Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra - "Lule Lule" (Music Video)


Dear Balkan/Central European Folkloric Musical Renaissance,

At first I thought: I'm fine with having just Beirut and Hawk and a Hacksaw in my life. Just fine. But now I realize that I was wrong. Here in Barcelona (where I'm staying for a couple months. Come out, say hi), I came upon a flyer for the subject of this letter, BGKO (a reformed version, so it seems of, Barcelona Gipsy Klezmer Orchestra). I had expected the show to be a small affair, but when the line stretched literally around the block, I realized that I discounted the popularity of the group. In the Marsula Cafe, the group performed in the round. The audience was a veritable United Nations -- in ethnicity, nationality, and age -- and the band matched. Consisting of musicians from all over Europe, BGKO's sound was equally diverse swinging from klezmer to Italian folk music and everywhere in between. The musicianship was incredible, even while breaking in a new clarinet player, and it isn't a reach to call the singer, Sandra Sangiao, mesmerizing.  The group has 2 records with a third due out soon. But, perhaps the best way to get into the music is through watching the group live. So, I'm attaching a vid that I think you'll like. The tune is "Lule lule," an Italian folksong (and if it's not, blame my poor Spanish for hearing that), which, in concert becomes a riotous audience participation number. It's hard to interact with YouTube, but I think you'll get the drift until you can see them live.

xo,
HankWLFY




Real Live Tigers - "Denatured" [Music Video]


Dear House Show Goers,

Odds are you've seen or heard of Real Live Tigers. I know I've been passing through more than one town and happened to have my travels coincide with the band. Hell, I've even let 'em crash on my couch and floor more than once. Hospitality isn't completely dead not matter what the pundits tell you. 

So, today we serve "Denatured," a track from Real Live Tigers' forthcoming LP of the same name, mastered by Paul Gold (Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Jason Molina), the album is available on limited edition smokey-gray transparent vinyl from Keeled Scales.

You'll no doubt recognize certain trademarks of Real Live Tigers right off the bat from this: a pensive, melancholic tone, the desire for change, how emotional turmoil and urban decay seem to slip by each other with a knowing wink. Yeah, all those things that makes Real Live Tigers great are in this track. 

Enjoy, and I'm pretty sure that Tony'll be coming to a house near you pretty soon.

xo,
WLFY


Dear Reader,



Dear Reader,
About nine years ago I was much younger than I am now...nine years younger to be exact.  I expect older folks to scoff at nine years and the kids to think, "man, nine years, that's a lot!". That's how time moves...slow with the young and fast with the old.  Anyway, nine years ago, I was young and disappointed in the one world I cared about, writing for the movies...trying to write for the movies...writing for other people...just trying to write.  After a screenplay meeting with the most bullshit of notes, I came home and started this music blog called We Listen For You.  I called my closest friend Hank and we decided to have a communication, a sharing of music, just the two of us...if people read then cool.  In the years to follow we became read by a few and accepted by my personal music blog heros (that was an actual thing back then) like Aquarium Drunkard, I Guess I'm Floating,  My Old Kentucky Blog, and even blocked on twitter by most members of Pitchfork who introduced me to more great music 1999-on than anybody.  I was passionate and fueled by trying to help anybody and everybody who wrote music that changed my life.  Hank and I fought for the unknown great because that was what this was all about...and the times where we couldn't help (which was often) came with a burden.

Now it's 2016 and sadly it feels like on any level of music writing...nobody gives a shit.  Bare with the constant ....'s because this is off the cuff and will never be edited.  We needed Pitchfork back in the day because nobody was standing up for the non-mainstream.  It was important and a need in a bunch of people was formed.  A need to discover and share. Which brings us to today.  Anybody with a streaming service and a social media platform can "discover and share"...so music blogs are dead, right?  No.  I named this blog We Listen For You not because we're cocky jerks who think we know more about music than you...rather the fact that there IS SO MUCH MUSIC to listen to and digest, that we would be the source to listen to EVERY submission and report back to you the reader on our findings. That's all gone with the fact that anybody can surf 120+ years worth of music with a few clicks around Spotify.  I used to burn clickbait large music websites at the cross for pandering, but after years of confusion it's clear..these large sites either had to play the game or become irrelevant.  Pitchfork, Stereogum, Consequence Of Sound, etc had to adapt and do "clickbait" not because they're soulless assholes, no, the readers demanded the popular clickbait content and they obliged to survive...thus is life.

Enough about other websites, what about this nothing music blog We Listen For You.  For now on, all of our posts will be in letter format.  If we write about a band, it will be addressed to said band.  If we write a "thinkpiece" (oh, how that's become a terrible word) it will be directed at those we want to talk to.  In the letter format we will be able to 1.) write when we want to write (regardless of the track/album/concept is "new") 2.) Allows us to be sloppy and unprofessional as we have been for nine years...spelling mistakes shouldn't bother you when the writer is honest (we're still on blogspot..come on) 3.) The ability to highlight a band with 10 followers on Facebook.  If nobody is reading and we're not making money, who cares if a post gets no hits...we don't. 4.)  We get to stay true to the entire point of this music blog...share music that we care about.

