US - Oregon - Full Moon 165 - 02/28/10
Cars & Trains
The Roots, The Leaves
Portland, Oregon based (he originates from the Hudson Valley in New York) multi-instrumentalist Tom Filepp is Cars & Trains. Yet another one man band genius? Filepp/Cars & Trains made his debut in 2007 with Rusty String. The Roots, The Leaves is said to be a more personal journey. Roots. Leaves. Trees. Songs from the wood?
What first strikes me is a slight resemblance to Radical Face (a.k.a. Ben Cooper), another favourite one-man project. In fact, Electric President, Cooper's other project (with Alex Kane), have just released their new album on the Fake Four label. Another reference could be Why?, except Cars & Trains creates more mild-sounding, low-toned music. Other bands (still on the one-man track...) to link up to are Sparklehorse, The Eels, and the more minimalist world of the Microphones . But, all that said, Cars & Trains do make something personal. This is not a copy. And, yes Filepp manage an array of instruments, but there are of course some guest contributors around, including some fellow labelmates (like Alexander Chen of Boy In Static, and Ceschi Ramos).
The Roots, The Leaves is 10 tracks in some 40 minutes. Quite a perfect length, if you're asking me. There's a certain theme/atmosphere here. The Roots, The Leaves holds the tracks "The Roots" and "The Leaves", and lyrically/musically the songs on the album are from the moody, shady, melancholic side(s) of life. As the label states, Filepp covers: "...decaying buildings, rusty railroad tracks, and dusty urban settings, all tinged with hints of nature and melancholy". The sound is quite relaxing and most pleasant. Loops and delicate electronics, along with elegant string-plucking: banjos, woodwinds, acoustic guitars, strings, glockenspiel. There's an overall organic feel, as Radical Face (or even Electric President sometimes) sounds like. The Roots, The Leaves is a solid piece of work, and a very fine album indeed. Maybe not mind breaking, groundbreaking, but holding enough golden nuggets to be placed near the upper shelves. Check out opener "I Know Someone Who Can't Recognize", the fantastic "Asleep On A Train", or "The Sun Always Sets", or "Drop Ceilings And Day Planners". The Roots, The Leaves is a fine herbarium.
At the same time when The Roots, The Leaves was released, a (free download) remix album called The Roots, The Remix was available.
Copyright © 2010 Håvard Oppøyen