The Recommender prides itself on being well-networked. We put a lot of effort into sharing, chatting, tweeting and generally being an all-round friendly blog, especially to other music bloggers. We understand the time and effort that goes into making a successful music blog and so we sympathise with the many thousands of other bloggers out there, who put their hearts and passions into their spaces.
Every year we run through hundreds of music blogs, either via our bookmarks or our RSS feeds and get tons of enjoyment and, most essentially, a boot-load of new music. There really is no better place in the underground for discovering new music than blogs. As an annual “thank you” we open our pages to poll those bloggers about who they believe are the finest music blogs around and with that poll closing yesterday we now have the results.
This time of year there’s lots of ‘best of‘ lists, as blogs add up their favourite tracks and albums of 2011. Some of them even list their top music blogs, but only our poll actually asks other music bloggers to vote for their favourites in one giant poll. It’s now in it’s second year (see the previous poll and it’s results here and here). As with the previous year, this is a strictly peers-only voted poll, giving music bloggers a chance to define the leading sites inside our busy sphere.
And vote they did, with over 180 bloggers from around the world casting their votes. At least 217 blogs got at least 1 vote each. The numbers are up on last year, with the winner getting an astonishing 19 votes, marking their blog out as a clear leader from early on. Below we give mentions to all those with 5 votes or more, as well as the Top 5, to whom we give a special mention as our winners.
SPECIAL MENTIONS -
No Fear Of Pop (5 votes)
The Needle Drop (5 votes)
My Band’s Better Than Your Band (5 votes)
Tympanogram (6 votes)
Mostly Junkfood (6 votes)
Listen Before You Buy (6 votes)
I Guess I’m Floating (7 votes)
Disco Naivete (7 votes)
Some Kind Of Awesome (7 votes)
YVYNYL (8 votes)
Rollo Grady (8 votes)
No Modest Bear (8 votes)
Breaking More Waves (8 votes)
Abeano (8 votes)
Aquarium Drunkard (9 votes)
Pretty Much Amazing (10 votes)
Gorilla vs Bear (11 votes)
Song, By Toad (11 votes)
Pigeons & Planes (14 votes)
We Listen For You (19 votes)
Our opinion on the winner – Zach and Hank feel like the perfect winners for a poll such as this. In a twist of coincidence, prior to knowing they’d won this poll, they posted up on their site a piece entitled “Best Music Blogs of 2011“, giving love and recognition to the blogs they adore, so it’s fitting that we see their peers have reciprocated the respect by voting them as Best Music Blog of 2011 on The Recommender.
Like a lot of bloggers they are deep inside the network, getting as much from trawling the blogs as anyone else. They have a passion for blogs and it’s this that bleeds into their own site. Theirs is a blog without fuss, advertising, or a cluttered layout. It’s simple, humble, regularly updated and influential. They’re self-confessed music geeks too, with a love for vinyl and their knowledge of music’s history gives them an informed, contextual opinion. It’s the perfect example of a true blog and you will consistently discover some brilliant, new music if you give them a regular visit.
We hooked up with Zach to get his response to the win…
THE RECOMMENDER: What is your reaction to winning the peers-voted Best Music Blog 2011 award?
WE LISTEN FOR YOU: Hank and I are extremely flattered. Even with having our own website, both of us are obsessed with reading other music blogs and for them to vote for us is very special.
TR: When did you start your blog?
TR: Where is your blog ‘from’, or which city/place is it affiliated to?
WLFY: I’m located in Los Angeles, CA and Hank is in Scranton, PA.
TR: Who is the editor and can you please name any/all of your contributors?
WLFY: We don’t have an editor. Hank and I created WLFY and both take on all the responsibilities the blog calls for.
TR: Can you please explain the name and the purpose of your blog?
WLFY: At this point I wish we would have called it something different. A lot of people interpret the blog title as a pretentious proclamation that “hey, don’t listen to anything, we’ll do it for you.” The actual idea behind We Listen For You is the fact that with the digital age booming and anyone with a computer having the ability to record an album…there is way too much music out there to consume. We act as a filter, listening to three-five albums/tracks a day to bring our readers what we consider to be the best of the bunch. From there we want readers to add to the conversation, not just go along with our opinion.
TR: Which genres of music do you cover most?
WLFY: Most of our focus is on independent music of all genres. Hank also writes about older records and reissues. With the addition of Spotify, we’re going to do weekly flashback posts in 2012 highlighting forgotten records from past decades.
TR: How often do you update your blog?
WLFY: We try to do two posts a day. Since there are only two of us, we have waves, sometimes Hank picks up the slack and other times I step up.
TR: Do you have a day job too? Is it connected to the music industry in any way?
WLFY: I’m a screenwriter and Hank is a playwright and Theater Professor at Scranton University.
TR: What are the most popular features on your blog?
WLFY: My favorite section is the WLFY Soundcast. It’s a rough podcast where I talk with fellow bloggers/bands/etc about issues surrounding the current music scene. None of it is really planned or hashed out so it comes across as two-three people sitting around and bantering.
We’re also huge vinyl fans so our section “Important Wax” is also a personal favorite, although not that popular. We try to highlight four to five vinyl picks that we think deserve a place on your turntable.
As far as popular sections go, we get most of our hits from reviews. We would both love to review more records, but we don’t like to rush them since they feel very permanent and we want to respect the band we review.
TR: What’s the best thing about being a music blogger?
WLFY: The greatest feeling is when a small band or artist e-mails saying that one of our posts actually helped them move forward. We almost shut down the site last year and then we received an e-mail from a singer/songwriter telling us that because of the support from WLFY he got signed to a label and sold enough downloads to record his next record. That doesn’t happen with every band we write about, it’s rare with our small level of hits/klout, but the feeling of actually helping made Hank and I realize that what we do is beyond us and we need to work hard to be the best we can be.
No matter how many times we get a press pass for a show/festival or talk to a band that likes our site, I always feel lucky and excited because while I’m a blogger, I’m a huge music fan, the two will always be connected.
TR: Why do you think your peers voted for We Listen For You as their winner?
WLFY: I’m not really sure. There are much better music blogs out there…more professional, consistent, popular, etc. We don’t care about being the most popular and that usually works as an advantage for us because speaking our mind, good or bad, keeps us an honest source for sharing music. But, honestly, I’m not sure.
TR: What is next for We Listen For You and where do you see it going in years to come?
WLFY: We’re pretty comfortable with our regular sections now, so we can focus on improving those daily. While Hank and I are both writers, we’re new to writing about music. Each year we learn what works and what doesn’t and hopefully we’re improving with time/practice. 2012 will be all about creating original content and trying to find the best music to share with our readers.
TR: Do you have any useful blogging tips?
WLFY: Have a voice, be passionate, and stand behind your opinion. It’s not always popular to speak your mind, especially when you’re saying something negative, but if you stand behind your thoughts and reveal who you are as a music fan, a readership will follow. When you get a steady readership, communicate with them, a lot our readers point us to some of the best music and constantly keep us on our toes with interesting debates.
TR: Is there anything you would like to say to the peers that voted for you in our poll?
WLFY: I’m not going to act nonchalant at all…Hank and I are blown away by this honor. It means a lot to us. Hank and I are bloggers, music fans, and avid music blog readers. To be picked by people we respect and read everyday is a feeling that requires words beyond my writing ability.