Friday, 15 October 2010

It's been a while again...

(Shyly): Hey...

Ok, so I've been shit with the blog. If anybody cares about that I'm sorry. In fact, lately, I've been shit with most of it. I think that in the last post I did (which must have been several months ago now), I boasted that things were more stable, and what actually followed were several more months of decided instability. Two moves. More job moving around, etc. I don't want to get personal or start making excuses, but the blog has not been the first thing on my mind for quite some time. Touchwood, things are far more settled now, and there's a lot to report.

The First Aid Kit show

This was so long ago, it feels odd to comment on it, but of all the gigs I have played over the last few months, this one was by far the lovliest. Partly because of the bulk of the set itself, but mainly because Klara and Johanna Soderberg, with Gabriel Minnikin too (whose praises I couldn't possibly sing enough) joined me for the final song- a cover of Gram Parson's 'A Song For You'. Someone was kind enough to post a video on the YouTube.

There were a few great moments at the Liam Frost show, and many others that I will struggle to remember. Some good, and some completly abysmal, but that's the way it goes. I have enjoyed playing with the Minnikins a whole lot, as I will continue to be doing in the near future.

What's happening now.

I have been talking with a friend of a friend Steve, who is a producer from Manchester I met through a friend. A pretty enthusiastic dude with a lot of time and a lot of resources. He's clearly brilliant, though visably insane, and I can't say that there's anything about that that doesn't appeal to me. We will probably set about doing something real and concrete in the new year. In the meantime, I am focusing on bringing a smaller and more manageable band together in the coming months leading up to the studio time. As usual, the people I have the opportunity to play with are all fucking stunning musicians and good friends, so I'm excited to finally be playing with people again. Of course I'm writing again. Any demos I do will eventually emerge on the blog as per usual. I'll dig the four-track out.

Things to listen to, read and watch

I much prefer to talk about things I'm into on this blog than I do talking about my own ventures, so I'm going to use the opportunity now to create a comprehensive list of everything that's inspired or entertained me lately. It's been so long, I couldn't very easily comment on each one, so instead I'll leave you with it. If you devoured everything on this list, I doubt it would be a fruitless experience for you, but it's probably less time-consuming to nibble on it, as it were. Dig:

Dubliners -James Joyce
The Suburbs- Arcade Fire

Hand To Mouth -Paul Auster


That's all I can think of offhand.

Anyhow, the next post won't take a couple months. Things will happen, &c...


Your Jo


Saturday, 26 June 2010

Been a while...

Hey, dudes.

It's been a long while since my last blog post. I find it really hard to believe that I haven't updated it since April 21st. To be honest, I've been neglecting almost every aspect of the music for some time, down to some pretty big things happening in my life, both mundane matters of employment and more profound personal shit that's made it very difficult for me to sit down with a guitar without accusing myself (wrongly) of being frivolous. It's been difficult, but I've pretty much landed on my feet with regular work and a new place to stay (something of a commune for musicians and eccentrics!), so I'm ready to get back into it and start writing again. I'm sure I've plenty to vent!

First Aid Kit Show (finally)

There are a few shows coming up soon, but one in particular which I'm looking forward to more, perhaps, that any gig in my life. On the 16th of July at the Manchester Deaf Institute, I'll be supporting my good friends First Aid Kit. They've been mentioned heaps in the blog so far and they've been a major source of inspiration to me over the past year in a way that only a handful of people have been. There's a possibility of us singing a few songs together, too. They're one of my favourite bands around at the minute and it's totally worth coming to see them play.

I will also be playing the Soup Kitchen on the 4th of July for a lovely little night set up by one of the most pleasant promoters in Manchester, Garry Thomas. The line-up looks really good. Kathryn Edwards' and Chris Butler of Butler Williams' new band We Are Willow will be playing, as well as Jake Flowers and Christopher Eatough, two lovely guys and incredible performers. It's free, also, so come if you can. The details are here.

Chew Lips @ Topman Control

I very recently played a show supporting Chew Lips at the Cardiff Arts Institute. They were kind enough to have me open for them. There's a video with some clips of the show on Youtube, which I can't watch without feeling totally dorkish and self-conscious. If this seems vain, it's only because I am, but it was a neat show and I thank Tigs and the guys as well as all the people who were involved and helped me out for the good night and the exposure.

Some things to check out...

Just a quick mention of a few things that are worth your time and/ or anticipation. Jo Dudderidge of The Travelling band gave me a special listen to their new record the other week, and I've gotta say that it's going to be amazing. There's no concrete release date but keep your ear to the ground on this one.

Also, a few blogs have leaked some new Arcade Fire songs that will be included on their new album, 'The Suburbs'. 'We used to wait' is particularly beautiful. I know this sounds corny, but I believe in the Arcade Fire. I can't wait for this record. One of the blogs is here. There's also a song on their website.

Damien Jurado, Micah P Hinson and MIA have all released stunning albums as well, that are totally worthy of your time and attention.

Keep it real. See you soon.


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Video from the Union Chapel show!

Thanks to whoever filmed it!


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

My busy seventeenth of April! First London show of the year...

