Listen Up

Gunplay aside, listenlisten have made one of 2009's most anachronistic, arresting new albums.

Today, the members see it as a sort of rough draft of the sound they would eventually — and painstakingly — arrive at on Rhodesia, which began its long gestation even before the EP came out. Patrick admits the delay is mostly his doing.

"There's like two or three [songs] that have over 100 tracks," he says. "One has 120 to 130. I told the guy who mixed it before we had him do it, 'It's going to be awful,' and he was completely down for it then, but I think after a couple of months of dealing with it, he didn't say anything, but I'm sure he was kind of hating the process."

This explains why Rolling Stone's "Hype Monitor," a column on the magazine's Web site tracking under-the-radar music, referred to listenlisten as a "collective" when praising Rhodesia back in July as an "even spookier version of Will Oldham." The attention was nice, the band says now, but didn't exactly help get people out to shows on their recent two-week tour to Brooklyn, Chicago and back with good friend and sometime "collective" member Robert Ellis. Truthfully, to hear Godfrey explain it, listenlisten's songwriting process doesn't sound especially belabored or meticulous — collective-like, in other words — at all.

listenlisten listened to their mamas and left their guns at home.
Pam Cantú
listenlisten listened to their mamas and left their guns at home.

"I'm usually asking them to do something ­really weird and unexpected," he says. "Like, I just say, 'Do the weirdest thing you can think of.'"

We'll just assume that "weird and unexpected" does not generally extend to the use of firearms during band practice. But maybe it does. Whatever the band is doing seems to be working — just ask the guy who stumbled across them at one of the clubs where listenlisten honed its sound, the old Super Happy Fun Land in the Heights.

"A lot of metal guys like us," says Patrick.

"Because we're fucking dark," Graves chimes in.

"I guess that's what it is," Patrick continues. "One of our first bigger fans at Super Happy told us that first it was Metallica, and then it was listenlisten." CHRIS GRAY

listenlisten releases Hymns from Rhodesia with Peter & the Wolf, I Am Mesmer and Sew What, 8 p.m. Friday, September 18, at Mango's, 403 Westheimer, 713-522-8903 or

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