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BEST SONGWRITER Minneapolis 2004 - Askeleton

His songs ain't gonna climb every mountain, swim the deepest ocean, or chop down every tree in the Amazon with a Swiss army knife just to pen 3,500-word love songs on the finest wood-pulp paper. But Askeleton albums are epic in a smaller, subtler way. Frontman Knol Tate's music, simple but never simplistic, plays like an adult nursery rhyme, calling out the ancient melodies of the future. Or maybe ancient maladies: On Askeleton's synth-pop masterpiece Angry Album, birds who've had their vocal chords ripped out continue to sing bleak predictions of the days to come. Men with fat, beating hearts grow to be 10 feet tall and then shrink down to nothingness. Cars crash and hills burn and singers die in their sleep. And Tate sounds like he's the only one left to see all of this, an omniscient voice watching from his window, documenting the apocalypse while his iMac sputters out a twinkling dirge. Over his Casio's melancholy bleating, the former Hidden Chord member sings in a cold, computer voice, "Say goodbye to everyone, tell them to get their share/ Goodbye to shapelessness/Goodbye to unhappiness/Goodbye to everyone/ Goodbye to complacency." On his website, Tate admits that even though the song was meant to be about starting over, it sounds like a suicide note. Still, with the lovely, fragile, music-box tune that underlies the lyrics, it's the kind of suicide note that could make you change your mind.

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