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 members of Trolleyvox have been mainstays of the Philly Indie Rock scene for the last 20 years having played with everyone from the guys in Marah to The Roots and the producer of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Early press reaction has been powerfully favorable as the samples given below attest. I do hope you’ll consider covering them with a feature or CD review.
Luzerne is a warm and enveloping, and very chill, acoustic album for lovers of Bert Jansch, Juana Molina, Jose Gonzalez, and Sandy Denny. 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.
Your Secret Safeis the new full band electric album produced by Brian McTear (Espers, Danielson, Capitol Years, Mazarin). It 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.
Trollyvoxx: Philly-based band celebrates all that used to be vocally harmonic, richly melodic and instrumentally finessed in British and West Coast U.S. rock ‘n’ roll, bless their anachronistic little hearts. Jon Takiff/Philadelphia Daily News 11/2
On this two-discs-for-the-price-of-one set, Transit of Venus give us Trolleyvox’s 4th and 5th full-lengths. The Trolleyvox are essentially the vehicle for guitarist Andrew Chalfen and vocalist Beth Filla, and the group have been quietly garnering praise for their previous guitar pop work, starting with 2000’s Ephemera for the Future. Chalfen creates a satisfying blend of muscled power-pop and jangly indie-pop with a sense for catchy melodies and irresistible hooks that few peers possess. This is in fine evidence on Your Secret Safe, which for sure enjoyability one ups last year’s The Karaoke Meltdowns. Whether jangling Roger McGuinn style on the engaging sixties throwback “Jean Jacket,” crunching out muscle-guitar workouts for “Rabbit in the Sun,” tossing off dreamy pure-pop confections such as opener “I Call on You,” or going all balladeer on the laid-back, intriguingly named “Fume of Sighs,” two things are clear: Chalfen has the chops of his convictions – and writes great tunes – and Filla has a noteworthy versatile voice that molds to this material like latex. A cover of Pete Townsend’s “Our Love Was” only sweetens the espresso. Luzerne finds Filla and Chalfen in a different space entirely, sans band and sans plug. The disc holds 12 tracks of contemporary folk, featuring just Filla’s voice and Chalfen’s acoustic guitar (he’s also credited with paper and egg). Of special note are the mesmerizing instrumental “Red Plum,” the lilting “Whistles in Church,” and the bittersweet “Pratfallers,” which benefits from a languidly floating Filla vocal, and the cello polishing of matt pond PA’s Eve Miller. Luzerne shows that pop is not the only language in which Chalfen is fluent. (Michael Meade)/Skyscraper Fall 07
The Trolleyvox’s new release 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. Popmatters.com 10/10
Although I really liked last year’s The Karaoke Meltdowns, The Trolleyvox have really outdone themselves with this new set. It’s a two-disc set with Your Secret Safe being the loud, electric album and Luzerne being the quiet, folky, acoustic one. I prefer Your Secret Safe, which includes an excellent cover of THE WHO’s “Our Love Was”, but both sets are stellar. Matt Berlyant/BigTakeover.com
It’s not their fault, but the Trolleyvox has never been what you’d call prolific. Between 1997, when the band began recording their debut, and 2006, when they released The TrolleyvoxPresent the Karaoke Meltdowns, they made just three albums, which weren’t always easy to find. Something always got in the way: singer Beth Filla’s stint in grad school, lineup changes, label troubles, life. So it seemed ambitious, to say the least, when guitarist Andrew Chalfen announced late last year that a double EP was in the works. Seems he wasn’t giving himself enough credit. The Trolleyvox has two new full-lengths, packaged together as a double CD on Transit of Venus or available separately online. Your Secret Safe kicks the group’s rock tendencies up a notch; the acoustic, partly instrumental Luzerne tones them down, with Rachel’s cellist Eve Miller filling in for the rhythm section when The Roots drafted bassist Owen Biddle. Chalfen gamely chatted about the project over e-mail.
City Paper: When did you have time to write all the songs?
