First Track from Artificial Heart

July 28th, 2011

We are inching closer to the point when you will all be able to actually HEAR this new record I’ve been talking about forever. In fact, here is a track for you to listen to right now. It’s called “Nemeses” and the lead vocal is sung by none other than JoCo Cruise Crazy favorite (he is also famous for other things) John Roderick.

I hope you like it, because it’s good, and so if you don’t like it then that means you have terrible taste.

83 responses to “First Track from Artificial Heart”

  1. JoCo says:

    For the record (ha ha), there are two other tracks on the album with guest lead vocalists, but there are 18 songs and the rest of them are sung by me. All the songs including this one were written by me.

    I confess, it was even a little jarring for ME to hear John’s vocal on this song when I first heard it, but I’ve really come to love it – in fact, that line “well played” always sounded to me like it was lifted from a Long Winters song, which is one of the reasons I thought John would sound great on this.

    Part of what I tried to do in the writing and recording process for this record was to try new things, to open up and allow collaborative elements to creep into my heretofore super private creative space. They’re all my songs, but they’ve been influenced on many levels by the other people who helped me turn them into a recording: Flansburgh, the musicians, the engineer, the guest vocalists. I’ve always found that letting go of complete control over the things I make can be the most exciting part of making something – creative commons has always led to that sort of thing after the fact, but I found it really inspiring and thrilling to start letting go earlier in the process. Which is not to say this record isn’t mine, in fact, to me it feels more honest and truly mine than anything I’ve done in a while.

    Anyway, some of it is definitely going to subvert your expectations, but I encourage you to listen with an open mind.

    It’s going to be OK!

  2. Brenton says:

    I’ve always liked your music cause you were unique. The band and guest singer make your music sound exactly like everyone else’s music.

    If your music goes this way I don’t think I will hear much more ukulele or maracas or just that folky sound which is what I love so so much

  3. Roderick says:

    I have to admit that it was even jarring for ME to hear MY OWN voice on this track, and especially to sing it in the studio with JoCo and Flansburgh staring at me through the glass and shouting comments after every take. I like to get it in a single take, and they both had strong opinions about what they wanted me to do. The choice to have guest singers on his full-band album is bold, but it’s what I’ve learned to expect from Jonathan. He’s not doing what people expect, not following the conventional wisdom or interested in repeating himself, and he’s not trying to be famous.

    Every musician faces these same sorts of comments from their fans when they try something new: “It doesn’t sound like you” “It’s not what I expected” “Bring back the old sound” etc. I don’t take it personally that people are surprised or dismayed to hear my voice. Give it time, even my own mother didn’t like it at first. What’s exciting for me about this album is that JoCo is experimenting with lots of other musicians, with arrangements and production, and he’s using the whole panopoly of studio trickery to great effect. He’s a brilliant musician.

    Jonathan’s made the “Dylan going electric” analogy many times about this album, but he’s really at the start of his music-making career and I can’t imagine he won’t try to explore every avenue this art form offers. He’s lucky to have fans that appreciate his ingenuity. Studio albums and live performances are two completely different forms of expression and it’s normal to prefer one to the other. I’m just proud to have been asked to contribute to an album by one of my favorite artists, proud to have him choose that song as the first single, and flattered by the reception I’ve had from JoCo’s community of fans. After fifteen years in the trenches of the music business it’s been an eye-opener to work with someone so talented, generous and unpretentious.

  4. Linty says:

    Thanks to JoCo and John for their responses.

    They are right, while at first I was “what no Jonathan on lead vocals it the first track?!”. However, I quickly grew to love it, not only because it is by Jonathan, but because in my opinion it is a good song. I find that I have listened to Nemeses everyday since it was released and have suddenly released that I am humming it to myself in the street. I also have to admit that I didn’t listen to The Long Winters before but John’s voice is great.

    Like John says, (and I’m sure we all agree) JoCo is a “talented, generous, unpretentious and brilliant musician”, (he forgot clever, witty…etc.).

