Advance Base has spent the three years since his last record contributing to the works of Sun Kil Moon and Serengeti, but now the time is right for a proper new album. Nephew In The Wild is an American record, full of old-time tales put to a slightly lethargic indie-rock tune. Released as CD and LP by the Tomlab label.
8/10 Robin Staff review, 26 August 2015
Since his last record as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, slumbering songwriter Owen Ashworth contributed to Sun Kil Moon’s critically acclaimed and objectively terrible ‘Benji’, which I hold him in a great deal of contempt for. PSA everyone: do not help a man like that write songs like those. Ashworth’s own music is comparatively pretty and modest, and hearing ‘Nephew In The Wild’ proves a songwriter who can mix twee aesthetics in with a full-bodied Americana that never sounds too much like one or the other.
At first blush, this record did not make did not make a lot of sense to me; I now know that it was because I was playing it in a room full of people, where it works far better as a solitary listening experience that matches the mostly solo vocal performance Ashworth is offering. The arrangements -- often featuring drum machines, xylophonic misdemeanours and twinkling keys -- sound playful, but they disguise the sparseness of Ashworth’s stories, which are mostly plain verse love songs a la one Mark Kozelek, but after more interesting anecdotes and more bizarre scenarios (“your mom complains about the tree” is a nice slice of weird suburbia).
With his shaky near-baritone and his penchant for minor-key melancholy, Ashworth’s music has always sounded best next to your Daniel Johnston records and your favourite Boduf Songs. But it’s his arrangements that are killer: they can enfranchise his stories with a whole new vibe, the twang of “Christmas in Dearborn” giving a whole backyard to the house of quiet keyboard. These are lovely, stay-at-home songs and none of them are about Ben Gibbard. So… cut your losses.
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- Nephew In The Wild by Advance Base
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