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Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011

Rock That Shines and Glows

Trolley returns with dynamic new album

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Trolley's new record, Things That Shine and Glow, is a powerful reminder of rock albums as they once were. Each track is distinctive on this cycle of memorable songs delivered with velvety insistence, but the sum of all parts has a character of its own. Shine and Glow is strangely timeless yet rooted in a special time—the cusp of 1966 and '67, when rock assumed a psychedelic glow and “pop” was not a dirty word.

Trolley's core lineup, bassist Terry Hackbarth and guitarists Paul Wall and Mike Perotto, has been around since 1995, but the band had been absent from live music of late, until the release of Shine and Glow. The hibernation resulted from a complex of reasons, including the loss of a drummer, Perotto's sabbatical to concentrate on marriage and fatherhood, and Hackbarth and Wall's other band, the punkier Nice Outfit. Likewise, several factors combined to put Trolley back on track. Hackbarth and Wall grew tired of the Nice Outfit, Perotto was ready to resume playing and a new drummer, Patrick Morrow, walked through the door.

“He actually owned the Trolley CDs,” Wall said, referring to the band's handful of long-players. “We started running into Patrick right around the time Mike was coming around again. And Mike is the architect of the band in terms of arrangements.”

The invisible architecture of sound is clearly audible in the strong symmetries of Things That Shine and Glow, especially the shifting dynamics, emotional power and bittersweet vocal harmonies by Hackbarth, Wall and Perotto. Great songs by all the core members, however, are the building blocks, lending themselves to the melancholy jangle reminiscent of The Byrds or guitar duels suggesting an encounter between The Kinks' Dave Davies and The Yardbirds' Jeff Beck.  “That Made Me Wanting You” is like a great lost track from the Beatles' Revolver album. The urgency of the performances occasionally relaxes. “Vanity's Song” recalls The Beach Boys from Pet Sounds ruing the end of summer.

Another set of hands lifted Shine and Glow over the top: Decibully's Ryan Weber co-produced and Nick Sanborn co-engineered. “They really know what they're doing and they were part of the recording process,” Hackbarth says. “We'd say, 'We want a 1966 Vox organ,' and they'd say, 'How about the one The Monkees used?' They understood what we were looking for.”

The great recordings of '60s rock inspired the members of Trolley from the beginning, but when the band formed they were also influenced by the music of their time. “There was a little bit of alternative rock in our sound,” Wall admits. “Now, I feel a complete disconnect with anything modern.”

Trolley headlines a Dec. 3 show at Linneman's Riverwest Inn. Also on the bill are Testa Rosa and the Sugar Stems.
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