People in a Position to Know have been consistently coming up with the most amazing packaging for the lowly single and beyond, from an 8" square colored vinyl of Springsteen covers from Owen Ashworth and his brother to a sprawling 6 LP Wooden Wand boxed set (in appropriately enough...a wooden box), picnic plate shaped lathe cuts if I remember correctly he cut himself on his own machine...well machines plural because you can't have just one....literally, every piece breaks and you probably need to have a couple just for spare parts. It makes you want to move out into a part of the world where the cost of living is way less than brooklyn and start tracking down enough pieces to press your own records...in the meantime I will just be buying what PIAPTK is crazy enough to put together, always amazing, and worthy of blind buying their entire output. Consistently great, I admire all the projects they come up with over there.
It's no wonder Owen agreed to release a second single from his latest project, Advance Base, this time split with Hello Shark out of Burlington, VT, in a really nice matchbook printed chipboard sleeve from Stumptownprinters.
The Advance Base side starts out with a typically heartbreaking track, "Whirlaway The Horse", a Rhodes organ and a Whippany Rhythm Master (thanks liner notes) which is the sole core of his ever skeleton minimal structure. It serves to highlight Owen's songwriting, and this one is just a perfectly crafted story of the horse, Whirlaway that reveals a bar owners story verse after verse, and if this isn't based on some actual conversation late one night in a lonely bar then Owen, you are more of a genius than ever. Delivered in his deliberate understated style, barely rising above the trembling warmth of the organ melody, which against this ancient drum machine always reminds me of the sparse lonely sounds of Arise, Therefore, but Owen always manages to make these sad stories sound optimistic, the pieces seem to be always sort of working against that idea, and that's always the biggest trick of his songwriting, to give those kind of melancholy moments enough charm to be a little bit deceptive almost....once you start to investigate a little deeper.
Next up from Base is "Spanish Flangdang", which is listed as a traditional cover, and has a carnival uptempo carousel melody, which actually is so related to the Whirlaway melody they may as well be twins. This one still is riding that line of sadness, but maybe it's the closeness of these two that makes this sad somehow.
The B-Side from Hello Shark, starts out with "Stayed on an Island", recorded by Joey Pizza Slice in his apartment, the 4 piece reserved band lead by Lincoln Halloran on guitar and vocals, sounds like it works right alongside on old Palace album, he's just as understated in his delivery as Owen and the simple sentiments of making an island out of a mattress or giving a good friend a solo cigarette, come off as intensely personal, you're being let in on this intimate performance that doesn't ever need to be loud or scream for your attention. "Stars are Glow" continues this loose, good friends together writing music, a sleepy melodic track with Brooke Morrison bringing a high register harmony to the low key proceedings. A great pairing with Advance Base, and a serene end to 2011.
Get this one from PIAPTK who says:
The debut release from Casiotone For the Painfully Alone's Owen Ashworth's new band, Advance Base is a split with his Vermont buddies in Hello Shark (voted one of the 50 best new bands in America by the Boston Phoenix). 2 tunes each, in hand-screened arigato paks with free digital download coupon (and instant download upon checkout!).