Union Chapel

Finally coming to London! I'll be playing the Union Chapel for an afternoon show at about 2pm. That is, it starts at 2pm. I think I'm gonna be on at three or something, but it'll be worth coming for the other bands. Free entry! The show has been put on by my good friend of many years, Howard Mills, mastermind behind Humble Soul records (one of my favourite independent Manchester labels) and an honest man- a rare breed. The venue is beautiful, and there will be a real piano there that I'll probably do a few songs on. The other acts are The Miserable Rich and Cortina Deluxe. There's some more information on it here. Excited to be playing down South again!

Night & Day

I'll also be playing a charity show in Manchester that night at about 10pm. Its a benefit show for the Michael J Fox foundation. The current line-up is Christopher Eatough, Stations, me and 52 Teenagers. The event details are here. Apparently there will be a real Delorean parked outside, so if you don't come for the music, come for the Delorean and the cause.

Neal Casal

Also, unbelievably, I'll be supporting the mighty Neal Casal at the Ruby Lounge on May the 30th. Neal is one of my favourite guitarists ever and it'll be a real honour to play a show with him. He also just published an amazing book of photographs documenting his time as a guitarist for the Cardinals. Event details for that show are here.

Keep well,


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Gabriel Minnikin

Gabriel Minnikin's new record in progress is a project that I've been really excited about ever since he started recording it last year, and I've been meaning to mention it in the blog for quite a while now. I guess that part of the reason that I haven't so far is that I feel that it deserves far more time, attention and focus than a subheading amidst a load of other news and mentions of bands I know and dig.

When I started playing shows and immersing myself in the Manchester music scene I was still pretty young and I carried a lot of pretty idealistic notions, a central one being that the music industry is meritocratic and the good will always out. For a long time it really seemed to be the case, too. I was lucky to have seen so many great bands receive the recognition that they really deserved. For a while. Nine Black Alps, The Longcut, Cherry Ghost and Liam Frost (let's not mention Fear Of Music) all received considerable record deals and the path seemed to be set for them all to become the 'next big thing'. They all made great records, they were all dropped and the number of people who know about all the afore-mentioned bands is still shockingly disproportional to how good they are. It doesn't change anything to do with the quality of the music, but it does go to show how much affects awareness of good music besides quality or purity of intention. There's a whole load of bullshit too: bureaucracy, timing, fashion, money, press, etc, etc. No surprise that the music industry is as chaotic, complex and seemingly random as anything else that human beings are involved in. It can't always be helped.

Which brings me to Gabriel Minnikin. I first met Gabe a long time ago when I bought a violin bow for my guitar in Johnny Roadhouse while he was working there. Several years later, after fear of music broke up, I asked him if he wanted to play some of the songs I'd written with me. That's how I found out about his music.

Gabriel started out playing in a band called The Guthries, who formed in his native Nova Scotia. The line-up also included his sister Ruth Minnikin and Dale Murray (who both continue to make music under various guises and are still totally amazing). They made a couple of records and broke up. Gabriel has made two albums on his own (well 'on his own'): 'Hard feelings' and 'Wandering Midnight', as well as working with many different artists as a multi instrumentalist. He is also the keyboardist for the awesome Gladeyes, who are one of my favourite bands in Manchester at the minute and are currently finishing their first album. Gabe has since become a close friend, but his music has also been a source of inspiration to me and his attitude to music has had a profound effect on the way I think about being a musician.

Gabe's first two records are pretty incredible. He's a well studied, instinctive songwriter with a great sense of melody and form and a self-possessed, humble, calm attitude towards music. The instrumentation is lush and heavily layered without seeming cluttered or messy. Ruth's vocal additions add something really special to his very low, characterful range. I'm also a really big advocate of his lyric writing, which can be simple and direct, but is more often phantasmagorical, nonsensical and dreamlike in a way that never seems pretentious or contrived.

The album he's currently working on is his most ambitious so far, and it totally shocks me that its production has seemed to slip entirely under the radar. Somehow, he's managed to make an entirely DIY record with virtually no money that includes something like 100 musicians on it. A full orchestra, a thirty-odd piece choir, a band, brass, timpani drums, tubular bells... I make a brief appearance on one of my favourite songs of his and Ruth frequents a large portion of the tracks to beautiful effect as always. Sam Lench of Samson and Delilah has contributed as producer and Engineer alongside Gabriel and his talent's really shone through and made it happen.

I think that there are a few very rough, messy mixes on his Myspace, but it's really going to come together in the mixing, when everything is given its place. I'm always surprised that when I mention this project to people, no one is really aware of it. I think this is partly down to Gabriel's preference for doing things in a very insular way. He doesn't exactly scream it from the rooftops, but I think that he deserves a lot more recognition than he gets and I know that it bothers him (he has a pretty good song about it).

I know it could seem dubious to post a blog singing the praises of a good friend of mine, but I'm convinced I'd be trying to spread the word about this record whether I knew him personally or not. I honestly and sincerely believe in what he does and the lack of buzz surrounding him is a constant source of disbelief and bummed out feelings for me. I may have accepted that sometimes great artists don't get the recognition they deserve, but I haven't stopped believing that great artists deserve recognition and the most I can do is express my enthusiasm things I really love.


Saturday, 3 April 2010

A general update...

