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Advance Base, the solo electronic project of Chicago-based songwriter Owen Ashworth, has released the video for his new song “Christmas in Nightmare City,” off his forthcoming album Animal Companionship, out Sept. 21 on Run for Cover Records and Ashworth’s own Orindal Records.
There’s something somber about driving east out of Chicago. As you leave the shining metropolis and drive down the rusting South Shore, you don’t feel the freedom that you were expecting. You feel something like calcification—like getting more and more stuck. In Gary, Ind., the first city you hit after leaving, the massive factories twinkle from a distance. There’s ugliness, and beauty, and a whole lot of emptiness between those two things.
It’s an intangible feeling, but one that Ashworth captures deftly in “Christmas in Nightmare City.” The piano is looping, hypnotic. Ashworth’s voice is practically next to you, telling you what it’s like in his car as he takes it through the Midwestern night. It’s both poetic and not: “Stop for half a tank of gas/ plus some Skittles and some Diet Sprite,” Ashworth sings. Later, he describes Gary at night: “It’s like Christmas in Nightmare City/ it’s absolutely shocking.” There’s no resolution here, just a restless mind talking to itself in the gas station bathroom mirror, a document of endless circling, of beautifully ugly things.
Ashworth says he wrote the song after spending his nights driving to distract himself from his “minor identity crisis” after he quit drinking. “I was struck by the grace of the industrial work lights, twinkling through the mist,” he wrote in an essay accompanying the release. “They reminded me of Christmas, and I found it all strangely comforting.”
Advance Base will be touring the remainder of this year.
Watch the video for “Christmas in Nightmare City” below, and find Ashworth’s 2015 Daytrotter Session and tour dates further down.
Advance Base Tour Dates:
23 – Lakewood, Ohio @ Mahall’s Locker Room *
24 – Toronto, Ont. @ The Baby G*
25 – Rochester, N.Y. @ Small World Books *
26 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Baby’s All Right *+
27 – Cambridge, Mass. @ Atwood’s Tavern *
28 – Portland, Maine @ Apohadion Theater *
29 – Burlington, Vt. @ Light Club Lamp Shop *
30 – Montreal, Que. @ Bar Le Ritz PDB *
01 – Greenfield, Mass. @ Root Cellar Bar *
02 – Kingston, N.Y. @ BSP *
03 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ PhilaMOCA *%
04 – Washington, D.C. @ Studio Ga Ga *
05 – Charlottesville, Va. @ Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar *
06 – Athens, Ohio @ The New Happiness *
07 – Columbus, Ohio @ Cafe Bourbon Street *
08 – South Bend, Ind. @ Hoover House *
17 – Chicago, Ill. @ The Hideout ~%
18 – Iowa City, Iowa @ PS1 %
19 – Omaha, Neb. @ O’Leavers %
20 – Sioux Falls, S.D. @ Total Drag %
21 – Fargo, N.D. @ Aquarium %
22 – Winnipeg, Mant. @ The Handsome Daughter %
23 – Grand Forks, N.D. @ Ojata Records %
24 – Duluth, Minn. @ Red Herring %
25 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ The Warming House %
26 – Milwaukee, Wis. @ Cactus Club %
07 – Indianapolis, Ind. @ Square Cat Vinyl
08 – Louisville, Ky. @ Surface Noise Records
09 – Chattanooga, Tenn. @ JJ’s Bohemia Û
10 – Knoxville, Tenn. @ The Pilot Light
11 – Durham, N.C. @ The Pinhook =@
12 – Greenville, S.C. @ Cabin Floor Records =
13 – Athens, Ga. @ The World Famous =
14 – Oxford, Miss. @ Proud Larry’s
15 – Lafayette, La. @ Artmosphere
16 – Galveston, Texas @ Galveston Artist Residency @
17 – Austin, Texas @ Hotel Vegas @
18 – Denton, Texas @ Dan’s Silverleaf @
20 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Wise Lounge >&
21 – St Louis, Mo. @ Foam
06 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Wise Lounge >&
07 – Seattle, Wash. @ Barboza >
08 – Anacortes, Wash. @ Kennelly Keys >
09 – Portland, Ore. @ Turn Turn Turn >
11 – San Francisco, Calif. @ Hotel Utah >$
12 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Bootleg Theater >£
14 – Tucson, Ariz. @ 191 Toole >?
15 – Phoenix, Ariz. @ Trunk Space &?
17 – Denver, Colo. @ Hi Dive >?
18 – Boulder, Colo. @ Cherryvale Studio
(* w/ Gia Margaret)
(+ w/ Lina Tullgren)
(% w/ Friendship)
(~ w/ Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else)
(Û w/ Sinai Vessel)
(= w/ Greg Jamie)
(@ w/ Moon Racer)
(> w/ Lisa/Liza)
(& w/ To Bad Catholics)
($ w/ Stephen Steinbrink)
(£ w/ Little Wings)
(? w/ Karima Walker)