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Trophy Wife played its first show in 1996 at Churchill's Hideaway in Miami. The band has been touring the Broward and Miami-Dade rock circuits ever since. This past July it made good on an opportunity to perform at the high-profile Zeta Fest in Hollywood. Feldner's song "I Believe," from Trophy Wife's self-released, self-titled debut CD, was included on Musician magazine's "Best Unsigned Bands of 1998" compilation. But it's another song, "Love & Hate," also from the debut CD, that may sound familiar. It's currently being used as background music for a series of new Burdines commercials. Not bad for someone who, only four years ago, had difficulty plugging in a guitar.
An unapologetic Trekkie, Karen has decided to call Trophy Wife's new CD Altered Borg Machine. The title was inspired by a race of half-human, half-machine beings who are recurring characters on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Though Feldner describes the creatures at great length and in minute detail, it is probably enough to say that altered borgs are not happy, friendly beings. In fact, considering their desire to conquer the universe, they generally cause a lot of problems wherever they roam.
"Everything in life to me relates to Star Trek somehow," Feldner says. Let's get this straight: Everything in life relates to a TV program the premise of which involves explorers from Earth zipping through space and nearly losing their lives at the hands of every alien they encounter? "Well, that's how it is every day," Karen contends. "You have to deal with all the unexpected occurrences."
A tape of nine songs under consideration for Trophy Wife's sophomore CD does reveal a certain cosmic theme. Beginning with "In My Dream," Feldner sings over an appropriately drowsy guitar and backbeat, "I'm feeling like a flower, alive and green/My statue starts to crumble/I want to scream." And she does.
In the title track, "Altered Borg Machine," crunchy guitars growl beneath Karen's benevolent voice. Like much of Trophy Wife's repertoire, the song is a mixture of mean and sweet. "Again" rocks aggressively enough to make one wonder how a person so pleasant and intelligent could sound so angry. "Chemical Dependence," featuring appropriate subject matter, is one of those rare songs that manages to sound both languid and catchy. It ends eerily with Feldner emitting a long, trembling gasp. The unquestionable hit of the bunch -- despite its Trekkian lyrics -- is "Lucky Star." ("Your hands have unleashed a form incomplete/I wait instruction.") With its melodic verses, groovy chorus, and guitar reverberating as if underwater, "Lucky Star" is trippy music. It sticks.
It also happens to be the song Trophy Wife was performing as Feldner accidentally synchronized with the wobbly blond woman from the movie. When told of the coincidence, Feldner is ecstatic. She swears she's never seen Night of the Living Dead. The operators of the Wallflower Gallery had simply given her a choice of movies, and she chose the zombie classic because of its possibly morbid, sci-fi appeal. It just worked.
"Performing can really be a pleasurable experience that way," she says. "Even at rehearsal, it's a whole experience."
Talk turns to the future. Where would Feldner like to see Trophy Wife in, say, two to three years?
"Still playing and making $25 a show instead of $15."
She laughs, a just-joshing titter. "No, I have goals. Definitely. But they're so obvious, why even say what they are?"