[28 April 2010]
Tom Filepp, perhaps better known by the moniker of Cars & Trains, is a multi-instrumentalist who merges electronic blips and pops and strange toy noises with folk to partake in a hybrid genre filled by Mt. Eerie and lesser known (but equally impressive) acts like Radical Face and Sin Fang Bous. Americonica? Electrocana? Whatever name you’d like to give it, the quality of the music is what matters most, and that is an element far from lacking on The Roots, the Leaves. Armed with a banjo, glockenspiel, drum kit, and some processed effects, Filepp excels at creating memorable melodies that have a paradoxically somber sing-song style to them, like commiserating at a funeral over inside jokes. Further still is the narrative style of Filepp’s lyrical delivery, akin to a story by firelight, somehow familiar and accessible. Stand-out songs such as “Asleep on a Train”, which stresses a need for anonymity, and “Drop Ceilings and Daily Planners”, with its expression of cubicle escapism, embody the homespun feel of the album as a whole. Fittingly, as a total experience The Roots, the Leaves is an audio riding of the rails across the States, filled with a sensation of permanent transience across a landscape that is more than the just the sum of its parts. Sounding like a mixture between indie darlings Sufjan Stevens and Why?, Cars & Trains creates a lush and textured environment full of idiosyncratic lyrics and a sense of melancholia that charms its way into your life.