Despite his undeniably pessimistic and miserablist leanings, there is something curiously modest about Owen Ashworth. Combined with a slightly shambling nature, this ensures this Casiotone… gig remains enjoyable even when the subject matter veers towards areas that would be mawkish in other hands.

He mixes a ruthless self-examination of past relationships with fuzzy, lo-fi and glitch ridden electronic backing. Imagine Hot Chip remixing Bright Eyes in a half-broken studio and you’re more than half way there.

The ‘half-broken’ bit does become tedious at some points. Substituting electronically generated noise for solo interludes is all very well. Sometimes though these interludes degenerate into what sounds more like malfunction than music.

Ashworth’s songs cover the ground from love to heart-ache, -break, and other aspects of romantic misfortune. But whether he’s delivering an apparently heartfelt admonition to a part time lover or communing with his house’s vermin in the absence of his lover, he’s never less than charming, even when declaring there should be “Less talk, more rock.”

That would have been nice, and his occasional backing singer’s babbling about tap dancing didn’t help matters.

His music may be simple but it is curiously affecting. Of the vermin he sings “the roommates say we should kill them all but they stay up with me on nights you never call, and some nights you never call” from the song on ‘We Have Mice’. You’d have to have a cold heart indeed not to feel for him, whatever your feelings towards mice.

I’d agree with him when he says before one song “all the time I’ve wasted when I could be playing this”. He could have played for another hour without boring anyone. Less talk, more rock please.

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Commenting On: Bush Hall, London, 5/3/2008 - Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

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