Well, it seems I've fallen short of my plans again and I've failed to put any more demos online for several weeks or post anything here at all. And it had been going so well, too... I have nothing new to post in the way of new tracks, but its been a rollicky couple of weeks and I just haven't had the stability to actually sit down and finish anything, either in my songwriting or my recording, so if anyone was getting used to my commitment to posting new tracks on here for the whole, like, two weeks it lasted, I apologise. I have two new songs that feel like I'm about ready to wrap up and I'll post them here soon.


There have been a few exciting things happening, however, and they're definitely worth a mention.

Firstly (and i think its ok to say something about this now) my good friend of many years Daniel Parrott has offered to help me get some things off the ground I couldn't seem to on my own. Most importantly this means I'll be recording an actual E.P with a release and everything in the very near future. The preliminary plan is to do a limited 1000 copies in physical form and a full digital release, which I'll sell mainly at shows and on tours. It will be without band for this one. Very stripped down! Kathryn Edwards has said she'll lend some of her beautiful voice to a few tracks. We also have the means to do the whole thing on reel to reel tape, which is
pretty exciting to me as a vintage gear fetishist.

Sebastian Matthes

Off the back of that, I'll also be doing a photoshoot with Sebastian Matthes (amazing live Wu Lyf shot pictured left), a really fabulous and talented photographer who has been working the manchester scene for quite a while. You may have seen his work on the Delphic poster that was in HMV for a while with the Anthony Burgess (or was it Tony Wilson?) quote. Anyhow, It'll be a delight to work with him, and as well as indulging my vanity, which is always welcome, it will be accompanied by a general online revamp of the myspace page, etc, to give the illusion of professionalism, which is ultimately what being professional is all about. All youthfully arrogant statements aside, however, I'm looking forward to having a nice page for people to visit and I'm happy to be working with an artist that I really admire and respect.

Also, a quick reminder: this Thursday (the eighth of April), I'll be supporting the Paris Riots at my favourite venue in Manchester, the Deaf Institute, so come if you're around. Dauntingly, I will be playing a solo set between two pretty full-on rock bands, which should be interesting. And look, there's my name on the poster! Finally made it, ma.


Saturday, 20 March 2010

A new demo and tonight's show...


I thought i'd put up the demo I did last Sunday afternoon on the blog. It took me a long time to get my head around this tune. It was written very late at night and I was in a pretty strange state of mind and if I'm honest I was kinda weirded out by it. This recording this demo really saved it from a scrapheap fate. I'm really pleased with the general feel of it and it has secured its place as a regular addition to the set. I hope you like it. If you listen to the end of the tune carefully, you can hear the birds singing outside the window of my living room.

Hope Mill!

Tonight I'll be playing Hope Mill supporting Paper Boats, a really incredible band and the new project of Manchester singer-songwriter Petty Thief, who I have already mentioned as one of my favourite songwriters on the Manchester circuit at the minute. I heard Paper Boats soundcheck at the Night And Day several months ago and they were already tight as fuck so tonight should be a blinder.

The show at the Bay Horse was a lot of fun, but a bit of a circus. I put this partly down to an extra glass or two of wine on my part, but the sound was fairly messy as well. Its a really promising night with really lovely promoters and I guess they're still finding their feet. You could say the same of me. Eleanor Lou (who I used to play keys for) supported, and she's sounding really great. She has a really strong instinctive sense of melody and I miss laying the piano on for her. The other band was a group of three guys called Films, and they were also interesting. I'd like to see how their kinda garagey choral sound develops.

Don't hold your breath or anything, but...

There's some talk of a solo EP soon. I haven't given up on a band record at some point but doing a strong set of recordings of what I'm doing on my own feels like the right thing for where I'm at at the minute. I'd love to get back into the studio again. Recording is one of my favourite things in the world. It'll be nice to be able to be helped toward a much more considered aesthetic with the sound in that kind of environment. I may be able to do it to tape as well, which appeals to me a lot as a total vintage gear fetishist. The talks about it have been so preliminary I don't want to commit to even the vaguest of timelines, but it shouldn't take so long. I'll keep y'all informed from the blog.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

For I am an Engine...

Another fun, productive day of hanging out and making music, and a visit from Mandola playing buddy Liam Markham has left me with two new tracks to post up here. I'm going to embed a Neutral Milk Hotel song we've done today. 'Engine' was a B-Side on the 'Holland 1945' 7"single. If you're unfamiliar with Neutral Milk Hotel, you should probably jump on their geeky, underground band wagon. 'In the Aeroplane Over The Sea' is actually my favourite record of all time. I know that I'm prone to making superlative statements like this, but it has held that position unwaveringly for three or four years.

Its their second album and everyone agrees its the more accessible of the two. The songwriting is incredibly idiosyncratic, occasionally pretty messed up and lyrically very Jungian in its use of free-associated imagery. A lot of the Lyrics were inspired by the lead singer, Jeff Mangum's recurring dreams about belonging to a Jewish family in Europe during the second world war after being profoundly affected by reading Anne Frank's diary (although I don't know how much that story has been exaggerated or distorted through lazy journalism). Sonically its one of the most inventive records of the past few decades, albeit in a very understated, subtle kind of way.

The other track is a new one of mine. I'll post it on the blog in the week at some point.

