The Roots, The Leaves

by cars & trains

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about

The Roots, The Leaves is the sophomore effort of Portland, Oregon based multi-instrumentalist cars & trains (Tom Filepp), a more personal and emotive foray than his 2007 full length debut Rusty String. Tom deftly mixes out-of-the-box electronics and found sounds seamlessly with a myriad of instruments–woodwinds, banjos, acoustic guitars, strings and glockenspiel–walking a blurry line that makes one wonder where exactly the uncommonly organic drum programming ends and the instruments and lushly layered found sounds begin.

On his first Fake Four Inc. release, Tom does what he shines at, as in previous efforts–vividly creating microscopic ship-in-a-bottle worlds with circular themes that one can imagine crawling into, like a favorite childhood hiding place, while brooding nostalgically on a favorite time or place long since past. His distinctive and thickly layered vocals sit atop soft but steadily pulsing guitars, malfunctioning toys, twangy banjos, crooning woodwinds and dirge-like trumpets, weaving a nimbly produced record that tells a succinct and engaging story.

Lyrically “The Roots” is much more vested in storytelling, painting vivid pictures of moss-laden decaying buildings, rusty railroad tracks, and dusty urban settings, all tinged with hints of nature and melancoly. Drawing on inspiration both from his adopted hometown of Portland and from his native Hudson Valley in New York, Tom builds on reoccuring themes that make the listener feel like they are part of something special and intimate. The ten tracks are more staked in a carefully hewn songwriting sensibility, while focusing to a greater extent on Tom’s singing and lush vocal harmonies than before.

Many guest artists contribute vocals and a diverse array of instruments to The Roots, The Leaves, including a handful of fellow labelmates on Fake Four Inc. (like Ceschi Ramos, Alexander Chen of Boy In Static), in addition to some Portland, Oregon locals. Carrying on the mantle of previous releases laden with toy instruments, distorted tape samples and banjos, “The Roots” sits at a curious intersection between more folk-oriented electronic groups like Tunng and the distinctive Pacific Northwest experimental folk sound of K Records/The Microphones/Mt. Eerie renown.

The Roots, The Leaves is cars & trains’ most realized and expressive effort to date, full of energy and intimacy gleaned from Filepp’s intense, energetic, and intricate live looping show that he has steadily developed and gained notoriety for. From the intricate plucking of The Root’s cyclical opening and closing songs, and everything in between, cars & trains carefully journeys hand in hand with his influences, cajoling them into a world all his own.

Also available on January 26th is "The Roots, The Remix", a free remix album of The Roots, The Leaves, available on this site for download.

credits

released 26 January 2010

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cars & trains Portland, Oregon

electronic-folk toy-instrument live-looping craziness a la the microphones, tunng, psapp, múm. proprietor of
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Track Name: I Know Someone Who Can't Recognize
i know someone who can't recognize
his own face in a crowd, he's a ball rolling down
since he started, out this morning
no one knows, which direction he falls

and an eerie sound, resonated
when he hit the ground, made that awful sound

dreaded opening my eyes, afraid we wouldn't be here
not understanding the words from my mouth

i feel like it should come with warning, too
we may burn up, on re-entry

and we recede, just like everything
now, and then, what comes after that

and civilizations will fall
and everything we know, will crumble to the ground
make that awful sound, seem familiar

i feel like it should come with warning, too
Track Name: Asleep On A Train
in twos and threes the stinging rain falls on this car
counting time with the lights blinking like a dying star
i'll turn it out soon so i focus on where i go
pretending to be asleep on a train is hard to forego
while tree branches wave and telephone poles compare notes
what passes by the window disappears at our next thought

the abandoned buildings they don't realize they are all alone
reaching out to keep the pieces of what they've all become
with the heat of the sun forcing moss and ivy to grow
across the faces, rushing backwards, giving all they owe
to circumnavigate their frames and join hands with cracks on walls
and make us honest about from where we came and head towards

the sun it flickers and fades setting to the left of my arm
the lovely half lit silhouetted hills now hard to discern
as if they've all given up like old cars in junkyards
and all the air that the train displaced won't come to harm
simply acting as a means to spread some forgotten seeds
that long ago would find their way home by some other means
----
and the air that i displace won't even remember my name
or any other details of the lines of my face
----
passing by a line of crows on power lines that wait for
a something that we all don't attempt to express anymore
feeling the pull to find a way to what we would call home
giving thought to, things i felt as i wait on the platform
evading the subjects that are constantly on my mind
while circling above them like clouds at the same time

the wheels sometimes falter and scrape on the tracks as i drift
to all the things that settle to bottom that i try to keep hid
like the dirt that settles in the river once we've all passed
that no one will mention unless they've been on the same path
trying not to let the weight of those thoughts drag you down
like a tree letting it's leaves go after holding too long
the heavy weight of the last few turns that the engine takes
through the windows the faint smell of diesel fumes that pervade
signal that we've made our way close to the station at hand
and all the indecipherable things i've tried to comprehend
sometimes it's easier to pretend to sleep on a train
rather than pay attention to what your thoughts might contain
Track Name: The Birds In Your Chest
the asphalt and decay, in the cities that remain
dance like mountains on horizons
and all the make believe
and four-horsed catastrophes
rusty songs that sing
like 9 volt batteries
always burning the tips of tongues
in the darkened woods we shared
all the melodramatic fare

when we'd sleep in cars
or in the darkened fields
sliding through the mud
under thunderclouds running down the roads
past telephone poles
falling in time
parallel to our spines

when the leaves'd flutter
in the disappearing light
crawling through the woods
on elbows through the dirt
or huddled in diesel vans
trying to understand the street signs ahead
that disappear too fast

clock hands search around
for things that can't be found
always spinning in denial
all the things we gauge
from the silence that depraves

the melodies that hit
while our attention shifts
to planes that move the sky above
and staccato violins play
all the songs we cannot name
empty parking lots
and winding one way roads
traced around by firs
and mossy power lines
couldn't reveal the answers
to the torrential downpours
or the questions that dance
on the tips of all our tongues
the birds in your chest
try to reveal all the names
of the subtle little things
we'd try to understand
and the planes overhead
that hum their own two cents
tell us that we'll never know
of what's and could's and if's
planes move the blue sky
while violins play by and by
and our attention always shifts