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Casiotone For The Painfully Alone
Advance Base Battery Life
Tomlab Records
www.cftpa.org


It's easy to get tired of the music today. Everything seems to fit into a mold and be automatically radio-ready, you know, just in case. The themes are the same, the members and even the rhythms seem to copy themselves. So when I put in Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, I was caught off guard. This music is the kind that puts your faith back in musicians and the fact that there is still original talent out there.

From the very first song off their new album Advance Base Battery Life I'm automatically in love. "Old Panda Days" show you the effects a synthesizer can have on one's subconscious. That's right; they're not just for 'baby-making' songs any more. Though the song does mention "nights of bad sex with stupid boyfriends I shouldn't have kept", the integration between the synth and electronic keyboard (perhaps a Casio?) gives you this rhythm of perfection, yet somehow manages to perform just so, that each lyric is fully heard streaming from Owen's delicate voice. By the end, you really want to know what these "old panda days" are. With "Lonesome New Mexican Nights" we're all transported into a rave that feels like it's held in a church. The electronic elements pulse to the right level and manage to get the little muscles in your body moving. Yet, it's not quite enough to get you out of your pew. There are no other instruments besides the beat and that electronic keyboard. It's a sound that was possibly taken from the page of Thom Yorke.

After about half the album, the band takes a shot at a few covers, one of which is "Streets Of Philadelphia" originally sung by Bruce Springsteen. Seeing as how Bruce's version is so serious and tear-jerking, any band takes on a challenge to cover it. And CFTPA manages to not only keep the sanctity of the song's emotions, but also puts a touch of "electronic" spin on it, making it ever-so-much their own. One of the other covers that wasn't so easily done was Paul Simon's "Graceland." From the man that brought you "You Can Call Me Al," which is a song that, no matter who you are, manages to put a little hop in your step. So when that peppy music was translated into the raw, stripped down synth'd melodies from CFTPA, it came out a little different. Not necessarily bad, just harsher and less pleasant than I would've preferred.

My favorites from the album still come from their originals in the first half. These sounds would go nicely through your ears, while walking down a busy city street, just doing some people watching.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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