Andrew Chalfen: I have a huge backlog of music and I always seem to be coming up with more all the time. Lyrics are the roadblock that’s keeping me from turning into Bob Pollard. I procrastinate with lyric writing and I’m rather particular, which keeps the finished song-count down. … Several of the songs are quite old, pre-dating the Trolleyvox. Your Secret Safe has “Anvil” and “Fume of Sighs,” and Luzerne has “Intermission,” “Pratfallers” and “Stomping Grounds,” all tunes we’ve had in our live acoustic sets for years.
CP: What experiences between The Karaoke Meltdowns and now have shaped the new songs?
AC: Well, I tend to dwell, and lately I dwell on our country and the planet going to hell in a handbasket at the hands of humans with their wars and greed and short-sighted self-interest, and I try to channel the resulting psychic toll. … “Can You Find a Way Down” and “Sundowning” off the new ones deal with that stuff. My dad, who passed away last month, had not been well for a while and his physical decline was heavy on my mind. So I’ve been thinking about the theme of things slipping away personally as well as globally. Lots of my friends are having kids, and some are kind of baby crazy, so “Rabbit in the Sun” is sort of a flip look at the phenomenon of people caught up in that vortex of hormones, desire and irrationality.
CP: Did you have any transcendent moments in making them?
AC: Most aspects of recording are like chocolate to me. I can’t get enough of the whole process. Just hearing the songs come together through an endless series of tiny epiphanies, breakthroughs and lots of hard work. Brian [McTear, who co-produced Your Secret Safe], especially, is a super-driven and super-detailed engineer. It’s amazing to watch him do his thing and to bounce ideas off one another constantly.
CP: How have you developed your guitar style?
AC: Basically trying to copy parts of artists I love and usually failing to get it right, but in the process, coming up with something different. I didn’t even play guitar prior to college, just piano. I started off trying to play Tommy Keene and Who riffs and R.E.M. songs off ChronicTown and Murmur in the dorm stairwell. I dislike making barre chords, so I kind of invented my own chords to get around the guitar neck. That’s probably how I got into playing lots of arpeggios and using my thumb. Sometime in the ’90s I went down the rabbit hole of alternate tunings.
CP: What’s it like to share a band member with the Roots?
AC: The whole thing is surreal. On the one hand, we’re thrilled for him. It’s like being asked in the ’60s to join James Brown’s band or something – the chance of a lifetime. … We don’t know if our gigs are going to be full-band or acoustic, because The Roots frequently get these last-minute festival gigs. We’ve been through our share of rhythm section lineup changes, and it’s a difficult thing to have the band chemistry changing all the time, and Owen brings so much in terms of personality, musicianship and friendship. We have a good friend filling in for him at the moment for some upcoming shows, but beyond that, we’ll see. MJ Fine/Philadelphia City Paper 10/16
Two-CD sets by indie pop bands weren’t common fare in 2007, but that’s what Trollyvox offer on Your Secret Safe/Luzerne. While neither of the two discs are ballyhooed more than the other in the packaging, it’s likely that the one titled Your Secret Safe is the one into which they poured their primary energy, as the disc titled Luzerne is wholly acoustic and partially instrumental. Your Secret Safe, in contrast, boasts full-band arrangements, offering guitar pop featuring Beth Filla’s coolly haunting lead vocals . the band’s combination of moody and meditative words and melody with fairly aggressive, guitar-driven backing is reasonably engaging. A few of the tracks, like “I Call on You” and “Reading,” are a bit like hearing the Who with a more contemporary indie pop bent and a female vocalist, and in fact, the Who’s “Our Love Was” is the only cover of the set. Other songs admit other influences into their approach, like ringing 12-string power pop on “Jean Jacket,” though even that song has instrumental breaks with highly Pete Townshend-esque power chords. The other disc on this release, Luzerne, is not Your Secret Safe unplugged. It has entirely different songs, though the only instrumentation is provided by Trollyvox songwriter Andrew Chalfen (mostly on acoustic guitar) and Eve Miller (on occasional cello), and five of the twelve tracks are instrumental. In keeping with the format, these are gentler and folkier tunes, more Nick Drake than Pete Townshend . Richie Unterberger/Allmusic.com
Trolleyvox: Hardest-working power-pop band in Philadelphia celebrates the release of 2-disc set, “Your Secret Safe/Luzerne. Jon Takiff/Philadelphia Daily News10/19