The Zanzithophone , Mandola and lower harmony were done by Liam. I did the main vocal, played the guitar and also the electric guitar through the supersonic fuzz gun. We mixed it together but, as always, Liam saved the day with his possession of all the technical knowledge needed to make mixes not sound like a total piece of shit.

Engine (Neutral Milk Hotel Cover) feat. Liam Markham by Jo Rose


Monday, 15 March 2010

All Change URL...

The most boring fucking blog post of all time.

That's right, folks! Its not just self-perpetuated hype. This actually is the most boring fucking blog post ever written by anyone ever. Even me.

All of the addresses to my various websites/ social marketing tools (save facebook) have changed, for the very dull reason that 'The Hard Hearts' was never a band name I'd willingly have stuck with, and all the web addresses included it. They were stopping me from letting go. I talked to my psychoanalyst and he suggested it'd be best to change it and throw out the litter tray of the cat that ran away almost six months ago while I was at it too. The litter tray was hard to do. This wasn't.

So the new addresses are as follows:


Clever, huh? If you do type in the old one (, you get redirected so it doesn't really matter, but any step towards getting rid of the old shitty, regrettable band name is something I'll take into my loving embrace.


The Blog (this blog):

If you fancy a self-enforced sisyphean fate, you can keep clicking on the link above forever.


Take note!

Your pal,

Jo Rose

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Andy Crane, Don McCullin, More First Aid Kit

The Andy Crane Show

Me on a discussion panel with a professional comedian and a prospective Labour MP shouldn't really work, but somehow I managed to come out looking like something more than a complete philistine. You can listen to it here for the next seven days on BBC iplayer. It was a truly odd experience. I'm always tentative about forming opinions on fairly complex issues so i couldn't help but cringe at myself trying to form a conclusive answer on whether the second cabinet should be elected or not. At least I knew more about poetry than anyone else. I guess I'm an introvert. That's my excuse, anyhow. The performances went well, i thought, and they had lots of calls, which both moved me and freaked me out in equal measure. It was recorded and broadcast from the lobby of the Lowry theatre, with members of the general public casually walking in and out, which was pretty bizarre, as was playing the three tunes, for the duration of which the place went funereally quiet.

Shaped By War

I don't know how many of you have registered the posters up for this exhibition, but they left enough of an impression on me that I jumped at the opportunity to rush to the imperial art museum and back in the twenty minutes between finishing doing the BBC broadcast at the Lowry and the engineer finishing packing up his equipment. Its a compelling collection of photographs by photojournalist Don McCullin, often harrowing and very compassionate and brave. Its on until the 13th of June and I'd really recommend going to see it. I'm going to go again this week so I can spend more than ten minutes there. I felt like I only really scratched the surface today. His work is very beautiful, incredibly honest and it explored the subject of war in a way that was very human: one that focused on the experience of fear, loss and grief individuals face rather than anything more abstract. It was very raw and often very difficult to look at, but when its brought home to you how many people have lived through such inconceivably hard times, I feel its of enormous importance that its acknowledged.

First Aid Kit

Klara from first aid kit sent me back the Gram track yesterday, with her and her sister Johanna singing harmonies on it. I'm not sure I'm ready to post it on the blog yet, so there will probably be a period where I figure out what the right thing to do with it is. I was happy with what I did, but when I heard Klara and Joanna's harmonies on it my heart just stopped. I love the way they sing so much. Their intonation and phrasing their visceral sense of creating harmonies is really beautiful. Their Dad mixed it and I was really pleased with his style of production. Very characterful and unusual. I thought it added a lot. Keep your ear to the ground on this one, because I'll do something with it at some point.

You might notice also that I've removed the track as it was before from the blog post below. It was deliberate, I admit it. Remember: deprivation breeds appreciation. And with actively depriving you of something you might enjoy soundly rationalised, I'll leave you.

Thanks for reading. More soon!,


p.s- There's also another new song I'm in the process of demoing. I'll post it up here when I'm done with it. I'll keep that one up, I swear.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Another Name For Mercy

This is a pretty new song that I finished demoing tonight. Sorry its taken so long. Liam and I recorded the guitar and vocal last week and I put some piano, organ and electric guitar down this evening. I hope you like it. I'm pretty computer illiterate, but I think its possible to download these tracks. If you figure out how, feel free to. I'm not going to get precious about rough demos.



Another Name For Mercy Demo 08/03/10 by Jo Rose

So take me down to your dancefloor...


I made a promise earlier this week (albeit a tentative one with vague warnings of disappointment) that I would have some new finished demos to put up by Wednesday. I got myself into a sticky situation with getting my piano back, which I really felt I needed to get the tracks to a point at which I was happy with them. Perhaps its a little arrogant of me to assume that anyone noticed, but I like to acknowledge things when I don't follow through with them as I say I will. So there it is.

Yesterday Jo from The Travelling Band popped over to return my keyboard and to do an organ part (he's such a great organ player) for the afore-mentioned collaboration with First Aid Kit. I thought I'd post where we're up to so far with it as I like being able to share things with people whilst they're in the formative process. Its a rough mix, and I'll need to redo my piano part as I'm not 100% on it. The song, 'A Song For You', is a tune by Gram Parsons, who Klara, Johanna, Jo and I are all big fans of. Aside from being one of the best songwriters ever, he was also an incredibly interesting guy. I urge anyone to listen to his studio recordings, anything he did with the Flying Burrito Brothers and to watch the documentary 'Fallen Angel'. The biography entitled 'Hickory Wind' is really good too.

