There are very few artists who can create a sound that is truly eclectic. I don’t mean like Girl Talk or some other mash-up project, as awesome as those are. Owen Ashworth, or Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, is one of those few, great songwriters. Ashworth is clearly an audiophile with a sharp ear.
His music isn’t derivative, but he still manages to make his songs sound like they’ve found influence from today’s hipster buzz artists (like Daniel Johnston and Jens Lekman) as well as some of the greats from the older reaches of the record collection (country, singer/songwriters, David Bowie, reggae and soul).
On his brilliantly titled new album Vs. Children, his song titles are long (like, Sufjan Stevens-long) and his words paint a beautiful portrait of living. What else?
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – “Northfield, MN” (from Vs. Children)
Vs. Children is out now on Tomlab. If you’re here in Chicago, definitely try and catch Ashworth at The Hideout on July 10 with Cryptacize. Here’s Owen’s list.
1) George Jones – “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (from I Am What I Am) – “I heard George Jones sing this song on the David Letterman show forever ago and I had to lay on the floor afterwards it was so good. Lately I find that I think about music a lot more than I actually listen to it, so for a long time, I just walked around with the memory of George Jones singing on TV. This weekend I finally went and bought the album called I Am What I Am. Today it was hot and I spent a long time just driving around with the air conditioning on, listening to this album. When I came home, I read George Jones’ Wikipedia page and listened to “He Stopped Loving Her Today” a bunch more times. I would rate my current interest in George Jones as extremely high. I want to know more about this era of country music. If you are interested in late ’70s/early ’80s country music and you’d like to teach me a thing or two, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can offer you good soup recipes in exchange.”
2) Michael Hurley – “Be Kind To Me” (from Armchair Boogie) – “This makes me in love with music. I want songs around me all of the time, even if they’re only in my head. I am going to try to remember where I bought all of the records I talk about in this thing. I bought the Mississippi Records LP re-issue of Armchair Boogie at Streetlight Records in Chicago, Illinois in February or March or something. Jay from The Extraordinaires recommended it to me years ago and even though it took me a while to to get a copy, Jay, I enjoy the whole album very much.”
3) Bob Marley and The Wailers – “It Hurts To Be Alone” (from One Love at Studio One) – “This is the version with a lady singing. Her voice is elegant and there is a very classy jazz guitar in there. This is the song I play for people who say bad things about Bob Marley. ‘Now you are defeated by your own weapon,’ she says. I bought this double CD at Rough Trade Records in London maybe four years ago. The person working totally rolled his eyes at me as he was ringing me up. What a dick.”
4) Dri – “Inspiration” (from Smoke Rings) – “Dri is a really good singer. This year I went to SXSW for the first time and I saw Dri play in this little East Austin bar, right between the men’s room and the juke box. She had this unbelievable band and they were all just so crazy good. There was an old man doing some fine dancing right in front of the stage and some dude got punched in the nose for chatting up the wrong lady (I’m guessing?). The point is it was one of my favorite times watching live music ever.
“Dri gave me this CD at a one of her shows in Chicago maybe two years ago. Yes, not to brag, but I actually know her personally. Please, it’s no big deal. Anyway I remember I stuck the CD under the sun visor in my car, and then immediately did a U-turn with my window open and the CD flew out into traffic and I had to park again and run out into the street to get it. A cab driver honked and yelled at me and I remember thinking, ‘This CD better be pretty good.’ Guess what? It is.”
5) Wu-Tang Clan – “Triumph” (from Forever) – “We listened to this in the van a bunch on my most recent tour, and it got totally hypnotized in there every time. God bless the Wu-Tang Clan for creating a piece of music called “Triumph” that totally lives up to its name. I hope they won a million Grammys.
“I bought a used copy of Forever at Aquarius Records in San Francisco last year after coming to the surprising realization that I didn’t already own it and I had been listening to my friends’ copies for the past ten years or whatever. Please people buy your own Wu-Tang Clan albums. Masta Killa would appreciate it.”