Which brings us to what Hank and myself expect from you.  If you're reading this then you know about us, which is rare.  We want to be open, free formed, and share good music with you.  What we want from you is to simply check in to this site every once in a while and enjoy.  That is all.  Great music and the experience of sharing sounds that move you isn't that complicated...so let's not make it so.  For nine years we've been ourselves and through this new letter system we're going to get more personal...talk to band rather than talk down to them...and just enjoy an art form that is supposed to be loved rather than expounded upon to make the creator less than the critic.  The world of music journalism will always be in a state of flux...with our new letter system we feel that our site will be a timeless and honestly imperfect space where two people can reach out...talk about what music they love...and nothing more.

Track of the Day: Karl Blau - "How I Got to Memphis"


Here's a blast from the past. Some years ago, when I made the acquaintance of Real Live Tigers, crashing on the floor of a house in Arkansas, Tony presented me with "Lightning Bolts on Me Wanger," a mix of total jewels from the indie indie scene and with a title taken from the Flight of the Conchords brilliant tribute episode to David Bowie. One of the tracks was Karl Blau's "How I Got to Memphis," a cover of Kentucky's Tom T. Hall. (Remind me to tell you about his other tunes like "I Like Beer" or how the highway out of Morehead, Kentucky is named after Hall.) Blau's voice hints at the Western part of Country/Western while having what seems to be an ironic aching tone. This track is a total ear worm, and the chorus, I guarantee will pop up for you again sometime, just as it reemerged for me today, Good Friday, when the track seems to be reissued and found its way onto Spotify in anticipation of Blau's cover record out in May via Bella Union. Enjoy!

Where Have all the Producers Gone?


I think it was sometime in college when a friend handed me a copy of Pavement's Terror Twilight -- "have you heard this?," he asked. "It was produced by Nigel Godrich." Godrich, of course, had made his name as the man behind Radiohead's dials. Since then, he's worked with pop stars like Natalie Imbruglia, put out albums with Beck, scored Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and been fired by The Strokes. Godrich has that sainted quality that only a handful of indie rock producers have -- think Steve Albini, Brian Eno, or Dave Friedman -- they've got name recognition to the point where they not only have their own sound, but opportunities to work with just about any act they want, or in the case of Albini, anyone that can put up with them.

With the passing, last week, of The Beatles long time producer and collaborator George Martin, I couldn't help but think back of when I looked for what records based on producers as well as artists. And, I couldn't help but wonder, besides the handful of names that I could come up with (add Jim O'Rourke & Don Zimmer to that list as well), where have all the producers gone?

There's always been an inborn tension between indie and producers. The DIY roots of much of the music having to do with a lot of it. Bands want to control their own sound. And outside of a few groups (see Fugazi and Zimmer or Radiohead and the aforementioned Godrich) who have found a genuine collaborator in their producer, we hear more when people are pulled off projects in legendary spats like Albini vs. Nirvana on In Utero

Recently, figures like Guy Picciotto (from Fugazi), O'Rourke (former collab of Wilco, Sonic Youth, and others), John Vanderslice (solo artist), have made forays from being mostly musicians into producing. While producers have made their way into films. The diversification of how you can make a living means pulling attention off certain areas -- recording in studios with bands -- toward more lucrative ventures. Not only that, but the advent of streaming services, whose sound quality is less than most physical outputs, the knob turning has been rendered less important in our earbuds and even with the supposedly better quality of Beats.

As Martin's passing showed, it's perhaps only the extraordinary producers who seem able to coexist and get the best out of their groups. And, indeed, it's rarer to find one that helps determine the artistic progress of a group. In Martin's case, he didn't just help create a musical group, but a zeitgeist. It's hard to see, in our present time, many others being able to follow in such giant footsteps. Yet, we shouldn't discount or dismiss producers. Obviously, their role in hip-hop and pop is unquestionable and undergoing a major renaissance these days, but for indie rock, too, producers can be the center of attention. Perhaps this is a good time to not only remember but think about who can help create the next zeitgeist.

[WWTAWWTAM]: Amanda Petrusich on Music Criticism & the Age of the Insta-Release



With the insta-drop of Kanye, Rihanna, & Kendrick Lamar, in the past few weeks, everyone has jumped to the genius button and clicked, clicked, clicked. Recency biases aside -- it's hard not to think of a comparison between music & sports here, just because something just happened doesn't mean that it's the greatest ever -- Amanda Petrusich, writing in The New Yorker, wonders about what these insta-releases have done to music criticism:
No one wants to be a doddering relic, squawking about the glory of olden times, when we churned fresh butter and listened to new records for a couple of weeks before bestowing numerical scores upon them. But, for me, the idea that the culture is now not merely accepting but, in fact, demanding instantaneous critical evaluations of major works of art feels plainly insane. 
In fact, there's a sense in which the whole industry has gone insane. As if Kanye, Rihanna, & Lamar's releases are knee-jerk FUs to the traditional releasing system made out of ego (in the case of Kanye) or impulse. Both those things, are what most critics are against in making their judgments. Which, Petrusich rightly points out. Indeed, it's hard not to think of these tweetable records -- hitting social media to a flurry of tweets and retweets -- as eschewing something fundamental about the nature of art, that is it's permanence. As Petrusich wonders:
Who hasn’t lived with a record for weeks, only to wake up one morning and find that it has suddenly unlocked a whole new suite of rooms deep in one’s subconscious?
That deeper connection, where music creates spaces in your mind, doesn't just pop up one day when a message flashes across the screen. It's an experience that takes time and attention. Two things that we should be focusing more on as critics and listeners.

Read Amanda Petrusich's article at The New Yorker here.