A Song For You Rough Mix by Jo Rose

This song in particular is maybe my favourite of his. Its a hard one to do any kind of justice, but I'm getting extremely excited picturing the girl's voices on it, because I love the way they sing together. I'm also considering getting the mighty Gabriel Minnikin to do some of his low harmonies on the chorus and some of his beautiful mandolin playing. I'm spoiled for friends who are amazing musicians.

There's another demo on the way. I'll tidy up the mix a little and send it out maybe tonight or tomorrow morning.


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

My Grandparents have the greatest record player in the world.

Visiting my grandparents yesterday before my sister joined us to celebrate her seventeenth birthday, the topic of conversation (somehow) turned to turntables. My Granddad walked to the other side of the room, reached underneath a chest of drawers, and took out this dusty old box. It turned out to be my Granny's old Gramophone- a Columbia model from her girlhood she listened to her records on before the general changeover into electric turntables.

It was a beautiful, beautiful thing. The lid of the box rested on an angle that was specifically set for the optimum tone and amplification from the analogue speaker. You had to wind it up about twenty times before you lifted the arm, clicked it in place to start the motorised turntable spinning and place the needle on the outer rim of any one of the vast collection of old 78s they had aquired. My Granddad explained to me that on these old models, you had a variety of needles that you used for different types of records to allow for different groove sizes and genres. Fat ones for Rock and Roll and big band sides and thinner ones for Jazz and Blues Records. He told me that you could replace them with hawthorn needles. This may all seem inconvenient by modern standards, but there was something sacred in everything about it. Starting a record playing was a ritual- replacing the needles, winding it up, delicately putting the arm in place, being prepared to rewind it in case the motor relents and the tempo dips.

And the sound! No-one makes records like that anymore. We listened to the Everly Brothers, Bix Beiderbecke and his Jazz Orchestra, Little Richard, amazing Billie Holiday originals, Mugsy Spanier and his Ragtime band (my Granddad's 'all time hero'). Songs like 'Margi' and 'Wake Up, Little Suzy'. I'm embarrassed to say that today was the first I have ever heard of Bessie Smith: 'the empress of blues'. She was one of the most important discoveries of the night. 'Cemetery Blues', 'Empty Bed Blues' , 'Any Woman's Blues', were all totally heart-stopping. Her voice and songs are so completely unique to her and beautiful. The actual sound of the thing itself was so raw and organic (and fuckin' loud). The analogue effect has to be heard first hand because the timbre and physical effect on your body is impossible to recreate digitally. It was like the difference between hearing a classical piece of music on record and hearing it in a concert hall, with each unique instrument effecting the vibrations of the entire room on a different level.

There's something about the immediate availability of music now the most prominent medium is digital formats, for all the potential and ease it offers, that makes me a little frivolous and irreverent in my attitude to putting a song or a record on. It was cool to feel the same sense of excitement the I remember experiencing being very young, plowing through CDs and tapes of aritists like The Beatles, Neil Young, Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Sonic Youth and The Rolling Stones, feeling that the whole thing was very private, insular and profoundly important.

I'm told that the Gramophone is available to me anytime I want to come 'round, so I intend to make the most of the opportunity.

Yeah, I'm a geek.


Monday, 1 March 2010

Newsom, Bears, Posters, Fuckups.


The new Joanna Newsom album is out, and in buying it toady I took one more step towards brokedom. Willingly. The packaging and sleeve art is insanely beautiful. I hadn't even realised it was out. I got magpie eyes for it when its inclusion on the Piccadilly Records rack took me unawares. If you weren't blessed enough to hear her classic second record 'Ys', you should totally listen to it. I went to see her a few years ago, complete with orchestra, and it was fucking amazing. For those who found the first record too quirky (a judgment that I don't understand subjectively, but can objectively understand sorta), the second is a much more accomplished affair. As I said with Jesca Hoop, its probably best just to listen to it. My descriptive skills are pretty poor comparatively and language is too inherently impoverished anyhow. I can't wait to listen to when the the flat's empty so i can turn the sound up to eleven, etc.

Ten Bears

My good friends and recipients of my religiously devoted fandom Ten Bears directed me to their myspace to listen to their new song today. Those guys rock so much. Their new song is totally different to the other more guitar-based music but, all lazyjournalismtotallymissingthepoint 'move over Lady Gaga' jokes that will inevitably come up aside, its a really strong song with an arrangement I really didn't expect and I think its great . They're one of my favourite bands in Manchester, really lovely guys and additionally have the best and most beautifully ridiculous, insane youtube channel of any band in the world.

Paper Boats at the mill

Forgot to mention yesterday the other gig I have coming up supporting Paper Boats at Hope Mill in Manchester. There's a very purdy poster up for it. Hope Mill was renovated by my mates Rick, who used to play drums with me in the doomed Fear Of Music and Aaron, who plays under the pseudonym Petty Thief and is another one of my favourite songwriters in Manchester. That boy is true blue. Its a really great venue and it promises to be a really fun show.


