On his fourth LP as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Owen Ashworth’s bedroom low-fi project employs not only his usual battery-operated keyboards and drum machine, but also pianos strings, guitars and synthesizers. But what stands out on Etiquette, what makes it so powerful, isn’t the full instrumentation — it’s still not exactly a wall of sound — it’s the moving and earnest lyrics Ashworth deadpans over his dark, minimalist beats and minor chords.
He’s studied his Pedro the Lion and Mountain Goats — many songs sound like Pedro the Lion minus the pop element. But on tracks such as “I Love Creedence,” “Holly Hobby (Version)” and “New Year’s Kiss,” Ashworth delivers his brief but delving narratives with as much poignancy as either of the two singers: “In pursuit of a New Year’s kiss/ Not the way that you’d imagined it/ On a balcony with champagne lips/ But in a pantry against the pancake mix/ You had your New Year’s kiss.” And on the forty-seven seconds of “Happy Mother’s Day,” Ashworth accomplishes what every strong writer strives for: to say exactly what needs to be said with the fewest words possible.
“Young Shields” (MP3) (Right Click Save As)
“Cold White Christmas” (MP3) (Right Click Save As)Tomlab Web site