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The Roots, The Leaves

by cars & trains

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    This album never sounded better. Black vinyl, regular weight. Artwork by Tom Keating.

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Gatefold CD with semi-matte print, artwork by Tom Keating.

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  • Full Digital Discography Full Digital Discography

    Get all 20 cars & trains releases available on Bandcamp and save 20%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Fictions, Live on WRPI, 4/20/2010, Particles, Secret Worlds, Drifts, Dust, Ten lions and the end of the world, Iris, and 12 more. , and , .

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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
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
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
The Roots 04:28
The Leaves 03:48


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.


released January 26, 2010




cars & trains Albany, New York

electronic-folk toy-instrument live-looping craziness a la the microphones, tunng, psapp, múm. proprietor of
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