Casiotone for the Painfully Alone | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

The name of Owen Ashworth's one-man band, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, lets you know you're in for some melancholy bedroom pop played on bargain synths. But what it doesn't convey is just how well Ashworth's songs succeed at making depression sound alluring. His lyrics owe a huge debt to the Smiths, and he knows it--on his most recent album, Twinkle Echo, he turned their kicky "Sheila Take a Bow" into the despondent (if still satirical) "Toby Take a Bow." But Ashworth does Morrissey proud: empathetic portrait-songs like "Roberta C." move lightly from generic characterizations ("Listless intellectual / In her prime") to well-chosen details ("Scrabble high score 409 / With a note on the bed") before fanning back out to the universal ("Saying 'True love is hard to find'"). There are hints of the Magnetic Fields as well--adenoidal voice and all--but where Stephin Merritt favors smooth arrangements, Ashworth likes to pair angular, spiky rhythms with thick chords held so long they begin to oppress. It's disorienting at first, but soon the warm, conventional progressions unfold over your sore ole heart like a heavy quilt. "Young Shields," the single that heralds the soon-to-be-released fourth Casiotone album, might be a tad more polished--I think I hear a real cymbal--but the lovely narratives and patina of fuzz remain. Dear Nora, Sleep Out, and Michael Lyons open. Wed 11/16, 8 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, 773-281-4444, $8, 18+.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ann Sterzinger

  • The List: May 13-19, 2010

    The List: May 13-19, 2010

    Critics' Choices and other notable concerts: Gaslamp Killer, Julieta Venegas, Sonoi, Torche, Plants and Animals, Steve Dawson, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and more
    • May 13, 2010
  • The List: April 22-28, 2010

    The List: April 22-28, 2010

    Critics' Choices and other notable shows: Reflection Eternal, Peter Brötzmann & Hamid Drake, Céu, Drop the Lime, the Styrenes, and other notable shows
    • Apr 22, 2010
  • The List: April 1-7, 2010

    The List: April 1-7, 2010

    Critics' Choices and other notable shows: Xiu Xiu, High on Fire, Small Black, Orquestra Contemporanea de Olinda, Little Women, Titus Andronicus, and more
    • Apr 1, 2010
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
October 19
Performing Arts
Love and Information Trap Door Theatre
September 12

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories