Hidden Gem: Listener

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“So I’ve built a wooden heart inside inside this iron ship to sail these blood red seas and find your coast,
don’t let these waves wash away your hopes. This warship is sinking and I still believe in anchors.”

– Dan Smith (aka Listener)

There’s been a lot of untalented crap throughout history in the music industry.

I don’t mean just the obvious, well-known examples like Friday or anything Insane Clown Posse, I mean even within the top hits. Especially when concerned with what we hear as the “popular choice” on the radio in our day to day lives. We’re constantly plagued with uninspired lyrics, remixes, reused beats, and even in some extremes stealing an entire idea all together.

Perhaps it’s for these reasons more and more people are switching to the indie scene, where the inspiration for ideas doesn’t originally come from a money-making standpoint, but rather something you want to tell the world. People are releasing more and more of their own work, and while the “quality” difference between professional and independent can vary between pieces, the overall success that’s been achieved over the past few years from these developers is phenomenal. And it all pays off, just look at the hugely successful Minecraft, Meat Boy, The Blair Witch Project, Clerks, and countless others.

While there are still hundreds of terrible artists signed daily, there are those few spelunkers who dare descend the catacombs of the audio world. Those who neatly sort through the haystack straw by straw. We prick our fingers to the tunes of others, hoping to find a hidden band that nobody has heard of.

I have done my fair share of sorting, and one of my close friends introduced me to this little gem.

     Yes that beautiful man, and the writer of the opening quote, is Dan Smith. While not being a completely unknown artist, the guy doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the quality of work that he puts out. You’ll never see Listener playing on Saturday Night Live or  being recognized on the street, but what you can see in his music is true art.

     My first five or six times listening to Listener (ha, listening to Listener), I honestly had no idea what I was hearing. It sounded like a tone-deaf amateur yelling on top of guitar. But I gave it some time, and it grew on me, and I realized the reason I didn’t understand it at first wasn’t because it was bad, it was because it was different then what I’m used to. It doesn’t have poppy choruses or bass drops, no bootylicious women or million dollar music videos. It was, plain and simple: poetry. Dan Smith is not a musician, he’s a poet.

Listener will put you into a weird trance, not really understanding, but recognizing with the lyrics. He’ll give you an overall vibe of the olden days, childhood – innocence, and how far we’ve all changed since our youth.


You can listen to more of Listener here:
Listener on YouTube

And of course, you can learn more about the band on their website:
Listener Website

         – Back to Hidden Gems


Published by

Sean McGehee

CEO of the Department of Imagination.

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