First Track from Artificial Heart

By JoCo July 28, 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.

Comments

Kris Ratcliffe says

Neat.

Trevor says

Any alternate sources? The "player below" doesn't appear on my Android phone browser...

SSteve says

Hey, I guess I don't have terrible taste! A guest lead vocal? That's certainly one from your producer's playbook.

I just got tickets for the Arcata show! San Francisco is closer, but I'm old and need a venue where I can sit down.

Jason says

In the same "my phone won't play it" boat, so I'll have to wait until after work... Remember to give Jonathan $20, water, and the cost of the super fan album bundle at PAX if you're going.

Matt Blick says

Not what you want to hear right now, but I think I prefer to hear you on lead vocals

Adam Haile says

Love your work JoCo and this song is great (heard you sing it in Asheville)... but that's what I really miss with this track... YOU signing it. Gotta ask, whats with other people singing tracks on *your* album?

Jason Roop says

Yup, finally heard it. No gripes from me except that John sometimes lacked emphasis on certain lyrics I had gotten used to you emphasizing in concert. Other than that, it's nice to see you expand your horizons. Can't wait to hear your other collaborative songs on the new album. Take my money already!

Linty says

Thank you, this track eleviates some of the "I need a new JoCo album now" pangs I have been getting since you came to UK last month. I love it, it still says you, but newer you.

John's vocals sound great and I enjoy the harmonies. You two have collaborated well together.

However I am with Jason Roop on one point the way you emphasize lyrics and you crisp over pronounciation on certain words is the reason I for one miss you on lead vocals.

Sleepy now, it's 12.30am here and I have to be up for work in 5 hours 26mins. Anyway just one more listen. 5 hours 24 mins, 23. Ok now sing me to sleep, a 1.2.3.4 and It's an amazing smile...

rozwarren says

So this is your "Dirty Work" and Roderick is your David Palmer? Works for me. As long as it's just one song and not the whole album.

Robert McTavish says

I really like the lyric and the instrumental, but... buuuut... I know I am a terrible person for saying this, but I guess I was hoping to hear more actual JoCo singing and less of this other guy. He's not bad, but the JoCo ear magic isn't happening.

Craig says

You let this man sing your songs and, apparently, dress like you (only better) and wear your beard. This is how "Single White Female" and "Picture of Dorian Gray" happened! (I think.)

Just kidding, Jonathan. I liked the song. :)

Marshall says

Really great stuff. Yes, it's got a different feel to it with J.R. singing, but you know what? That's what a studio album is good for: providing an alternate take than the live shows and dozens of Youtube videos. City and Colour (i.e. Dallas Green) often performs his songs live very differently than what shows up on the album, and I think it's neat to hear both.

Paul says

I really like it! But I'm with the others regarding the guest singer. Don't get me wrong it sounds great but I had to strain to hear you. John is a great singer but not as distinctive as Joco! I love it anyway, certainly if it's just 1 or 2 songs with a guest singer, it brings something different.

Bo says

Really good song. I like the addition of John and the sound of the full band. It gives a new depth, soundwise, to your music. Can't wait for the rest of the album.

Nick says

I love ya JoCo, and I'm sure this song will grow on me when I listen to it enough, but I'm in the same boat as others. Left slightly disappointed with the vocals. Absolutely no offence to J.R., but why not have HIM on back up and YOU on lead?

Oh well, I'm sure we'll all get over it. Can't wait to head more :)

Wilson says

Anyone able to catch the lyric in the bridge?

It sounds to me like

Oh yes, my old friend, you are a master of this game.
The hidden play that you pretend that you don't even know my name.
Well played.

But I'm not sure about the beginning of that second line. Is that right? If not, can someone correct me, please?

Bry says

@Wilson: The lyrics from JC's live performances are on the wiki -
http://jococom.wpengine.com/wiki/Nemeses/Lyrics
There's a slight alteration in the first verse ("Everything flash and guile" versus "All of that flash and guile) but I think the bridge is the same.

ted says

Implying I haven't already watched the live youtube videos a million times.

Wilson says

Thanks, Bry!

Rack says

THis one could just be me but I'm finding the vocals rather muted next to the guitar. Is this a preproduction thing and the levels are being worked on or a conscious decision? As it stands I can't actually hear what's being sung.

Lin says

Ok so JoCo, the TMBG Johns and now John R. This many talented Jo(h)ns working together must disrupt the laws of music or space time or something.

Is Paul and Storm's secret middle name John.