I sent the rough mix of the Parsons track to First Aid Kit today to a generally enthused response alongside a polite mention that I got the last lyric wrong ('and tomorrow we may still be there' sung 'and tomorrow we will still be there'), which obviously neglects the whole fucken point of the song, so i'll have to do the whole thing over tomorrow. I'm kinda glad that I have a second chance to do it even better, because I know that their contribution will be worthy of the best take I can possibly do. At the very least, it'll be worthy of the right lyrics.

Lurve from



Sunday, 28 February 2010

New Demo The First!

Hey all,

Liam and I have spent a day hanging out and making demos. I'm getting a lot done writing wise at the minute and I thought it would be a cool idea to make them available on the blog. They're all pretty rough, imperfect and full of weird mistakes and gliches but I like that in a recording, as I've said before, and I think they serve as great early representations of the song. I'm probably going to put them up gradually, with the aim being to post about two a week (but don't hold me to it. I'm no robot), so as not to spoil you or overdo it.

This song has actually been around for a bit. Liam is playing mandola on it and he did most of the mixing. We had a good time and we talked in a pretty non committal way about doing a recording session every weekend. Its good just to do something creative that isn't totally insular.

Well, enjoy.

The Maiden Name Demo 28/02/2010 by Jo Rose

The other one will probably be up in a few days. I have a few tweaks to make on it.

We also recorded the guide track and my vocal for a cover of the Gram Parsons song 'A Song For You' which First Aid Kit will have added vocals and hopefully more (I'm holding out for some of Johanna's organ playing, too) by the time its done, which is immensely exciting for me, what with those guys rocking and everything.

Moreover, I've booked another couple of shows. One is in London on the 17th. I'll be playing at the union chapel with the Miserable Rich that afternoon. I think I've already mentioned the potential full-band set on the 8th of April at the deaf-institute supporting the Paris Riots. I'm feeling tentative about promising it, but it almost certainly will happen. I'll keep y'all informed. Also, on the 18th of March, I'm doing a solo show at the bay horse in the Northern Quarter with Films supporting. Its going to be pretty twee. I've been told there will be cake and live painting, so don't expect a riot or anything, but it should be pretty good if you're strung out on downers or something and need somewhere to sit down.



Friday, 26 February 2010

Balcony Doors- The fabled Double-Speed 4-Track Version!

Liam just sent me the alternate version of Balcony Doors when the four track was left on double-speed by mistake. Thought i'd share...


Balcony Doors (awesome version) 1 by Jo Rose

Comic Books And Nicola Rose!

Howdy y'all

When I posted Wednesday's blog, I was really struck by how many people had checked out stuff that I was into that I'd mentioned . To be honest, I'd only ever really thought of it as a means of getting news across and reassuring people who might care that I wasn't dead, but I love the idea of it being a space in which I can share stuff that I love with my friends and anyone who's passing through.

So if you're willing to indulge me, I thought I'd share one of my other big passions besides music in today's blog. I've been pretty obsessed with comic books since I was really young, and there was a point that I really wanted to be a cartoonist. I sort of dropped it ages ago, but I still keep tabs on who's been doing exciting stuff recently and I'm always discovering older books. Here's a few people who are worth really worth reading:

1. Adrian Tomine

I first read one of Adrian's comics as part of the mcsweeny's collection, but I recently discovered his earlier Optic Nerve series. The first seven issues were hand-printed and distributed from his home, sending them out in the mail. His style really gets to me. His stories are short: normally just a few pages, but he seems to be able to encrypt so much stuff into these sparse strips. I like his more recent stuff, but I don't think he's ever topped Optic Nerve. Its great to read the set in full to see how much he developed in such a short space of time. His technique, both in terms of his storytelling and his drawing style improves so much by the seventh issue.

2. Art Spiegelman

This guy is by far more well known. You might have read or heard of Maus, a book in two parts that chronicled his father Vladek Spiegelman's experiences in a German concentration camp
during the second world war. This is quite rightly what he's best known for, because its maybe the best comic ever written by anyone and one of the most affecting and beautiful works of literature of the twentieth century full-stop. If you haven't read it, you totally should. I'll lend you my copy if you don't want to shell out because that's how strongly I believe that everyone should read it.

He's also important for a whole lot
of other reasons. He founded raw magazine, a collection of subversive arty comic strips for 'damned intellectuals' with his wife, Françoise Mouly (who's also amazing). It can get pretty fucked up, but its up there with Mad magazine for me in terms of collections and cultural significance. Its worth checking out his other recent work 'in the shadow of no towers', an account of his experience with post-traumatic stress disorder after directly witnessing the collapse of the world trade centre. Its much more life affirming and important and much less depressing than it sounds.

3. Jeffrey Brown

I think I discovered Jeffrey Brown's stuff years ago in Dave's Comics in Brighton (my favourite comic shop in the world), but it wasn't until recently that I realised just how much skill goes into creating the emotional depth
beneath his deceptively simple drawings. His autobiographical comics normally center around relationships but more recently he's moved beyond that quite a bit. There's something about the way he writes that perfectly captures the rhythms of daily life and makes being a human being a little more acceptable. He also does some really cool quasi-superhero comics and has a great book of observational drawings about his cats, which is about as accurate a depiction of how weird cats are as you can hope for.

