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Christmas Day

It’s Christmas day for me, so happy holidays to those celebrating a holiday-ish time of year! Here are two presents for you good little boys and girls: a couple of fine songs that came to me through circuitous channels, but were originally off of vinyl. I don’t do vinyl, so I’m glad I could hear these anyway.

01. Casiotone For the Painfully Alone – Graceland. Released by Rococo Records in a 500-edition print.
02. Of Montreal – She’s A Rejecter. Released on the Polyvinyl Records 7″ of the same name.

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Weekly Roundup

Celebrity Quote of the Week: “While I have as much fun as anyone else reading and quoting them, let’s face it, most ‘Chuck Norris Facts’ describe someone with supernatural, superhuman powers. They’re describing a superman character. And in the history of this planet, there has only been one real Superman. It’s not me.”
— Chuck Norris in his new column. He’s just trying to get you to come closer so he can kick you in the face.

We are sorry to say goodbye to Rbally and Clever Titles Are So Last Summer. Best of luck in your future endeavors!

New contrast podcast highlights the one song you love by the band you hate. Matt from Earfarm, I’m ashamed of you, but thanks for sending in “Cherub Rock”! It sent me back in time to 1993, when I used to listen to “Siamese Dream” over and over on the bus ride to school.

In Slate Magazine, Sam Anderson ponders the cultural relevance of Weird Al Yankovic.

Rococo records is releasing a 7″ vinyl of Casiotone For the Painfully Alone’s cover of “Graceland.” I would give my right arm to hear it, but alas, I am vinyl-retarded.

At Moistworks, a couple posts on Turkish music.

In Harp magazine, you can read about the origins of some of the songs on the Crane Wife. Those crazy Leningradians! What will they do next?

It requires a plugin I don’t have, and there’s no way in hell I’ll download a plugin from AOL, but here is a place you can stream Damien Rice’s new album for freeski.

At the Aquarium Drunkard, Blonde on Blonde Dylan outtakes. Useful for something, one would imagine.

Via Stereogum, video for the new Cansei De Ser Sexy song. It’s their best yet — i.e., it’s actually listenable — but the video begs the question: “what are YOU looking at, freaky cat?”

And via Who Killed the Mixtape, the video for the Black Keys’s “Your Touch.” Whatever I was expecting, it was not some lady puking up an egg. Seriously, what is these guys’ fascination with eggs?

Video from Shawshank In One Minute and also in rap form (not safe for work).

And lastly, from Slate again, The Devil Is In the Retailers — unexpectedly funny. If you, uh, have a sense of humor like mine.

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OK; the Dundie for Catchiest Name Ever goes to CFTPA. I downloaded a song on the strength of that name alone – “Jeanne, If You’re Ever In Portland.” Ohhkayyy, I thought to myself, this guy sounds kind of like Fozzie Bear. But by then I was hanging around on the Myspace page, so I thought I’d give “TxTxAxBx” a listen, and it blew me away. I haven’t heard anything so weirdly engaging, well, ever. That slow, hypnotic voice, repeating itself like it’s your bad dream, combined with those banging low beats — beyond coolness. (I realized later that “TxTxAxBx” is just “Toby Take A Bow” slowed down, and he says, “Check out my website” at the end like it’s a subliminal message or something, but still.)

Casiotone began, as I read in the biographies, with Owen Ashworth and a keyboard and a lo-fi tape recorder. I suppose that means I should compare him to John Darnielle, but, nah. They aren’t at all similar. Ashworth has a wildly varied sound — sometimes he ups the beat, as in “Scattered Pearls,” and sometimes he kills you with sarcasm, like the grindingly nasty “Don’t They Have Payphones Wherever You Were Last Night.” Sometimes it’s him singing, and sometimes he gets vocalists (Katy Davidson is your guest solo on “Pearls”).

The subject matter varies too, and it’s clever enough to stay interesting. If Ashworth is painfully alone, he wants us all to wallow in it like he’s doing, and so we throw ourselves down and wiggle around in his pain. “Cold White Christmas” chronicles the hard times that come post-college; “Nashville Parthenon” wistfully wishes for his ex to return; and “Scattered Pearls” is about, well, telling your mom how you lost Grandma’s necklace at a disco. All of it, of course, complemented by the most synthesizer that I’ve listened to since Depeche Mode stopped being interesting.

It’s difficult even trying to sort out what songs to put up as a sampler, but even if the three I choose aren’t to your liking, maybe you’ll hear a song someday and go, “Hey, that song is really great! I must buy the album!” and it’ll turn out to be Ashworth, surprising you again.

Casiotone For the Painfully Alone: Site | Livejournal | Myspace | Label (Tomlab)

[These tracks have been removed. You can contact me if you’d like a copy.]

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Scattered Pearls
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Nashville Parthenon
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – Cold White Christmas