The Trolleyvox meld layering with ringing harmonies as vivid as the splashes of color parading across their album art. The sound is a complex one, bending the lush acoustic harmonies of The Byrds into the meandering, cryptic poetry of R.E.M. However, the Philadelphia-based band does not settle for routine and has managed to surprise listeners over the years with a fleet-footed style that never stays in one place for very long. On the breakthrough 2006 release, The Karaoke Meltdowns, the band meshed acoustic blueprints with ample dashes of electric sound to create a tight mix of nuanced pop songs. When asked whether the band felt more at home unplugged or with overdrive, guitarist and primary songwriter Andrew Chalfen mentioned the importance of both to the band’s approach to songcraft. “We love to rock out, and we love to get all quiet and sensitive,” says Chalfen. “Live, it’s good to have a variety that we can bust out depending on the gig situation.” In terms of influences, they’re hard to pin down. The band lists nearly two hundred bands as influencing factors on its MySpace page, so I asked Chalfen for a snapshot of what was playing on his stereo during the pivotal teen years. He cites early U2, R.E.M.’s ChronicTown, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Replacements, and Husker Du. As one listens to the crystalline songcraft of The Trolleyvox, the voices of many of these landmark artists certainly seep through the sounds.
Following up The Karaoke Meltdowns, which Chalfen describes as feeling like “a singles collection,” The Trolleyvox has opened its horizons more fully with the recent release of a double album titled Your Secret Safe / Luzerne (Transit of Venus, 09/04/07). “Up until this record, our album model has been like Beatles’ records,” says Chalfen. “Mix it up, not have the albums be sonically one-dimensional in terms of feel, dynamics, and style.” Your Secret Safe / Luzerne is the band’s most ambitious project to date, with the first disc reflecting a varied mix of textures and the second showing the band at its most stripped-down and acoustic. “We consciously selected different kinds of songs than usual,” explains Chalfen. “Sonically, they’re not the jam-packed, dense thickets of pop and riff and economy that, say, were a big part of The Karaoke Meltdowns. It feels like a true cohesive album listening experience.” Chalfen says he was going for a spacious cohesion to this recording, and cites the observation that mood is a driving factor behind listening in the moment. His aim was to create what he describes as a singular mood. “Our two new records, especially Luzerne, are an attempt to create a listening experience like that instead of our usual variety show,” he explains. “It wasn’t as conscious as with Your Secret Safe, but that record wound up having a really cool, spacious, almost regal feel to the whole thing.”
The Trolleyvox entered the studio to record the new albums with a production team consisting of Brian McTear, Amy Morrissey, and Adam Lasus. Chalfen described the marriage of digital and analog editing styles with McTear and Lasus working on the production. “Brian’s got tremendous patience and enthusiasm for digital editing,” he explains. “Adam Lasus is an amazing mixer, but he’s an analog reel-to-reel guy and won’t get into cutting and pasting individual tambourine hits individually on every beat. He needs to feel actual knobs and faders beneath his fingers and operate more intuitively.” The team was able to produce an array of numbers, from the hopscotch time signatures of “Reading,” to the swirling towers of sound in the 11-minute closer, “Cricket in Euphoria.” Chalfen cites McTear’s digital influence on the album as a positive driving force towards creating particular sounds. “I always hear these really cool effects on records,” says Chalfen, “yet despite all the times I’ve been in recording studios, I’m still a sonic neophyte when it comes to really getting a guitar to sound like Martian landscapes.”
Although the band weaves in and out of acoustic and electric sounds, Chalfen primarily starts the songwriting process with the acoustic guitar. “Every six months or so, I fill up a 90-minute tape with what I call ‘raw ether,'” he explains. Having such a foundation of raw riffs forces the band to be selective and flesh out some elements while keeping others in the goal of creating workable songs. Although the band’s songwriting approach has seen structure coming from improvisation, the band’s singer, Beth Filla, prefers going into things with structure already set. “Jamming, I think, makes her nervous,” says Chalfen. “She’s come up with some great vocal melody lines to riffs I’ve auditioned for her, but she claims that’s not the way her brain operates.”