4. Lynda Barry

I love Lynda Barry's comics. From what I can gather, she was sort of in with the same crowd that Charles Burns and Matt Groening belonged to, and although I'd say there are subtle aspects to her work that are similar to those guys, she does something all of her own. Her drawings are really engrossing and she has some really beautiful things to say about the creative disposition and the spirit of play. Her comics about childhood are a lot of fun. I find her comics really mystifying and sobering at the same time.

5. Daniel Clowes

I know you know this guy, but he's only as well known as he deserves to be. 'Ghost World' is probably the most widely-read thing he's published, but its also worth reading other, less well known books and series that he's done. My favourite book by him is probably 'Ice Haven', which is a little more stylistically varied and self-referential than Ghost World. You can talk shit about Daniel Clowes forever, and lord knows plenty of people do (he kind of mocks this in Ice Haven a couple of times), but the fact is that he's one of the best comic book writers living in the world today.

I could probably go on for ever, so here are a bunch more links of people very worthy of your attention to explore:

Craig Thompson
Robert Crumb
Calvin & Hobbes
Alan Moore
Lilli Carré
Harvey Pekar
Harvey Kurtzman
Joe Matt
Gabrielle Belle

Nicola Rose!

I finally managed to convince my ma she has a beautiful voice the other day by recording her on my laptop. I thought I'd post it up here for your enjoyment/ appreciative ears/ voyeuristic curiosity:

Nicola Rose- Moon River by Jo Rose

More soon!


Thursday, 25 February 2010

Breaking The Block!

First Aid Kit

I forgot to mention in yesterday's post, deep though I was in music-recommendation mode, to mention the headliners at the second Deaf Institute show. First Aid Kit are a Swedish band comprised of two sisters (although they were touring with a drummer). Its really beautiful stuff. They're voices, harmonies, songs and general intention really impressed me. I had to leave early in their set to get my equipment home, which I felt a bit of a cunt about because they had been so friendly and humble the whole time I was there, and also because its customary to listen to the other bands, since you'd typically expect them to give them the time day. I caught the first few songs and was enjoying it so much I had to drag myself out of the venue. I listened to their music as soon as I got back to the flat, and I was even more disappointed to have missed them. I like their fleet foxes cover more than I liked the original and they do jilted love songs about as well as you can.


Tomorrow is my last day of work this week, and I'm lucky enough to have a four-day weekend. I'm planning to take advantage of the free time and space to finish some songs, as I alluded to in yesterday's post. I enjoy the process of writing and the satisfaction in finishing a song more than just about anything in the world, but I have to confess that there are whole periods where I'll completely neglect it. I can be a terrible procrastinator. This manifests itself in things like (and this is only an example) writing a blog about intending to write songs when I could just as well be using the time to actually write.

The first two months of this year have been pretty creatively slow. Back to back gigs and a lot of time working my job in the Toy Shop (yeah, I work in a toy shop) have meant very little time to tune out the world. In slumps like these, I often turn to recalling methods I used at times when I was working harder and holding back less. I was thinking about this today and remembered the very anal but effective system I developed while I was still at sixth form, which was probably the most busy and enjoyable creative period of my life. Getting this down is as much to help my memory as it a desire to share it, but I always enjoy hearing about other people's songwriting methods, so it makes sense to put it out there. Feel free to use it. From what I can gather, creative process is a pretty personal thing so it may just totally stall you. Fairly warned, be ye, says I.

The Jo Rose writing system!

You will need:
  1. Two notebooks, lavishly and melodramatically personalised. I chose to put a pretty angsty photograph on my first ('notebook one' henceforth) and a picture of Ryan Adams typing feverishly on a manual typewriter on my second ('notebook two'), as a constant reminder that some people actually work really hard.
  2. One Dictaphone.
  3. A lot of those mini Dictaphone tapes.
The method:

The most important thing is to not let any ideas go, no matter how scrappy or partially formed, in notebook one. I invariably get flashes of song lyrics, arrangements, images and stories in my head during the day and convince myself I'll remember them, only to get to the evening and realise that I don't even remember the gist. The purpose is for nothing to get lost. Unless you can write music or have perfect pitch, you'll also need the Dictaphone for melodies, etc.

Behind the block of flats where I live, there's a few miles of open spaces: woods, meadows and rivers. You can walk around for hours and not see anyone at all some days. I walk around with notebook 1 in my pocket, listening to guitar parts on the Dictaphone, mentally singing over them and writing stuff as it came to me. I'd say before I left the house that I wouldn't allow myself to come back until I had the first draft of something. It almost always works. King Of Your Blue Eyes was written like this.

When I get back, I write it up as pretty as I can in notebook two. I normally typewrite it. Partly because it makes it more fun to edit later down the line, and also I get an ego boost off entertaining some Kerouacian/ Dylanesque romantic aesthetic. If goofy things like this satisfy your ego enough to allow you to put it aside so be it, I say.

Come back to it when you're ready and edit. Brutally. Then play it to a good friend, pretend its a song by someone famous and hope they don't notice.

Thinking about music.