Jon, John, John, John, Paul John (JohnPaulGeorgeRingo) Sabourin, Greg "Storm Jon " DiCostanzo.

I need to use The John now, Good night Jo(h)n-boy.

Lin says

Wait wait wait I forgot the Hodgman, too many Jo(h)ns cause an overload. Any more genius forgotten Jo(h)ns out there to add to my Jon happy moment?

Craig says

John Stewart who's TV show's theme song, the Daily Show, was written by the TMBG Johns. Also John Hodgman shows up on the show from time to time.

This is turning into six degrees of separation of Johns.

Craig says

I meant, of course, *Jon* Stewart.

(Oh spell check, what are you good for.)

Craig says

Lin, I know you mentioned Hodgman, I was just showing how the various Jo(h)ns were connected. It's early, and I need coffee.

Angelastic says

I'd listened to a few recordings of you doing this song live, and I was always reminded of John Roderick when you sang the line 'well played'. I'm not sure whether you sound particularly like him when you sing it, or whether there's a line in one of his songs that sounds the same. Anyway, the weird thing is he doesn't sing that line quite how I always imagined him singing it. He draws out the 'played' longer.

Ah! Got it. I think it's that 'well played' reminds me of the phrase 'scared straight' from the song of the same name. And you do sound like John Roderick when you sing that line. Maybe even more so than John Roderick does.

Anyway, it sounds good to me. Maybe it has a little less energy to it than the live versions though (mind you, so do the Long Winters albums compared with John Roderick live) It can be hard to get used to a new version of a song when you're used to the old one, especially when there's a new singer, but at least those of us who were on the cruise have already been primed to be receptive to this particular new singer. It didn't take me long to get used to, though I hadn't listened to the live version enough to notice what Jason did.

Nice glasses, Purple McSeriousFace. B-)

Mark Torromeo says

Your songwriting is obviously still top-notch and i have no doubt that this album will kick major ass.

But man, having some other dude sing this song is a total bummer. He sounds like he's probably a good singer, but he's not Joco. And this particular performance is spotty. It sounds like they punched him in a million times, instead of getting one good take. Either that or he's just having trouble finding a good moment to breathe.

And the harmony vocal is worse. Its not even close to matching what the lead vocal is doing. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. And i could be wrong, But I'm almost certain that's not even Joco singing the harmony either. If it was it would be rock solid, as usual.

I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings with this comment. As i said, i'm positive this album is going to be awesome. But my (hopefully) constructive input on this track is to give the vocals another take with our boy out front doing his thing. He does it best.

lj says

I purposely did not watch the live version as I want to hear the 'pristine' studio ones first. I really like new lyrics. Witty but not in your face funny they are less straight to the point. I hope most of the lyrics from the album follow in this kind of vein.

As for the the vocals while Jonathan's would be my first choice, the more I listen the better I think John's voice suits the song and the way the whole instrumental is arranged. For me there is kind of a hipster lovey feel about the track overall, that plays off really nicely against the nemeses/confrontation in the lyrics. The purple shirt glasses image gotta love it.

Look forward to the rest of the album. Peace love out.

Steve says

This is now one of my absolute favorite songs of yours.

Wow. I am blown away.

Love the lyrics, love the vocals, love the picture of you wearing purple tinted shades on PasteMagazine.com

Well done good sir.

One thing I didn't pick up on in the lyrics initially, is that this rivalry might not be as real as the speaker is making it out to be. He might just be a little loony. To which I say, 'nice work' for pulling off.

But you know, I think I prefer the idea that it IS mutual.

So that is how I shall listen to it.

Fantastic.

SRDownie says

Nemesis is a good song and Roderick does a good job. Goodness prevails!

I think it is really great that you're getting your friends involved and spreading the musical work around. This is not an industry known for generosity. Once again, you bust through that ol' mold!

Thanks!

Fata Morgana says

I love it.

Fata Morgana says

I REALLY love it. When can we buy this album already?

Also... I'm growing increasingly depressed that your tour schedule isn't bringing you to Texas. Sadness. :(

Linty says

I take back what I said about lead vocals, I really enjoy this song and John has really grown on me. Listened to it dozens of times, still like it, still feels new, like the direction of the new music.

Although will always be curious what a studio version with Jonathan would sound like.

So is the image officially named 'Purple and Serious'? Plus are those glasses prescription lenses/was he wearing contacts or did he have to endure an out-of-focus world during photo shoot?

Sorry, I don't comment on the forums, I would end up wasting all of my time in them.

Sara says

Love it and I can't wait to get the album!

