Normally this space is reserved for reviews of bands that are still paying their dues and climbing up the respect ladder to get that oh-so-sweet spot as the headliner. But rules should be overlooked in the face of awesome, even if I did make up the rule.
Like for Listener.
Listener is a band for fans of poetry. You don’t have to be hardcore poetry fans. Even if you’ve only read one Hallmark card that didn’t make you bang your head against a wall and wonder how greeting card writers find work. If you appreciate the power of words, you’ll like Listener.
When they took the stage at The Raven in Worcester Tuesday night on their An Merican Adventour! Tour, the band displayed why their sound is so undefinable. Their music has been called “talk rock”, but even that term does them little justice. The Arkansas-based group combines the best elements of raucous rock and melodic punk with vocals that are devoted to the lyrics. Vocalist, lyricist, bassist, and occasional hornist Dan Smith doesn’t necessarily sing the words, doesn’t necessarily scream them, or recite them like it’s a slam poetry competition. He lets the words come as he wrote them, with palatable angst, passion, and intelligence.
The band’s composer and guitarist Chris Nelson expertly provides music that gives Smith’s words the room to captivate devoted fans and new disciples. And if you doubt how well they complement each other’s style, you should see their stage presence. You are not bored when you see Listener. The intelligence and seriousness that really defines their sounds is matched by their spark-quick wit and ridiculousness in-between songs.
Smith started out in hip-hop, but Listener was born when the words required a group that moved beyond genre and definition, a band that used everything at its disposal. Their stage show is very much the same. If you hear that Listener is playing a small bar thirty minutes away or a basement show in your town, go see for yourself.