After the success and positive critical reception of The Karaoke Meltdowns, The Trolleyvox has accelerated to the forefront of the Philadelphia indie scene that has blossomed over the past decade. According to Chalfen, the Philly music scene has been a healthy environment for indie rock bands to take root and grow. “It’s been really great for nearly a decade, come to think of it,” he says, “lots of places to play, many great bands, college radio support nearby, cheap housing if you know where to look for it. Bands seem to be moving here all the time.” When asked how MySpace has affected the band’s ability to expand and reach audiences, Chalfen cites its quality as a double-edged sword. “It helps especially with gig trading,” he explains, “but it really calls attention to the fact that everyone and their grandmother are in sixteen gazillion bands, all eternally trying desperately to network.” He believes that the acceleration and explosion of promotion opportunities has led many to tune out much of the plethora of bands, but he does acknowledge it as a quick gateway to a band’s music. “One useful thing is that one can see who is playing in town on a given night, then go to their MySpace page and check out what they sound like. I’ve been dreaming of such a service for years.”
Despite the band’s increased presence in the indie world, the journey has not always been pristine. “It’s always been like herding cats trying to keep the band lurching along,” says Chalfen. “Lives are busy and complicated and people’s time has always been at a premium.” Chalfen also noted that the band had self-financed its recording activities up until The Karaoke Meltdowns. The album that launched the band into greater circles of recognition was nearly stalled midway through due to a lack of funds. “That might have been it for us if Transit of Venus hadn’t come along and rescued our ass,” says Chalfen. “I was all resigned for a lifetime of anonymous bedroom recordings at that point.” From the inception of the project many years ago through the release of The Karaoke Meltdowns and Your Secret Safe / Luzerne, devotion to the music has kept The Trolleyvox in the game despite the hurdles.
The Trolleyvox has also had a shaky few months since the release of the double album. Chalfen acknowledges that the rhythm section personnel have seen many lineup changes over the years – a trend that continued when the band’s bassist, Owen Biddle, said goodbye to the band in order to join The Roots on the road. In addition to musical chairs in the lineup, Chalfen’s father recently passed away in September. Although The Trolleyvox has seen its share of rough roads, the new album is getting a warm reception and the future is optimistic. “We’d love to do some more touring in ’08,” says Chalfen. “We’ll see what happens.” At the core, it’s the music that has been the glue that has held The Trolleyvox in creative flourish. “The lure of having the music in one’s head become fully realized is the prime mover in all of this.”
The Trolleyvox is currently slated to play a number of dates on a west-coast acoustic tour with Beth, Andrew, and the bare-boned instrumental essentials. “Maybe one day we’ll be big enough where it’d make economic sense to bring the whole band out there and guzzle obscene amounts of gas in a van,” Chalfen remarks. After that, the band will play several more dates on the tail-end of the tour. From there, the future is an open one. For a band that continues to surprise audiences and dazzle the ears, it’s an open road of possibility, expression, and music.-Matt Wendus/Amplifiermagazine.com 10/16
When I last spoke with Andrew Chalfen, lead guitarist and co-vocalist for the local power-pop quartet Trolleyvox, he was taking it easy. Chalfen, along with vocalist Beth Filla, bassist Owen Biddle and drummer Ken Buono, had just put out The Trolleyvox Present Karaoke Meltdown, the group’s third album in seven years. It was a scorching, bright collection of songs full of tenacious pop hooks, clever word play and bilious political undertones. It was a work that had the feel of a few superb musicians having fun while making a great album. That was in December, and Chalfen was working at his day job in the suburbs and awaiting a spring tour of seven cities, mainly in the Southeast. Making music, he said then, was something he did when he got home from work to keep from being unhappy – a kind of natural therapy for him. Eight months later, I was holding in my hands a new double album from Trolleyvox – yes, the same mellow group that had taken seven years to put out three albums. This time when I called Chalfen, he was near-manic with energy and enthusiasm. Besides dealing with the swirl of excitement around the new release, Chalfen was coping with the loss of his father, his recent marriage, and the fact that Philly-based mega-group Roots had just asked bassist Biddle to join them on their tour. “It’s been so crazy the last few months, it’s almost hard to