Casiotone for the Painfully Alone is one Owen Ashworth, a tall, 28-year-old teddy bear of a man who concocts some of the most melancholy synth-pop tunes around. "My favorite songs have always been the sad ones," Ashworth said during an interview on www.tomlab.com. "I love Hank Williams and the Carter Family and things like that. There's something really satisfying about a really depressing song. Those are the ones that stick with you, I think." Casiotone's tunes do stay with listeners, in part because of Ashworth's hangdog, give-me-a-hug delivery and his rinky-dink, atonal-to-melodic-in-a-second backing music (which is composed completely with beat-up, battery-powered keyboards). But his main draw is his lyrics, which capture everyday heartbreaks and precise moments of deep ennui, all with a sneaking sense of humor. "Although my songs are mainly fiction," Ashworth said in the aforementioned interview, "I think they are in some way documenting the lives of people not too different from me. I like to think of [my songs] as tiny, honest tragedies in the lives of fairly average young people. I hope that they are stories that people can relate to." If Casiotone's growing popularity is any indication, many folks can relate to lonely nights with Smiths records, cellists who choose orchestra over romance, and dates that turn into disasters. Ashworth began writing songs while taking film classes at San Francisco State in 1997, after realizing that it was far cheaper to craft little story-songs than put together entire movies. Initially, he recorded on whatever was available, whether it be an answering machine or a creaky boombox (his first album was called Answering Machine Music, an allusion to both Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music and Ashworth's occasional taping method). Since then, he's released two more full-lengths on Germany's Tomlab label, along with numerous singles and compilation tracks, and embarked on a dozen tours with such indie stalwarts as the Rapture, Xiu Xiu, Kill Me Tomorrow, and Cass McCombs. He's got a new EP coming out before the end of the year, plus a new LP scheduled for early 2006, which means his fans won't have to be sad (or at least as sad) much longer.