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Dead Leaves Rising
Dead Leaves Rising: Waking Up on the Wrong Side of No One Dead Leaves Rising - Waking Up on the Wrong Side of No One
MP3 Album 2001 | Silber 102
11 tracks, 62 minutes
$5 (320 kbps, ~136 megs)
The second release of dark folk from Jon DeRosa of Aarktica's Dead Leaves Rising recorded shortly after No Solace in Sleep.

: Listen to the track Fortress
: Press release
Track Listing:
My Face, Fortress, California, A Foundation Forms, The Glass is Half Empty, Cold Dark Water, The Boy Who Ruined the World, Each Day Is Like Winter, Stars, That Summer, The Melancholia of Everything

Funny how reviewing one 7? can lead you to discovering so many great bands and artists. That 7? in question was a release from the New York City-based chamber-pop band Flare, which led to hearing Flare singer LD Beghtol’s side project Moth Wranglers as well as Flare guitarist/vocalist Jon DeRosa’s experimental drone project Aarktica. Those Flare boys keep busy, as Dead Leaves Rising is another release by DeRosa, and it’s likely the most accessible for our average DOA readers, so listen up.
Two words are all I really need here: starkly gorgeous. DeRosa plays folk-influenced indie pop that owes as much to Leonard Cohen as Red House Painters but more aptly resembles the latter. DeRosa plays all the instruments on this release – except for cello on two songs – and what you get is quiet, contemplative folksy music that is stark in its crisp, pure acoustic guitar and soft drumming and gorgeous in DeRosa’s rich, emotive vocals. Each of the 11 songs here are long and involved, but they’re by no means repetitive, showing the difficult talent of turning acoustic folk-inspired songs into something that’s unique and relevant.
The opener, “My Face,” shows off a lovely texture, with DeRosa’s vocals sounding deep and velvety smooth over soft acoustic guitar and cello. Maybe my favorite song, “Fortress” shows off DeRosa’s ability to evoke strong emotions through his beautiful voice, and this one has bits of pop melody beneath the acoustic guitar lines. A bit lighter, “California” uses carefully picked banjo (or what sounds like it) and some keyboard atmosphere to create what feels like an early-morning road song. “I’ve got too much time on my hands,” DeRosa sings softly to pure guitar notes on “Cold, Dark Water.” “I will drive all night, just to see you sleep,” he sings, and I believe him. Piano makes a nice accompaniment on “A Foundation Forms,” and there’s a bit of a folk twang to “The Boy Who Ruined the World.” “Each Day is Like Winter” is a more flowing pop song, still quiet and focused entirely around the acoustic guitar, but lovely and nicely moving, another gorgeous track. A bit more folky, “That Summer” is more light-hearted and leads nicely into the album’s last track, “The Melancholia of Everything Completed,” which is an absolutely lovely instrumental with gorgeous piano and moody guitar.
What astounds me about Jon DeRosa is how mature and tight his music is for a 22-year-old musician. He’s released several albums with the three projects that I know about, including an upcoming new Aarktica album and a previous Dead Leaves Rising full-length. This is certainly my favorite of his solo work, however. His voice is perfect for the pristine guitar and soft melodies, filling these long, moving songs with a deep melancholy and beauty that is very unique. 
~ Jeff Marsh, Delusions of Adequacy

The Dead Leaves Rising is the (mostly solo) project of Jon DeRosa, a 22 year-old New Yorker who also claims membership in Flare, the "chamber pop" group led by L.D. Beghtol (who has also gained recognition as a sometime-member of the Magnetic Fields). DeRosa, it seems, is one bummed-out dude. A cursory look at some of the song titles is all you need to glean the general mood of Waking Up...: "The Glass if Half Empty", "The Boy Who Ruined the World", "Each Day Is Like Winter", just to name a few . These moribund titles, coupled with some of the rather ridiculous statements on disc's accompanying press release ("painfully honest post-pop acoustic ballads that will make you mourn the misspent youth you never really had" - give me a fucking break!) made me rather hesitant to slip this disc into my player at all, much less expect that I would actually enjoy its contents. As the aforementioned titles and descriptions suggest, there is a certain amount of heart-on-sleeve, excerpt-from-a-diary pretentious fawning going on here -- but to my surprise, most of the disc is actually quite enjoyable.
DeRosa has a very moving, somber baritone voice that is capable of some great quiet intensity (when he's not using it to affect a supremely annoying faux-British accent, which makes him sound like a coffeeshop version of Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan -- though thankfully, this tendency only crops up in a few songs). As a whole, Dead Leaves Rising's songs could easily be compared to Red House Painters or Nick Drake. The seven-minute-plus "California", in particular, with its subtle washes of guitar feedback, sounds as if it could be an outtake from RHP's masterful Ocean Beach. DeRosa shares Mark Kozelek's penchant for completely unironic lyrics that can look kind of silly on the page, but (usually) work in the context of the song. For the most part, his lyrics are confessional without descending into parody. However, on a few tracks, his moroseness gets the best of him -- on "Each Day Is Like Winter", for instance, he sings "I'm feeling so cold, each day is like winter/I walk through the city clutching my heart/some of them laugh and some of them stare/but most of them just walk away." Thankfully, such theatrics are the exception rather than the rule.
All told, De Rosa's soothing, melancholy compositions will provide an excellent soundtrack to your next rainy-day navel-gazing session. A misspent youth is, as previously established, optional.
~ Jeremy Schneyer, Splendid

An album that makes The Red House Painters sound like members of the local glee club, the second release by John DeRosa under the moniker Dead Leaves Rising explores the turmoil and sordid emotions of relationships that have gone sour. A soundtrack to dysfunction and a perfect companion piece for those long evenings spent in a chair facing a blank wall, the songs on this disc lend themselves to depressive stupor and spent rage. The slow acoustic strumming and emotional delivery create an uncomfortable ambience that is the aural equivalent of the cold chill at the back of the spine when you realize that you are completely and totally alone.
~ Terry Eagan, Ink 19

There seems to be a lot of emotion going on throughout this entire album. Jon DeRosa pours his heart out on all eleven tracks of his second release Waking Up on the Wrong Side of No One. Jon is a 22-year-old folk singer/songwriter from New York City who is also in a band called Aarktica, and this is his "solo project" that many have compared to Johnny Cash, Red House Painters, and Will Oldham. I will agree with the comparisons for the most part. There are numerous amounts of instruments contained throughout this album, most of which are played by Jon himself, except for a couple played by a few select guests. I will mention that the artwork for the album seems very appropriate for the songs contained on this release. A melancholy sort of feel to it and is very well represented on the songs performed. The cover picture is of a shirtless man and it has a background image of autumn leaves around the entire album. Autumn = Dead Leaves, I'm assuming that that is what he was going for.
With the massive amounts of bands that have lead singers that have put out solo albums in the past year all of it will basically come out and not be noticed by the masses. Unless you are some big shot that was in some big shot band and have a big shot record label pushing it on everyone and their mother. I have basically given up on the whole new solo musician thing unless there is something that is so completely incredible and different about the person, an outstanding voice, original style, something. Hence, Bright Eyes. But this I'm afraid just doesn't really do that much for me. Maybe it is the timing of me listening to it or maybe it is the fact that I don't like every singer/ songwriter that I hear, just a select few that stand out in the whole genre. Or maybe it is the fact that I'm not depressed about something at the moment and I don't want to listen to something so slow that could actually make me find something to be depressed and down about.
~ Andy Vaughn, Lost at Sea