believe,” said Chalfen, surprisingly upbeat for all he has on his plate. Yet, after talking to him for nearly half an hour, I still was not entirely certain how he and his cohorts managed to pull off the double album. My disbelief is rooted not only in the sheer volume of the work but also in its mind-bending quality. Spanning 22 tracks, the album is split into the 10-song electric pop-rocker Your Secret Safe, and Luzerne, a delicate mix of acoustic ballads and instrumentals. In a clever marketing ploy, fans who buy the actual hard copy (it went on sale this week) will get both for the price of one, while downloaders will have to pay full price for both. Chalfen said the release, a slick and shiny cardboard case that opens like a centerfold and features a local trolley motif, is a salute to all those who savor holding an album in their hands. “You have all these people walking around with thirty-thousand songs on their iPods, and that’s OK, but to me it’s just not the same experience as holding something and just putting on a single album to listen to all the way through,” said Chalfen. And when you get a copy of these two discs, that’s exactly what you should do. Pop one in your CD player and just sit back. Or go for a drive. But listen to each disc in total. You’ll probably have to give it a few spins to really let all the levels sink in, with more layers of thought and shades of emotion being revealed with each play. On both Your Secret Safe and Luzerne, Filla’s voice superbly picks out the idiosyncrasies and twists of thought in Chalfen’s songwriting. The electric Your Secret Safe shows a side of Filla where her vocals take on a sugary sweetness, but are loaded with darker meaning that belies their delivery. Luzerne, though, is more earnest, with a somber and direct tone well paired with the soft string-plucking of Chalfen’s guitar. As a whole, the release stands apart from Trolleyvox’s earlier works. “This time around, the songs are much more loose,” explained Chalfen. That quality, he says, can be attributed to the story of their creation. The two discs started as an EP that the band was recording at Brian McTear’s studio in Fishtown, a result of their work with him on their last album. “We stayed and did an extra six songs, and we were thinking that we would do an EP, but then we couldn’t really figure out how to market a double EP or a full record released along with an EP,” explained Chalfen. So they got the idea to just keep writing and recording songs until they had enough for two albums. But the move had some potentially disastrous consequences. The double release could have ended up as an overextended mess, with the weaker throw-on tracks dragging the originals down. Or the musicians could have ended up burned out and stuck with two half-finished albums. But, perhaps miraculously, those scenarios didn’t play out. Both albums are stellar collections of everything that has made Trolleyvox such a fantastic band to this point. As a testament to that excellence, local radio stations have been spinning the CD, and the band is set to do a national tour that will at times see Chalfen and Filla split off to do their own acoustic set. That leaves Chalfen trying to work things out with his boss and his new bride over the next couple of months. Speaking for Philly music fans, here’s a bit of advice for Chalfen and Filla: Quit your day jobs. And put out more albums like these. .. Check it out . . . Who: The Trolleyvox What: One of Philly’s most promising popsters celebrating the release of a stellar double album. When: Free CD-release party this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Mars Red Music, Haddonfield, N.J., and on Oct. 19 at 9 p.m. at the Khyber, Second and Chestnut streets. Brian Rademaekers/Star Home News 10/4
Their new single, “Stomping Grounds” features the beautiful voice of Beth Filla. This Philadelphia-based band plans an acoustic West Coast tour later this year. SFist.com 10/3
Four albums in, The Trollevox unveils its most stunning opus to date, a two disc set encompassing a pair of sides so distinctly different they’re even branded separately. The first, Your Secret Safe will likely be the one that grabs most of the attention because it’s here that the band’s prime movers — guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Andrew Chalfen and vocalist Beth Filla — give full vent to their retro pop ambitions. A bracing cover of The Who’s “Our Love Was” gives only partial indication of their intent; their Byrds/Bangles confluence on “Call On You” and “Jean Jacket” provide the more accurate barometer of how far their songwriting has progressed and the confidence that graces their execution. The trajectory begins to drift off at points towards the end (the protracted closing cut, “Cricket In Euphoria” seems to meander on far too long), but regardless, Your Secret Safe is an immensely cheery and engaging set of songs, and one that ought to place them on the Rock radar posthaste.
