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Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Etiquette

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 17 / 3 / 2006



Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Etiquette
Label: Select Label
Format: CD

intro

Bleak, but beautiful and accomplished fourth album from Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, the nom de plume for keyboardist and singer-songwriter Owen Ashworth


First, an explanation. For a few years now, Owen Ashworth has been making beautiful, damaged music under the nom de plume of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. It’s a suitable name given the subject matter – epic tales of love, loss and loneliness. All sung with the backing accompaniment of a single Casiotone keyboard. Hence the name, you see. Well, four albums in, this is the moment when Casiotone (Owen Ashworth) finally hits the big-time. From here on in it’s no more single Casio keyboard – there are other instruments on this record. Okay, it’s happened before, and it’s no great betrayal of his ideals, but 'Etiquette' is certainly different to Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's previous work. It feels somehow far more accomplished. The big picture still remains a bleak one, however, with the first track, 'New Year’s Kiss', dumping us straight into familiar territory – the soul-searching shame that comes with a stolen moment. Musically, though, the sound is big and full, with booming drums and what sounds suspiciously like a real piano – or, at least, a more expensive keyboard than the traditional Casio. 'Young Shields', the first single, sounds brilliantly like the sort of thing the Pet Shop Boys would be making if they’d started now. 'I Love Creedence' and 'Nashville Parthenon' are oddly country-flavoured, but the sound is more similar to Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's older music. 'Scattered Pearls' is a highlight, featuring guest vocalist Katy Davidson, who lends the tune an ambience similar to the Postal Service. 'Cold White Christmas 'is a suitably broken-down take on the sentiments (but not, thankfully, the tune) of the old standard, with a tale of solitude in the city of St. Paul. 'Bobby Malone Moves Home' is similar, stylistically, to the opening track – as close as we’re going to get here to a rock ballad. 'Don’t They Have Payphones Where You Were Last Night', on the other hand, evokes the ghost of Tom Waits brilliantly to create a smoky, sultry piece of downbeat jazz. If there’s one complaint to make, it’s that Ashworth still seems unable to end many of his songs – too often, they simply stop, somewhat abruptly. Perhaps that’s the point – to disorient the listener and add to the effect. But it’s still annoying. While this album, like its predecessors, is resolutely downbeat – but not depressing – listening, it’s still extremely good, and it gives Owen Ashworth the chance to demonstrate his undoubted songwriting skills. There are three or four gems here, but not a duff track among the others and, as such, it’s worth a listen or two.



Track Listing:-
1 Etiquette I.D.
2 New Year's Kiss
3 Young Shields
4 I Love Creedence
5 Nashville Parthenon
6 Scattered Pearls
7 Happy Mother's Day
8 Holly Hobby (Version)
9 Cold White Christmas
10 Bobby Malone Moves Home
11 Don't They Have Payphones Wherever You Were Last Night
12 Love Connection



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live reviews


Bush Hall, London, 5/3/2008
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Bush Hall, London, 5/3/2008
Despite the pessimistic and miserablist leanings of Californian musician Owen Ashworth, Dan Cressey is both charmed and enjoys his solo electronic project Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's show at the Bush Hall in London


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Advance Base Battery Life (2009)
Variable compilation from Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, the lo-fi project of Californian keyboardist and singer and one man music machine, Owen Ashworth, which neverthless more than justifies its selling price


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