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