Formerly know as Aria Jalali of San Francisco, Railcars is now half-based in Los Angeles. Their new album, Cathedral With No Eyes, expresses this split between two cities. Like a bi-polar teenager going through a parents’ divorce, Cathedral With No Eyes is a short rollercoaster of emotions with everything from waves of aggression to calm zen-like sounds. The album starts out with “Life of Saint Edmund” starts pleasantly with spinning electronic noises around meditative tones. A mixture of meditation and electronic-music, the song compels you to believe everything is okay until it leads into a distorted remake of their song “Castles.” Unfortunately, this new version is a mixture of incomprehensible and distant vocals drowned out by the more aggressive tones that you hear in Life of Saint Edmund. The roller coaster continues through the album, with a little bit of reorganization brought by rhythmic drums and guitar that interchange and sometimes disappear. Ultimately, it feels like a trip through an unfamiliar world, similar to the boat scene in the 1971 Willy Wonka with perplexing images, strange sounds, and that nervous feeling of fearing the unknown. The best way to listen to this album is in succession because the strength of the songs lies in the brilliant blending and overlapping.
A mixture of Bright Eyes’ manic early albums and the current contest for who can make the most crazy sounds with their synths the fastest, an old fan of Railcars may have never seen this transition coming. Although the music is a little more matured in that it is much more intricate and complex, it still lacks comprehension which in the end seems deliberate, as if it’s an attempt to get a realistic message about emotions across.
Originally published in L.A Record, Vol. 4 Issue 10