Something that's always interested me is the infinitely different ways that people think about music. I once saw a documentary about this savant who had this superhuman mathematical ability. I think he famously recited pi to a gazillion decimal places or something. He said that when he thought about numbers, he imagined these shifting landscape and it just made sense to him. Its very similar to the things I've heard from friends about making music. My friend Liam, for instance, who plays Mandola in the band and who has a really natural feel for music told me that he visualises colours and shapes when he hears different timbres. He sees chords in terms of physical space, relating to fifths. For example, F would be in front of C, and G would be behind, with G above F and F sharp in between.

When I was a kid and I was first starting to play guitar, I imagined a drama being played out between the chords as I was playing. For instance, if I was playing in the key of G, G (the root note) would be the popular assertive one that all the other chords would begrudgingly comply with. C would be its favourite and D would be the one that came crying to when it was bored of C, and the minor chords occasionally came from outside the social group and just fucked things up. I could go on, but you get the idea. The theme I've noticed is people using things they can relate to to describe something that's totally abstract. It could just be me, but this stuff really fascinates me. Its proof that there's no 'right' way to think about creating music: something good to remind yourself of when you're getting heavy with method. See? It kinda all tied together. Not a total tangent.

I can honestly say that's enough from me.

Speak soon,



ps: If any of you know me through Fear Of Music and are interested in what the other guys are up to, Ali sent me his new band's website address. he's totally reinvented himself...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

'Its been a long time/ A real long time...'

Hey dudes,

Its been a while since I put up a blog post. Whether that's because I haven't felt like enough has been happening to justify one or if I haven't been looking hard enough I'm not so sure. Looking back, so much has happened I'm struggling to organise it all into anything structured or coherent.

There've been a lot of shows. Perhaps too many for my weary body to take alongside a full-time job, but i've enjoyed it, even if my body is still begrudging me for it. The highlight for me so far has been the Jesca Hoop support show. It was the first time that I felt that I had a real sense of what I was doing, rather than just making my way through the songs. I was joined for two songs by Kathryn Edwards, who you should totally check out if you haven't listened to her stuff before. Hers is one of my favourite voices and I always get a kick out of singing with her. She gave me a copy of her single the other day, and its a beautiful thing. Jesca was amazing too, and I can totally recommend her. Its useless trying to describe what her music is like. Anything I say will fall short of it, so you should probably just listen to it and if you don't 'get it' you should probably listen again because you'll clearly have missed something.

I also did my first full band show in ages, complete with pedal steel, mandola, piano, bass, drums and electric guitar. It fell short on the sound during the actual set, but during the soundcheck when I could actually hear what the fuck was going on it sounded great. I think its really beginning to gel. I'm still in two minds about whether I should play acoustic or electric guitar. I guess there's time to experiment. We should be playing together again for the Paris Riots support show I just booked for April the eighth.

The headline act that night was my good friend and piano player, Gabriel Minnikin. He was joined by an eighteen-piece orchestra (or thereabouts), and a five piece band. It was amazing. That dude doesn't get any way near the recognition he should.

Last night I joined The Travelling Band for a few songs during their set at the deaf institute, which was a whole lot of fun. I've always loved those guys. We did a song by Damien Jurado, who is somebody else I'd recommend. I'm sorry to keep throwing names, but I think its more interesting to spread the word on good stuff rather than just go on about myself relentlessly with no mention of all the other cool music that's out there. He's my favourite songwriter (living) at the minute. His songs are just extraordinary. If I find one I like, I'll just listen to it over and over again, and I'll just be somewhere else for a while. He's a fantastic storyteller, singer and poet.

With all this that's been going on I haven't really had time to stop, so I'm making a conscious decision to slow down and write before playing the same songs all the time starts to make me bitter, bored and detached (know what i mean, musicians?). I think that if I entirely absorb myself in gigs, labels, myspace, blogs and all that external, busy stuff, I'll end up neglecting the quieter internal space where songs are nurtured and created. That and getting the band more together, which is something I'm really enthusiastic about.

Before I go, there was a mention in a blog that I was really happy about. Press!

Thanks for reading,

Your pal,

Jo Rose


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Love & Disaster and XFM session

You may notice upon a close inspection of the above photo that i am in it! I am told that in the original photo, i was cross-eyed, and they very carefully, artfully and seamlessly edited it to make me look halfway normal next to all those dudes to my right.

But that's just an aside. The real purpose of this blog is to spread the good word about the new love & disaster EP (1) that i have been lucky enough to have been offered a place in next to some bands who i really admire and think are way awesome. The EP has been released by a longtime buddy, Dan Parrott, who i owe an awful lot to now. Off the back of this, i've got my first airplay, sessions and press. Its been a great project to be involved in.

Anyhow, i'm gonna stop rambling and get to the ulterior motive i have here. The EP was released on Monday. You can get the very pretty 10 inch vinyl from picadilly records here:

Or, if you have too much stuff, download it digitally from 7 digital here and save the shelf space, whilst only slightly reducing your hard disk space:

Also, on a slightly unrelated, but still sorta related note, I did my first radio session since i broke with fear of music on Tuesday for XFM. It was a whole lot of fun and the guys at the station got a really good sound. It will air this coming Sunday from 10pm-12 as part of the razorcuts thing on all the XFM stations. Is that just London and Manchester or has they expanded their territory? In any case, its on all the stations. I just like repeating that because it makes me feel important.

More soon,