Note: While this blog post would have been more effective if posted earlier, as a plug for my show last night, it still achieves that longevity insured by the internet and absent from a 60-minute radio show.
Artist Hour is one of my favorite KVRX cornerstones because it is the perfect outlet for obsession, which figures largely in the minds of our DJs. It's a challenge to confront the entire catalog of a single featured artist and whittle it down to a digestible and cohesive hour-long segment that is intended as a representative abstraction, one which is hopefully also interesting and complex. Artist Hour also provides a platform for DJs to speak (and often gush) passionately and convincingly about their favorite music, a sentiment which, I think, translates freely to the audience as well. One of my fondest radio memories is of fielding the phone which rang non-stop during my Jonathan Richman artist hour with calls from listeners who waxed nostalgaic about their experiences at his shows in the 80s. I also realize that this is at least the third blog post which namedrops JR, but I swear that we at KVRX listen to and are capable of talking about other things.
Last night I had the great pleasure of featuring Casiotone for the Painfully Alone as well as Advance Base, two projects which are the providence of Owen Ashworth. As a pretentious high schooler, I wanted to like CFTPA for its whimsically verbose (and rhyming!) name, but after a few perfunctory listens, I couldn't get past the lo-fi production and listless vocals. However, time has passed, and those trademark elements of distortion which used to bore me now coalesce into a profound meditation on the mundaneness and malaise of everyday life. I will sign an affidavit confirming "I Love Credence" as one of the saddest songs ever written, and I have the utmost admiration for the tenderness and imagination with which Ashworth treats all of his albums, but particularly the difficult and tragic subject matter of Vs. Children. For all of its emotional heft, much of CFTPA comes out as a whispered lament swathed in feedback, but Ashworth's fully developed narratives unfolding over hazy casios and a ramshackle drum machine are far more potent than the most bombastic and mawkish expressions of sorrow.
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone expired as an active project in 2010, and earlier in the year I was elated to discover Ashworth's debut under the new moniker, Advance Base, titled A Shut-In's Prayer. Here, Ashworth presents his songwriting idiosyncrasies with a broader musical scope and a more refined production style. "Riot Grrrls," a twinkling account of a friendship dissolved by the banal assault of time and distance, is one of my favorite songs of 2012.