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ALBUM REVIEW: Cars & Trains, “The Roots, The Leaves”

therootstheleaves small ALBUM REVIEW: Cars & Trains, The Roots, The Leaves
[wpaudio url="http://terrorbird.alphapupserver.com/online/carsandtrains-05_intimidated_by_silence.mp3" text="Cars & Trains: Intimidated By Silence" dl="0"]
One doesn’t expect to put electronic and folk in the same sentence when describing a band, but sometimes polar opposites meld together to create a perfect backdrop for the right vocals. Portland Oregon’s Tom Filepp, the solo musician behind cars & trains, has the type of celestial, yet determined voice that can easily entangle into the multi-levels of his looped samples and distorted sounds, and the result flirts with genius. Nowhere is this genius more evident than in cars & trains’ sophomore full-length effort, The Roots, The Leaves (his debut full-length was 2007’s Rusty String).

Stylistically, Filepp’s music is all over the place; each song an experiment in instruments (he even has a glockenspiel in there) and a this-and-that of layered sounds, some hushed and muffled, others strong and with intense purpose. However, it’s his words that really grab you and draw you in, firmly placing each syllable inside you. Filepp’s lyrics are of intimate stories, cruel happenstances and tragic endings. The song “Drop Ceilings and Day Planners,” details an impending death of a spirit: “From an eighteenth floor window watched your life pass by/Like a sad song passing birds would sing/From adjacent windowsills always searching for/Your perfect fitting metaphor.” While the lyrics haunt you long after the song has ended, the music, almost upbeat and cheery in comparison to the dark undertones, forces an obligatory foot tapping and head nodding.

Each song is perfectly placed on The Roots, The Leaves to play on all your emotions at once, taking you on a guided tour of Filepp’s mind and soul. The album’s final track “Dead Telephone” is entwined with horns and equally heartbreaking lyrics: “Ending up looking like a dead telephone/Despite all the things I’ve imagined myself as/This is the song where I swore I would say…/”I won’t be intimidated by silence”/Or any other sad sounding syllables.” The ache of Filepp’s lyrics is palatable, and real; and makes one remember why sometimes the sad songs are the best songs.  Buy the album HERE

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