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