Luzerne takes its cue from Crosby Stills and Nash’s mellower sojourns, particularly as applied to the Crosby quotient. In fact, opening track “Whistles In Church” bears such strikingly similarities, it encourages a second look at the writing credits to dash any suspicion it’s actually a Cros composition (with “Triad” being the template). Set against acoustic guitars, an ethereal ambiance and the occasional instrumental, Filla’s vocals lend a soothing disposition, a distinct contrast from the effusive persona that occupies the other disc. Still, despite its tempered delivery, it provides ample treasures of its own, especially “On The Way Down,” a song so stunning and sublime it burrows its way into the consciousness from the very first listen. Like the Kennedys, the Weakerthans, the Everybodyfields and the Swivel Chairs — other outfits with a similar lilt and caress — The Trolleyvox provides folk-rock comfort for these troubled times. Lee Zimmerman /AmplifierMagazine.com 10/2
We really admire the folks in Trolleyvox…not only for their music but also because of the way they are marketing themselves. While the band’s tunes are certainly available for download, as an incentive for folks to buy the real thing…they created a beautifully packaged double CD package (complete with colorful lyric booklet) that sells for the price of a single disc. The packaging is lovely indeed…but the songs are the real draw here. Your Secret Safe features the full-band line-up and is our favorite of the two CDs. Trolleyvox songs are smart and memorable…often recalling some of the better bands we have heard on the Merge label. Lead vocalist Beth Filla seems to have several different voices. One minute she sounds something like Linda Hopper (Oh OK, Magnapop)… and a few songs later she sounds more like Kate Bush. Luzerne, the second CD, features the softer side of the band played with mostly acoustic instruments. A word of warning…the tunes on these CDs may take a few spins to sink in…so if you’re looking for a quick, immediate fix…you may need something with a little less substance. Luzerne is a neat, moody collection of tracks…but the more upbeat, super hummable tunes on Your Secret Safe blow us away the most. Superb pop cuts include “I Call On You,” “Reading,” “Jean Jacket” (we really dig this one), and “Cricket in Euphoria.” (Rating: 5+) Don Seven/Babysue.com October
As the world of indie pop continues to elevate around the heads of the Philadelphia-based power pop set The Trolleyvox, one can only hope their number comes up one of these days. Consistent providers of solid music since the turn of the millennium, the ‘vox are a band you can’t help but become a fan of after listening to one of their incredibly fun albums. A special treat is in store for all those who hear Your Secret Safe and Luzerne, released as a double-CD set early this month, as the band offers up a whopping 22 songs, most of which you just can’t resist.
Your Secret Safe kicks off with the 70’s rocker Call on You, which may be the most addictive song of all the new material. Guitarist Andrew Chalfen broadens his licks with some nostalgic ’70s solos; it’s a perfect setup for the first four songs of the album, which are just as strong as anything on the 2003 critical hit .Present the Karaoke Meltdowns.
Perhaps the best way to consider the quality of the Trolleyvox’s material, though, is to point out where they slip up. The effort is more reserved and subtle overall than Meltdowns. As such, the upbeat numbers in the electric Your Secret Safe can set the disc askew. While “Rabbit in the Sun” gives off a happy-go-lucky beat behind its irrational lyrical backbone, “Jean Jacket” and “Cricket in Euphoria” are overly long for their content. It’s forgivable, largely because lead singer Beth Filia’s voice is downright irresistible in “Jean Jacket” and the Chalfen’s guitar provides a great vibe throughout “Cricket,” but the numbers could still have been cut.
The real strength of the set lies in Luzerne, which almost exclusively features Filia’s voice and Chalfen’s guitar. The pair compliment each other perfectly, Chalfen’s songwriting leading Filia’s smoky vocal. As a stark, acoustic-based album, it should please anyone who is a fan of Elliot Smith or Nick Drake. The disc is a marked departure from the jangle pop foundation that the Trolleyvox had built upon in past albums, but it’s a refreshing change of pace and an ingenious way to showcase the duo’s range of talent. Jeff Martin/Blogcritics.com 10/24