Jason Roop says

Aw great, now John's gonna be on the cruise, so I'm gonna have to own up to my slight criticism live and in person. In other news, JOHN RODERICK's back on JCCC2!

RogueA says

Very much liked the song, liked it just as much when I heard it live. I'm with the others though, no disrespect to J.R. but I'd very much like a version with you on lead vocals.

Spiritgreen says

I liked the song right away but I've loved The Long Winters for years. I'd wager people just need a few listens to appreciate the charms of John's voice.

(New album is gonna be so good!)

Hamish Milne says

Superb song! I CANNOT WAIT FOR AH DAMMIT!

NJ Man says

I like the song, but who's the guy in the picture? The guy with the neat hair and the collared shirt?

Jason says

I love the new song, but I (like others) miss the JoCo vocals. I can't listen to it without thinking of the concert version, but I'm sure I'll get used to it and love it in time.

New Vid A Week (to those few interested in the project), and this one's a doozy. Code Monkey, shot on location at the office where I had my marketing internship a few years back. Ugh. But the shoot was fun, and I think the video turned out great! Check it out:

http://tinyurl.com/codmnky

dougbaker says

I was expecting JOCO on a JOCO song.

I am disappointed. Why would you introduce your new stuff with the first track that is not you.

It is like Burger King giving away McDonalds chicken nuggets as a promotion for visiting Burger King.

not the best marketing.

Paul R. Potts says

I hate to harsh on it, and I actually really like the vocal, but I don't like the way it is mastered. One of the things I like about most JoCo tracks is that he generally hasn't felt the need to engage in the whole loudness war thing. This track has a dynamic range of (it seems) about 2 dB. There doesn't seem to be anything to download so I can't look at it with a waveform editor, but the smashed volume levels definitely put the hurt on my ears. Especially when the cymbals kick in and there's nowhere for them to go.

Sharon says

Bravo!! Great song!! Looking forward to hearing it live when you come to Atlanta!

Mathew says

Comon no JoCo on the new JoCo song. feeling kinda bummed right now. Hope the whole album isnt like this. I love the song but I know this will be one I press skip on every time it comes on my ipod because it gets in the way of what I really came to listen to....You!

Mina says

Love it! I remember hearing this in Sommerville, and it's still so much fun! John Roderick's voice takes some getting used to all wrapped up in a JoCo flavoring, but it's nice. I can't wait for the album!

Ken says

Of the new batch that I heard during the Sommerville show this one was my favorite, which is why I am pretty disappointed that your not the one singing it. No offense meant to the guest, but it just doesn't have the same feel to it. I hope you will be including a version where you do the vocals, because I do really love this one.

holly says

really liking the lyrics. took my a bit to mentally adjust to the different vocalist and pay attention, mostly due to my own expectations rather than allowing it to be a brand-new experience like I should have ;). I'm excited for more.

Barry says

Heard this in Nashville in March, and like a lot of the others I prefer JoCo at the helm.

Here, my charming wife described it as sounding less elastic and more boxed-in than that to which we are accustomed. It's like someone decided that there was going to be a song in this format, and then took a JoCo song and squished it into that mold, rather than letting the song grow organically into what it could have been.

All of which means I'll still be buying the album -- no doubt.

Marshall says

Seems like there's a bit of disappointment going round, but all I know is there hasn't been one day in the last week where I haven't listened to this song at least once. I'm digging John's vocals, and I'm glad Jonathan didn't let any sort of ego stop him from sharing the spotlight (and I still get to enjoy JoCo's harmonies). Hopefully once the rest of the album is out and it's nestled in with the other tunes people will enjoy it as a cool collaboration and departure.

Barstool Prophet says

Not what I love about JoCo but hopefully the album will be listed like his other music so I can listen before I buy.

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!

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

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.

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

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.

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)

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!

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.

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.

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!

Jeff MacDougall says

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.

Joe says

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

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!)

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!

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!

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.

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.

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*

Jason says

Sorry again...
New Video! Fully animated! Mr. Fancy Pants! Check it out!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRrRx4UkK8Y&feature=player_embedded

Craig says

I've made a video for "Nemeses."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-OqYw75eVk

Here's another one (not by me).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAYPlqaZFoo

Kieran says

Hmm...
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.

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.

Dyrilby says

Broken link... :/

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.

Scott says

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

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!

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!

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.

Craig says

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

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.

Annette says

P.S:

RE the mini cruise:

1. I'm not surprised.

2. You owe me.

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.....

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.