Now onto the countdown. I thank all of you that voted, and here are the results. The playlist itself goes in reverse order, starting at #10, and counting down to the number one best local act of all time. Well, at least according to you guys. This is a countdown of acts, not songs, so I simply selected what I feel to be one of the strongest songs by each performer. The chosen song is indicated in parenthesis.
THE TOP 10 LOCAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME
- Erykah Badu ("Appletree")
Dallas' own queen of soul has managed to stay musically relevent for the past decade through continual reinvention and melding of various styles in her music. Personally, I'm partial to the jazzier stylings of her debut album, Baduizm, but I am convinced that the woman is incapable of creating non-interesting music.
- Tripping Daisy ("My Umbrella")
Two bands seemed to defined 90's alternative rock in Dallas: Toadies and Tripping Daisy. Much to my surprise, Toadies failed to enter the top 10, but Tripping Daisy's heavier psychedelic rock sound managed to land them at number 9 on the countdown. Yes, I could've gone with the severely overplayed "I Got A Girl", but I found their debut album Bill to be a stronger effort as a whole. Tracks like "One Through Four", "Blown Away", and "My Umbrella" were regular staples on KDGE back in the day, and it seemed like the band was destined for mega-success. The rest of the nation never caught on until "I Got a Girl", but that was their loss.
- The Drams ("Unhinged")
I would have never expected The Drams to outchart Brent Best's previous band, Slobberbone. There is obviously a slant towards more recent band, which helped them. Either way, The Drams is no dramatic departure from Slobberbone. The country influences are not as obvious (particularly in comparison to Slobberbone's first two albums), but either way, it's all good.
- The Deathray Davies ("Jack Never Crashes")
I may have attented my first local show in 1996, but I truly credit The Deathray Davies as the band that started my addiction to local music. The band originally started as a Dallas super group of sorts, but it didn't take long for lead singer John Dufilho to realize that DRD needed to be more than a mere side project. The band's live shows were nothing short of parties, filled with enthusiastic audience members. Although the band has been on hiatus for awhile, expect to see the band perform shows this summer. Long live Deathray Davies!
- THe BAcksliders ("Have You Ever Been Down?")
Apparently I'm not the only person who feels that THe BAcksliders are one of the best live bands around town. At the rate the band is going, they might steal the number one spot next year if I redo the countdown.
- Sorta ("Sweet Little Bay")
There may be many bands from Dallas that I like and even love, but very few have had the emotional impact on me that Sorta had. I'm not quite sure how to put it in words. Is it the lyrics in the songs? Make no mistake, Trey Johnson is one of Dallas' finest singer-songwriters, but there's more to it than that alone. Is it the musicians around him that helped bring the songs to life? When Danny Balis, Chris Holt, Ward Williams, Trey Carmichael, and the incomparable Carter Albrecht are in your band, you have a group of musicians that could perform "Chopsticks" and make it sound like a musical masterpiece. Perhaps it was the mixture of all of that, with the addition of plenty of heart and soul from all of the above. All I know is that their songs were brutally honest, yet never brutal. Their songs always brough hope, no matter how hopeless the lyrics might have seemed. Yes, I'm gushing; I realize that. That's just the effect Sorta has on me.
- Sparrows ("My Beautiful Life")
Many people thought of Sorta and Sparrows as different sides of the same coin. There was certainly a major overlap of band members between the two projects. Whereas Sorta's sound was much mellower, Sparrows definitely possessed much more of the straight ahead rock sound, which I've heard compared to everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Led Zeppelin. Don't let the rocking sound fool you though; many of their songs shared a similar emotional intensity to that of Sorta. The band only released two full length CDs before disbanding, but lead singer Carter Albrecht managed to pack both efforts with his trademark sound. I'm particularly partial to the 2nd album, 5nowflak5, which pull off a particularly difficult balancing act. Even though the tunes were diverse in style, sound, and lyrical content, the album never felt disjointed but flowed smoothly from one track to another. And one final note: if anyone out there dislikes the song "My Beautiful Life", I have to seriously question that person's musical taste. Seriously, I do.
- Edie Brickell & New Bohemians ("What I Am")
I'm not sure if the New Bo's can take all the credit for giving birth to the modern day Deep Ellum scene, but when I think of popular local bands of the late 80's/early 90's, without fail, they are the first group that comes to my mind. Perhaps it's because they are one of the few non-metal Dallas acts to have major success outside of this city. No matter what one's opinion on the band is, it would be near impossible to deny the success of the band, as well their place in Dallas music history. Interesting fact: acts number 5 thru 3 all featured Carter Albrecht (he joined the band when they reunited this decade).
- Old 97's ("Murder or a Heart Attack")
I have to confess: I was pulling for this band to take the top spot in the countdown. I have never known a band that was as consistently great on stage as Old 97's. I've heard lead singer Rhett Miller grow musically through the years, from the teenage folk stylings of his first solo effort Mythologies, through all the various sounds that the Old 97's have tried on. Through it all, one thing has stayed consistent: Mr. Miller's wit and humor in his songs. Oh, and did I mention that Murry Hammond is quite possibly my favorite bass player of all time? I'm not sure what else there is to be said about the band that I haven't said already, so let's just say they kick ass and leave it at that.
- Salim Nourallah ("The World Is Full of People Who Want to Hurt You")
There's a stereotype in the music industry that as you get older, your music gets weaker. Granted, I could come up with a long list of superstars who have helped create the stereotype. And then there is Salim Nourallah. The man played in various bands over the years, including Moon Festival and Happiness Factor. It wasn't until Mr. Nourallah started releasing his solo albums, however, that he fully came into his own. Salim blends a Beatlesque pop sensibility with darker, more melancholy lyrics. The two might seem an odd pairing, but under his direction, he has composed some of the catchiest sad songs I've ever heard. No one but Mr. Nourallah could pull a song off like "The World Is Full of People Who Want to Hurt You". Between his two decades in the local music scene as both a musician and successful producer, Mr. Nourallah has definitely done more than enough to earn the title of Best Local Act of All Time.