    This being his first ‘proper’ album, I am glad that the music continues to change with fresh input from equally talented people. I think most of us become too comfortable with old familiar things in life and are afraid grow. If we don’t grow we die. That’s a downer, sorry. What I meant was, to find something better, we have to go through things which at first we thought we didn’t like. Now, I don’t care if this is weird, I am going to quote an older but still beautiful song:

    ‘I was fine, I pulled myself together, Just in time, To throw myself away…Bumps in the road remind us, The worst of the best behind us, Only good things will find us, Me and you…’

    Before I start sounding like a total suck up of a fan, I will finish by saying, I really look forward to hearing the new album with all the tracks however they may be.

    Get a move releasing it, already, Mr Perfectionist.

    From, Impatient

  5. Marshall says:

    Thanks for weighing in, John and Jonathan. Glad to see you’re both taking it in stride.

    I also hadn’t checked out The Long Winters before listening to that single; John’s name had come up a couple times and I meant to go have a listen, but kept forgetting about it. Now that I have, The Long Winters are definitely on my radar.

    And I also request and expedient release of the album. We Canadians are often viewed as overly polite, but if I don’t see something soon I’m going to start dropping some mad F-bombs up in here.

  6. smcnally says:

    apologies for all the newbies – I’m another
    it’s hard to fathom how this track won’t be a hit
    it’s a tremendous feat of writing
    I look forward to catching up on your catalog
    (and, again, sorry if that all pisses off your fans)

  7. Pudabudigada says:

    I like it, John delivers it very differently from Jonathan, naturally, but while I like the slight ‘whinyness’ (that’s a word now!) of Jonathan’s version (as I think it fits the theme of the song well), the vibrato and signature ‘breathyness’ delivery in the vocals of John’s is good too.
    It sounds perhaps more heartbroken, as it were, as opposed to Johnathan’s ‘notiiiiccce meeee! C’mon!’ version. I wouldn’t really pick one over the other.

    Like that bass riff too!

  8. Sara says:

    At first I thought it an odd choice to lead with a song lacking JoCo vocals, but now I recognize it as a clever ploy to get all of the “everything is different!” hysteria out of the way early. Well played!

    I am impatiently awaiting the other seventeen tracks.

  9. Angelastic says:

    Ha! It’s good to know I wasn’t imagining the Long Winteriness of the ‘well played’ line. Do you also think it sounds like ‘scared straight’? (though less so the way Roderick sings it)

    So, when is JoCo going to sing on a Long Winters album?

    Could it be that you need Roderick/Flansburgh/the citizens of Fansburg to keep you out, to run you faster? I think Sara might be onto something. Well played indeed.

  10. Jason says:

    Really interested in finding out what the 3 remaining unknown songs are. The Wiki has 15, and of those I’ve only not heard “Je Suis Rick Springfield” yet.

    Also, for the folks upset that the first song they hear for the new album is with a different lead vocalist than JoCo, I think it’s an excellent move. We know what to expect from the usual JoCo sound, so pulling us out of our comfort zone from the get go let’s us better appreciate the lyrical and musical quality of “Nemeses”, as well as having us look even more forward to those songs JoCo does sing.

    Meanwhile, go check out more of Roderick and the Long Winter’s work! They’re great!

  11. I love this song. Not only because it’s a great, well written song, but because I am also a big The Long Winters fan. Hearing John sing lead on a Joco melody is a marriage that is surprisingly fulfilling. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album. Not unlike chocolate, Jonathan, you continue to inspire and satisfy. Thanks for not sucking. Mean it.

  12. Joe says:

    I cant physically wait for this album, i need good morning tuscon!!!

  13. Pudabudigada says:

    I think I’ve worked it out, Roderick’s vocals; it’s as if you’d had a piece of velvet sing on the track!
    (Umm, that *was* a compliment by the way!)

  14. Sam says:

    I’ve been listening to Nemeses multiple times a day since it was released, and for me hearing John’s voice was a pleasant surprise since I’m also a big Long Winters fan. The “Well played” line really does seem very typical to the Long Winters to me, but the song itself is very Jonathan Coulton. As far as I’m concerned it’s a brilliant combination.
    Also, I’ve heard an earlier version of the song (on YouTube of course) and think the lyrics are far better in the album version, it’s a bit more subtle and that makes it a lot more sad, funny and interesting to me.
    Can’t wait to hear the new album in full!

