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Top 40 Local Tracks of 2009
- "Cool Kids", Romp Almighty
What a nice lo-fi rock way to start out the countdown.
- "Change Gon' Come", Dem Southernfolkz
If you like this track, as you should, go to demsouthernfolkz.com to download it for free.
- "The Vultures Are Circling", Jack with One Eye
It's nice to see shoegaze making a comeback in Dallas, and Jack with One Eye has one of the first metroplex bands to breathe life back into the format.
- "Fooling Vampires", Jayson Bales & The Charmers
One of the most pleasantly surprising shows I saw all year was when this band played at Opening Bell Coffee in October. This is easily the catchiest song off their latest, Along the Fault Line.
- "I'm on Fire", The Farstar
Keep an eye out for their full length being released this year. In the meantime, enjoy this catchy (and rather radio friendly) track.
- "The Queen Himself", Fate Lions
This is one of many great acts I had the honor of hosting at my series of shows this summer at Lakewood Bar & Grill. The band started as an alt-country outfit, but as this track shows, they work best as a power-pop group.
- "Lightbulbs", Something in the Wheel
Take away the comedic nature of The O's and add a more earnest nature, and it might sound something like this band.
- "I Can't Make You Happy", Ronnie Fauss
By creating such an oversimplistic melody as there is in this song, it creates a "make or break" moment for the songwriter. If the songwriter's lyrical game is even slightly off, it will break the song. Fortunately, Mr. Fauss makes the song, and the only breaking taking place is that of your heart.
- "Down That Dusty Road", Nicholas Altobelli
Nicholas Altobelli is certainly one of the most prolific singer songwriters to emerge from the metroplex area in the past few years. Tracks like this show he doesn't sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity.
- "Galaxy", Blue Petal
Sadly to say, the band broke up this past summer, so this is the last of the Blue Petal CD's. The good news? Lead singer Manya Repnikova is working on her first solo effort.
- "Whiskey Talkin'", Boys Named Sue
The Sues talking about alcohol? Who'd have thunk it?
- "Lucy", John Lefler
When Mr. Lefler first emerged on the local music horizon, he'd always have the phrase "from Dashboard Confessional" attached to his name. After the group of solid pop tunes on Better by Design, he proved he is worthy not only of success independent of Dashboard Confessional, but that his record is far superior to the other band he is in.
- "Straight out the Gate", Oso Closo
My love of this song grew exponentially with each listen. I'm convinced that had I known this song when it came out earlier this year, it might have made the top 10. I need to rewatch this band play live.
- "Jimmy is About to Die", Chucky Sly
This is easily the most intelligent hip-hop track I've heard in a long, long time. Chucky Sly shows that the art of storytelling in the rap world is alive and kicking.
- "Mermaid of Virginia", The Naptime Shake
Proof that Noah W. Bailey is as good of a songwriter as he is a Dallas Observer writer.
- "Snow in June", Little Black Dress
"Robin" may be getting all the airplay on KXT, but it's the title track to LBD's album that best personifies all that is beautiful and dreamy in shoegaze music.
- "Girl from the City", The King Bucks
Dallas' favorite honky tonk band makes its showing here.
- "5000 Miles to London", Winslow Bright
I must admit I was caught off guard by Winslow's performance at her CD release show. This young lady is not only a great vocalist, but she knows how to work a crowd. This particular track about long distance love has stuck in my head with its 60's Dusty Springfield influenced sound.
- "Young & Reckless", The Roomsounds
From the first few seconds of the intro, I was instantly hooked. If Roomsounds can continue to create songs this catchy, they could own this town.
- "Come Closer", Shiny Around the Edges
Start with one throbbing bass line, mix one part killer drum beat and one part ominous vocal performance, and put in a low-fi indie blender, and you have one delicious musical concoction.
- "Horses", Somebody's Darling
The band made their debut on Shiner Records, and this track contains everything that SD fans have come to know and love in this band.
- "Five Minutes", Binary Sunrise
This band walk the tightrope between 80's dance music and rock, and created an album filled with songs perfect for any party. This track, however, stands out as their catchiest track of all.
- "Manic", Here Holy Spain
If I had to select a hard rock anthem for 2009, the title track to Here Holy Spain's CD would be the champion, hands down.
- "For Ages", Sara Donaldson
I've been waiting for Ms. Donaldson's second CD, Leaving Winter, for two years. I was starting to question if this CD would ever see the light of day, but fortunately my wait ended this fall. Ms. Donaldson is one of the most underappreciated and overlooked gems in the metroplex, and this track showcases her beautiful vocals and instrumental talents.
