Album Review: Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – Vs. Children

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone
Vs. Children

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In a highly anticipated follow up to 2006’s Etiquette, Owen Ashworth offers plenty of lo-fi sounds, rounded out not just with his signature electronic tinkering, but with a more grown-up presence.  The honkytonk keys are toned down, and Ashworth slips in a mature selection of horns and strings.  Don’t be fooled though – this is still music for The Painfully alone.

Ashworth broods over plenty of dark subject matter on the album, mostly of a deviant nature.  Criminals, parents and even one of Ashworth’s former co-workers are all lyric fodder, and why not?  No one is spared in this thirty-minute smorgasbord of angst, but great art sometimes requires great suffering.

‘Optimist Vs. The Silent Alarm (When The Saints Go Marching In)’ conjures up the work of Conor Oberst, with a steady country beat and crooning hallelujahs that are the backbone of any great travelling song.  Ashworth sings of “skeletons of cigarettes & empty cans & bottles”, but without any trace of ennui.

‘Northfield, MN’ is a standout track, a moody and lilting monument to every parent’s worst nightmare unfolding – “you took the baby to your mother’s end of June, & kissed her for the last time”.  The staccato keyboards and Ashworth’s deadpan vocals make for an affecting five minutes which will draw you to the track again and again.

The horrorshow is reversed in ‘Killers’, a tick-tock tale of the pressure to abort an unwanted child and the flippant force with which the decision could be made – “call in sick, I’ll get some movies…we could be killers just for one night”.  The music is minimal, and poised to create an atmosphere of morose tension.

The chilling trilogy reaches its third trimester with ‘Harsh The Herald Angels Sing’, a song fit to undo all of the gloss and glory of a certain “edgy” movie about teenage pregnancy released a couple of years ago.  In an apathetic anticlimax, our unwed mother-to-be is harassed by her neighbours and spends the morning puking her guts out.  There are no supportive parents, no baby showers and no unrealities here – “it’s difficult & it’s boring”.

Vs. Children is a collection of uncomfortable stories, but it’s one that you can probably relate to and take comfort in.  If you’re looking for a summer party album, Vs. Children takes a backseat to its predecessor – there’s more of a country flavour, which decreases the tempo significantly.  But hey – while you’re out in the country, you might as well slow down to enjoy the view.

Vs. Children is out now on Tomlab Records.
http://www.cftpa.org/home.htm

Nicky Andrews

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Show preview: Sleepy eyes of death @ chop suey this friday

Sleepy Eyes of Death is one of the best bands I’ve seen in my 25+ years of show-going. My first exposure to them was at a live show last year, when I became an instant fan. It’s obvious they’re serious about their sound and the hard work it takes to prepare for their live show, with all that gear and meticulously placed lights, pays off immeasurably when you’re standing in the audience with their music and fog washing over you.

Chop Suey will be a great venue for Sleepy Eyes of Death – I can’t recommend this show highly enough and hope to see you there. Check back here post-show for photos and an in-depth interview I recently conducted with this amazing local band.

Oh! And check out this video for one of my favorite songs, Final Heart Beats Black.

A few shots from past shows:

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Photos: The Lonely Forest & New Faces @ the Vera Project

The Lonely Forest released their new CD, We Sing the Body Electric at the Vera Project on Friday night. They were joined by New Faces, the Globes and Wild Orchid Children. Sadly I arrived late to the show and missed most of the Globes. Wild Orchid Children had some technical difficulties that made the vocals impossible to hear- always a shame – but managed to do some intriguing drum work among the entire band.

Now, on to the Lonely Forest and New Faces. It’s trite to say that the future of Seattle music in good hands. How many times can you read that and say it? It’s so true though when we’re talking about these bands. They’re luscious. The Lonely Forest gave out homemade cookies and their guitarist kept playing despite a bleeding wound on his left knuckles. My favorite song was Blackheart Vs. Captain America.


You can catch the Lonely Forest again in Seattle with Jeremy Enigk at Neumos on May 14th. I will be there.

I’m probably more than a little crazy about New Faces. Even though he was battling a flu bug, their bassist Kyle kept going, at one point asking for the bass to be turned up. One thing people must know about me is that I love a loud bass so this was bonus bonus bonus. Thank you New Faces. Favorite song? Ms. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.


New Faces play June 10th @ Neumos with Scotland’s 1990s as part Noise for the Needy. I will be there for this one too.

You can see more photos I took of both bands here:
The Lonely Forest @ the Vera Project
New Faces @ the Vera Project

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photos: my bloody valentine @ wamu theater

Loud? Yes. Amazing? Completely. A guy on the bus back to the U-District summed it up perfectly by saying, “I bet that’s what it feels like to fall into a black hole”.

I was able to talk my (non-SLR) Powershot in and grabbed a few photos. Were you there? What did you think?

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Initial 2009 Capitol Hill Block Party Lineup Announced

Wow! Get all the details here.

SONIC YOUTH, THE JESUS LIZARD, THE GOSSIP, DEERHUNTER, BLACK LIPS, EARTH, THE THERMALS, THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART, MOONDOGGIES, SPINNERETTE, THE DUTCHESS AND THE DUKE, MIKA MIKO, THE BLAKES, SLEEPY EYES OF DEATH, GIRLS, HEY MARSEILLES, THE MALDIVES, TRUCKASAURUS, AKIMBO, PAST LIVES, FUTURE OF THE LEFT, MICACHU, STARFUCKER, FAUX PUNK, NEW FACES, HOTELS, PICA BEATS, FLEXIONS, THEY LIVE!, AUDICITY, BOW+ARROW, SOL, JAPANDROIDS

More to be announced soon….

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