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coverpic flag US - Oregon - Full Moon 199 - 11/28/12

Cars & Trains
We Are All Fire
Fake Four

We Are All Fire was put out a couple of months ago, and it's the third full-length album by Portland, OR based multi-instrumentalist Tom Filepp, who's working under the moniker Cars & Trains. I haven't checked his debut EP 2AM (2006), or his first album, Rusty String (2007 - released as Rusty String Deluxe in 2008, with additional remixes and extra tracks), but his platter The Roots, The Leaves was a favourite of mine some two years ago.

Cars & Trains play "...electronic-folk toy-instrument live-looping craziness a la The Microphones, Tunng, Psapp, múm." Filepp also runs the label (and magazine) Circle Into Square (a partnering label with Fake Four), who's put out releases by Boy In Static, Big Pauper, Kay the Aquanaut, The Harvey Girls, The Consulate General, to name a few. Anyway, this is about Cars & Trains' latest, and we're introduced to eleven tracks (including an 'intro' and an 'outro') by Filepp. We Are All Fire holds contribution from fellow Portland musicians (like the Future Historians, Alameda, and the Ascetic Junkies), as well as from some of Filepp's label mates (Astronautalis, Rickolus, and Ceschi Ramos). Of course there's a theme, a concept here - with a red thread throughout the album: 'the concept of a family', sometimes meaning/bringing joy, but also pain. This was in Filepp's spirit: '...the idea was to create a narrative about family... a search for identity, and a personal narrative expressed through electroacoustic pop." When I reviewed The Roots, The Leaves, I compared his works to Radical Face, a.k.a. Ben Cooper. They both explore the same themes: family matters, family bonds, identity. But where Ben Cooper seeks to fin his analogue family bonds, Filepp seeks to find out what family means in our digital age.

On We Are All Fire you'll find piano, guitars, drums, strings and horns, along with discreet samples, careful electronic noise. Quite neatly done. The music (the downtempo mix of folk and electronic also tagged 'folktronic') from Filepp's hand (well, heart, mind, soul, etc....), is fascinating and sympathetic, but I'm afraid the songs on this album (or the record as a whole) don't catch me this time. As his songs did last time around.

Copyright © 2012 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Cars & Trains articles/reviews: Drifts, Dust, Secret Worlds, The Roots, The Leaves.

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