolleyvox’s new release on the Philadelphia-based Transit of Venus label is a two album set that is comprised of Your Secret Safe , 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”; and Luzerne, a gorgeous acoustic album featuring 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 retail and fan-friendly price of a single disc. The albums will be sold separately for digital download. The set is released 10/2/07. Soon after recording was finished, their bassist Owen Biddle accepted an invitation from fellow Philadelphians, hip hop giants The Roots, to become a full time member. Owen continues as a full member of Trolleyvox for studio work and touring when The Roots schedule permits.

Your Secret Safe is the new full band electric album produced by Brian McTear (Espers, Danielson, Capitol Years, Mazarin). It is the follow-up to their critically acclaimed The Trolleyvox Present the Karaoke Meltdowns finds the band experimenting in the studio with elements of folk and psych to create a brilliant and expansive pop masterwork. The album kicks-off with a blast of ’70s-esque pop, “Call On You”, and then quickly progresses 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 1st ever Trolleyvox song without any guitar, just piano and Andrew and Beth in beautiful vocal duet. he album concludes with the jammingly psychedelic eleven-and-a-half minute “Cricket In Euphoria”.

Luzerne is a warm and enveloping, and very chill, acoustic album for lovers of Nick Drake, Juana Molina, Jose Gonzalez, Elliott Smith, and Nico. Made up 12 gorgeous acoustic-guitar based originals – 7 with vocals and 5 instrumentals. “On The Way Down”, “Stomping Grounds”, and “Sundowning” show just what a truely gifted singer Beth Filla is; and what a great songwriter Andrew Chalfen is. The instrumentals such as “Cold Snap” and “Midvale” are testament to Chalfen’s unique arpeggiated guitar style which puts him in a league with John Fahey or Steffen Basho Junghans.

The Trolleyvox’s last full length set garnered the highest praise the group has experienced in their career to date:

Believe the hype! Commandeered by vocalist Beth Filla, The Trolleyvox are worthy of the bevy of critical praise bestowed upon them. Despite its overriding premise of pure and sometimes powerful pop, Karaoke does its fair share of hop scotching. From the would-be arena rocker “Just You Wait” that Robert Pollard should have dreamed up a decade ago, to the pastoral jangle and strum of “Joyride,” and twice around the bend to the offbeat, Mitch Easter-esque flair that infiltrates “I am Annabelle,” and “Onion Is Missing,” there’s an unmistakable classicist pop bent emanating from every pore of this LP. Cosmetically, Karaoke’s biggest stumbling block is its lack of continuity with pregnant pauses between tracks and uncoordinated segues that are challenging to tolerate, even though the music itself is a pleasure. Neal Agneta/Big Takeover #59 December 2006

Replete with catchy indie pop sing alongs, The Karaoke Meltdowns, the third full length release by Philadelphia band The Trolleyvox, has flown by under the radar of far too many listeners. Principal songwriter (and band guitarist) Andrew Chalfen balances artful
songwriting with accessible melodies as sweet as cotton candy. He also ensures that the arrangements have enough teeth to rock out when required.

It certainly helps that vocalist Beth Filla is on hand to sing the aforementioned delectable tunes. She displays impressive versatility and a flexible instrument. Filla’s voice soars over the rollicking groove on “Just you Wait,” adopts a folksy croon on “Stoplight roses,”
and betrays an endearing vulnerability on the “A Summer Without You.” The songs themselves cover a wide range of musical and emotional ground. “I Am Annabelle” deftly incorporates a fetching post-psychedelic ambience. Meanwhile, “I Know that You’re High” is imbued with all the virtues of a power pop single, with lush chorus
harmonies courtesy of layered vocal overdubs by Filla and an incisive arrangement filled with rhythmic verve. The Karaoke Meltdowns is a charming, often thrilling, recording. – Christian Carey (2007, The Daily Copper)

Power pop is rarely as deep or dexterously wrought as that heard on “The Karaoke Meltdowns,” the latest long-player by Philadelphia-based Trolleyvox.

Honed-to-perfection tunes are ear-grabbing in a jangly guitar/piano way, with the haunting vocals of Beth Filla adding flower-power allure. And just beneath the surface of Andrew Chalfen’s abstract lyrics lies a healthy dose of social criticism.

Chalfen is one of the city’s most enduring and worthy music crafters, first recognized in the late 1980s/early ’90s band the Wishniaks. – Jonathan Takiff/Philadelphia Daily News 12/8/06

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 OldCity 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. Michael Pelusi/ PhiladelphiaCity Paper 10/18

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. Their new album and third release overall, Karaoke Meltdowns, is a lush, melancholy and muscular display of the quartet’s considerable and diverse talents.

Dig It: A serious Pop mindmeld between 10,000 Maniacs and the (not so) Innocence Mission with Dr. Petetownshendstein presiding. Brian Baker/Cincinnati City Beat

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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