» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Trolleyvox
The Trolleyvox Present the Karaoke Meltdowns
Transit of Venus

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

March 5, 2007
The Trolleyvox make music the way Todd Oldham designs: colorful, cheerful, no hard edges. Oldham actually could have had a hand in the CD cover art. Trolleyvox's sound is brewed up to be perfect for a comfortable style of easy-living, and nothing is wrong with the approach; it has worked wonders for bands like 10,000 Maniacs and Dave Matthews. Yet for those who crave their rock straight ahead but with the subtle complexity of a Luna, The Trolleyvox Present the Karaoke Meltdowns will fall a tad short.

The band is from Philadelphia, and they have a palpable East-Coast flavor to their sound, a Yo La Tengo Lite if you will. The Karaoke Meltdowns, their third album, is an easy listen without snaring itself into the dreaded easy-listening category. The most obvious comparison is with Canada's Stars, and at times the two bands sound strikingly similar. Lead vocalist Beth Filla, channeling Natalie Merchant, sings gracefully, occasionally trading vocals with guitarist Andrew Chalfen. The group is rounded out by the no-frills rhythm section of Owen Biddle and Ken Buono.

I am always a bit suspect of albums that start out with an "intro" track. If you are going to make a statement, fine; Clap Your Hands Say Yeah did just that on their debut, something along the lines of "you the listener are either going to hate us or love us after this nonsensical carnival barking," and it proved quite prophetic. The Karaoke Meltdowns, on the other hand, begins with a short instrumental "Preamble" that is nothing more (or less) than the beginning of the first track, so why bother? Moving through the album one is struck with the uniformity of the sound - there are no shockers in this forty minute spin.

The biggest surprises occur when a song will stand out for its sheer beauty. When the band write a gem, it's as good as any pop nugget out there. "I Know That You're High" is the first such song, with its loose piano and silver-tongued harmonies. The credits list the guitarist also playing the "tangerine" and "eggs"; I have no idea what these sound like, but they sure add to the prettiness. "Twilight Hotel" is a nice break from the rollicking progression, a ballad with some nice poetics: "Checking out the scenery/ From a twilight hotel/ The swift and agile/ Eye the clientele." The song that best sums up The Karaoke Meltdowns is also the standout, "Joyride," which is really what this album feels like: breezy fun, with the top down.

The Trolleyvox do make some critical lyrical statements, but even those are set to affirmative music. Bands like Headlights have done this to almost identical effect, and like the Champaign trio's recent Kill Them with Kindness, The Karaoke Meltdowns succeeds because the people behind it are talented enough to pull it off. The album closes with another beauty, "Pale Star Land Line, a soft piano and guitar accompanying Filla's subdued vocals, "You're beyond my line of sight." Fortunately The Trolleyvox is a band that knows just what their line of sight is, and staying comfortably within it is the key to this album.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro



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