Anyways, it's time for the playlist, and it's a pretty darn special playlist. You see, I'm counting down by top ten favorite local CD's of the past decade from #10 to #1, and I am including a track from each CD in the playlist. Enjoy!
- Toadies - Hell Below/Stars Above
Rubberneck made them famous across the nation and No Deliverance was hailed as their "return to form", but this album rarely gets the respect that it deserves. There may not be a song as immediately catchy as "Possum Kingdom", but this is as consistently good of a hard rock album as one will ever find. From the opening scream in "Plane Crash", you're reeled into Vaden Lewis' dark world of rock. The album's title track is the band's piece de resistance, a track that is epic in nature in spite of being a mere four minutes long.
Favorite track: "Hell Below/Stars Above"
- Salim Nourallah - Snowing in My Heart
Mr. Nourallah, more than any other local artist this decade, has maintained a steady high level of quality in every album he releases. It's hard to choose a favorite, but Snowing in My Heart edges out, melding together the pop sensibility in Polaroids with the heavier lyrical content of Beautiful Noise.
Favorite track: "Hang On"
- Sparrows - 5nowflake5
I must confess that I did not purchase this album until after the death of Carter Albrecht. As a result, certain tracks (most notably "My Beautiful Life") may hold a deeper personal meaning to me than they would have beforehand. Still, Carter's musicianship is something I have always respected. His piano solo in "Moonlight" is so impressive one might think that there was overdub in the recording process (there wasn't). Whether he's playing classical piano ("Moonlight"), rocking out ("All My Dreams Come True" and the title track) or playing a slower introspective song ("I Need to Hear a Quiter Song", "My Beautiful Life"), the album never feels disjointed. Instead, each track flows into the next seamlessly, blending together both variety in style with cohesiveness.
Favorite track: "My Beautiful Life"
- The Deathray Davies - The Day of the Ray
This may not be the most ambitious album, but sometimes fun wins out. This is one album that works all the way through. Pop nuggets like "Is This On?", "She Can Play Me Like a Drum Machine", and "The Medication's Gone" are infectious tunes that will linger in your head. Also, tracks like "She Can Play Me Like a Drum Machine" and "There's Too Much Ulterior in Your Motive" (hidden track) show that John Dufilho is as good a lyricist as a writer of melodies.
Favorite track: "The Medication's Gone"
- Legendary Crystal Chandelier - Beyond Indifference
Even if Peter Schmidt never releases his solo album (looking very likely at this point), at least he can say he ended things on top of his game. Yes, the album has plenty of catchy rockers ("People I Know", "A Plan") and gorgeous slower tracks ("Cut from the Same Cloth", "Temporary Words"). What sets Peter Schmidt's effort apart is his razor sharp lyrics, both intelligent and brutally honest.
Favorite track: "Cut from the Same Cloth""
- Doug Burr- On Promenade
The album was released shortly after I began Ghost of Blind Lemon, almost as if the purpose of the blog was to praise this release. Okay, so perhaps that's an exaggeration, but On Promenade is a hauntingly beautiful collection of nearly perfect tracks, cementing Mr. Burr's reputation as one of the metroplex's finest singer/songwriters.
Favorite track: "Slow Southern Home"
- Rahim Quazi - Supernatural
I'm not sure what there is to say that wasn't said in my 2008 review of the album, other than to say that I stand behind every word that I said.
Favorite track: "Supernatural"
- Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
I confess, I was one of the last to jump on the Midlake bandwagon. I had heard the critical buzz, but I'm often quite skeptical of such buzz. My prediction was that it would be overly quirky, to the point that the band sacrificed melody in order to be "avant-garde". I could not have been more wrong if I had tried. There is nothing pretentious about the CD, unless if you think of 70's radio pop as pretentious. Yes, one can hear traces of America and Bread in the CD, yet this is not a band looking just to copy styles, but infuse the best parts of the period into something fresh and modern.
Favorite track: "We Gathered in Spring"
- Pleasant Grove - The Art of Leaving
Interestingly enough, my top two favorite local albums were both released in 2004. Because of that fact, The Art of Leaving never had the full spotlight shone on it like it so richly deserved. It's a shame, because in any other year, this album would have annihilated the rest of the competition to be the year's best CD. Props to Marcus Striplin, not only for writing some of the most beautifully heartbreaking songs to ever emerge from the metroplex, but for a vocal delivery that amplifies the emotional intensity of every line.
Favorite track: "Commander Whatever"
- Sorta - Little Bay
This is easily the finest album released this decade, local or otherwise. What makes this CD so great? Is it Trey Johnson's straight forward, honest vocal performance? That's obviously part of it; his delivery of "Sink or Swim" never ceases to give me goosebumps. Is it the songs? There's not a loser in the bunch, whether it be the honky tonk sounding "Laugh Out Loud (Georgie), the Pink Floyd sounding "Fallinlove" which bleeds into the beautiful "To Jenny" or the deceptively happy sounding "Bridges", these songs will linger in your head for not days or weeks, but years. Does the credit go to the instrumentalists backing up Mr. Johnson? With musicians like Danny Balis, Ward Williams, Trey Carmichael, and Carter Albrecht, that goes without saying. Still, if you're looking for a singular reason for why this album is great, you won't find a simple answer. There is a quality to this album that defies simple explanation. All I can say is that these songs don't just make a home in your head, but in your heart.
Favorite track: "Bridges"
Honorable Mentions: The Chemistry Set - Blue Monsters, Chomsky - Onward Quirky Soldiers, The Crash That Took Me - Chlorine Colored Eyes, Flickerstick - Welcoming Home the Astronauts, Macon Greyson - Translate