  15. Sam says:

    Great song, feels both different and original. Can’t wait to listen to the rest of the album.

    Keep up the great writing, and tour Australia some day!

  16. Kevin says:

    I, too, have been playing this song a lot since I got the email from the mailing list about its availability. I love it. I like to echo previous comments, it combines the best of two worlds. All the clever songwriting and sweet harmonies of JoCo with the phrasings and uniqueness of JR. MORE COLLABORATIONS!!! Neither’s voice is “better” than the other’s, just different. I am happy they got their chocolate into my peanut butter, so to speak.

    For those commenters who don’t “get why Roderick’s on the tune” or are just unfamiliar with him: go to YouTube and search for “John Roderick Commander Thinks Aloud JoCo” and watch this performance. The recordings don’t really adequately convey the absolute power of John’s voice but you can get an idea of how much he held us in the palm of his hand with that song. And to think we almost didn’t get to hear it. Then watch “Honest” and you’ll see what a great songwriter he is, too.

  17. Patrick says:

    I think the singer/songwriter model is a fun one to experience from a fan’s perspective precisely because it allows for this type of thing.

  18. Lawrence says:

    yeah AUSTRALIA!

    wait what..*murmer* oh new song… well sure it’s great but i had to listen to it on the computer like the others… Hm? oh it’s still on one sec *click*

  19. Jason says:

    Sorry again…
    New Video! Fully animated! Mr. Fancy Pants! Check it out!

  20. Craig says:

    I’ve made a video for “Nemeses.”

    Here’s another one (not by me).

  21. Kieran says:

    I love the song itself, but it IS kind of weird to hear it sung by someone besides JoCo.
    I also don’t hear the certain sadness in the “and you don’t even know my name” that I hear on the live recording I have.
    Hmm. Wish it could be JoCo singing it, but I’ll take all I can get.

  22. TheGuyToo says:

    I love it, personally. I think the lyrics are my favorite style good ol’ JoCo does: a sort of depressing/emotional yet funny because the PoV comes from someone who isn’t fully willing to acknowledge the meaning behind what they’re saying. And I’ve never listened to The Long Winters before but I think the vocals are really well done as well. It may have been jarring at first but after getting used to them I found Mr. Roderick’s voice to fit in quite well. That’d be my two cents.

  23. Dyrilby says:

    Broken link… :/

  24. Neilios says:

    Completely dig this song. Guest vocals really working well. Gordon Gano did a similar thing with his first solo record, the majority of it being sung by other vocalists. Desperately looking forward to this album.

  25. Scott says:

    Great song. Can’t wait for the new album!

  26. Charles says:

    I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had never heard John before. But I really enjoy the end result. The lyrics are top notch and I love the harmony that you two were able to achieve. This is my new favorite JoCo song (Of the moment). I am looking forward to hearing the rest of the album!

  27. Forrest says:

    i loved this track. i also enjoy playing covers of your songs in my shows. i abuse creative commons alot more now than i did(great idea) and love. best of luck on the album!

  28. Craig says:

    There are already two fan-made videos made for “Nemeses” in the JoCo forums under the obvious title “fan-made music videos for Nemeses.” If anybody knows of any others, please by all means post them there.

  29. Craig says:

    They might be easier to find if you go to the ” JoCo Projects” section in the forums.

  30. Annette says:

    Okay, so that means that if we listen to the song and we don’t think it’s great,
    ALL THE OTHER ARTISTS THAT WE DO ENJOY aren’t worth listening to.
    Because we have such terrible taste in music, right?

    I’ll give it a listen and see what I think. Depending on how it sounds to ME, I’ll be sure to let the artists I do enjoy know what YOU think about THEM.

  31. Annette says:


    RE the mini cruise:

    1. I’m not surprised.

    2. You owe me.

  32. AnnetteAgain says:

    Do you know who I am really into right now? Ben Folds.
    I can’t wait to let Ben know what Jonathan thinks about HIM.

    Ben has a page on Facebook. I could post that on his wall right now.
    But first, to listen to the song…..

  33. Thief says:

    “A small black heart that no one sees but me…”

    Sometimes you want to fall on your knees and give thanks for life. This is one of those times.