- "Leave Me Out", The Felons
I think my blog set a record for most hits in a day after reviewing the band's album At Sea. The band has developed a loyal following, due in large part to a strong live set and some great songs. Much of the album is quite dark, and while this may be the "happiest" track from the CD, to call it happy would be a stretch. What it is, instead, is more of a declaration of independence from letting someone else drag him down. The melody helps accentuate the defiantly celebratory nature of the song.
- "Pushing Strings", Macon Greyson
Macon Greyson songs can usually be enjoyed on two different levels. On the surface, the songs are alt-country rock anthems, the kind that Son Volt use to make once upon a time. Yet if you dig deeper, you'll discover highly intelligent lyrics and stories courtesy of lead singer Buddy Huffman. If you like this track, go to macongreyson.com and download his Machine Kills Hypocrisy free of cost. Call it their way of helping you thru these tough economic times.
- "Tethered", Danny Balis
I first discovered Mr. Balis when he played bass with Sorta. Here, he steps into the spotlight, and the spotlight thanks him. You will not find a more genuine bunch of country tunes this year than those on Too Much Living. And lyrically, Danny Balis has become quite the honky tonk poet; I could easily select half a dozen lines from this song to prove my point.
- "Which We Have Heard and Known", Doug Burr
When Mr. Burr released The Shawl, the reaction to the album was quite mixed, more than likely because of the lyrical content of the album (lifted from the Psalms). Personally, I think that the beauty of the melody and Doug Burr's hauntingly beautiful vocal performance should be enough to lure in any listener, regardless if their religious beliefs (or even lack thereof).
- "When Hammer Hits Stone", RTB2
How is it that Ryan Thomas Becker and Grady Sandlin were able to create a rock anthem, a miniature epic of sorts, that sounds more grand than most bands that have the more traditional four to six member lineups? Perhaps it's the fact that both Mr. Becker and Mr. Sandlin possess more talent than your average three musicians combined. When watching Becker live, one wonders where the sounds come from, as one lone individual such not be capable of creating such a beautiful noise. And let's not forget Grady, one of the area's finest drummers. If you don't like this song, then you don't like rock. It's that simple.
- "Unfavorable Way", Trey Johnson
Former Sorta frontman Trey Johnson releases his first solo album, Mount Pelee, and many of the tracks, such as this one, stray from the traditional Sorta sound. What has not changed, however, is Mr. Johnson's ability to tell a great story. This song, like the album, grows on you with each listen.
- "Were Her", The Orbans
This band is mere inches away from being ready for the big time. This particular track is as perfect of a blend of alt-country and radio friendly pop that has emerged from Dallas since Fight Songs period Old 97's. Oh, and check out the video to the song, which is easily the best video by any local band this year.
- "Hollowville", Iris Leu
At the beginning of the year, I had not even heard of Ms. Leu. She sent me a copy of Hushaboo, and it was love at first listen. Her piano based tunes a la Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Paula Cole, and the like fill a void in the local music scene that has been left vacant for way too long. Her voice ranges from tender and beautiful (as is the case in "Hollowville") to fierce and angry, but no matter what, Ms. Leu commands the attention and respect of the listener.
- "Pictures Collected", Salim Nourallah
More than any other artist, I had a hard time selecting which song of Mr. Nourallah's to include in the countdown. Would it be the angry rocker "It's Not Enough", the easily to sing along with "Saint Georges", the touching tribute to Carter Albrecht "In the Blink of an Eye", or one of the many other great tunes? In the end, I selected "Pictures Collected", with its poignant lyrics and catchy beat. It's the track off of Constellation that I find myself returning to most often.
- "Have You Ever Been Down?", THe BAcksliders
THe BAcksliders said Thank You to Dallas by releasing an album that can be downloaded for free at their website. It is us, the music fans, however, that should be thanking the band. No other band in Dallas plays rock music as down and dirty as they do, and I mean that as a high form of praise. Their live shows are a fierce and unforgettable experience because of the energetic tunes and the full power performances given by all in the band. This particular track manages to capture a short but powerful snapshot of everything that is right in the band, acting as a sort of Cliff Notes of what the band is all about.
- "Chasing Corporate", Air Review
The band declares that "this could be our only chance" in this very radio friendly hit about, well, wanting to be radio stars. In the process, the band has created a sound that is easily accessible to a wide audience without ever dumbing down either the lyrics or melodies. And with songs like this, corporate should be chasing Air Review, not the other way around.
- "Patricia Lynn", The Crash That Took Me
Dylan Silvers has been playing in bands for over a decade now, but he has finally perfected his craft with his most recent effort with TCTTM. Chlorine Colored Eyes is an experimental and trippy record, yet it never comes off as sloppy or indulgent. Instead, it is the right mixture of ambition and strong melodies. Also, check out the killer drum intro provided by Eddie Thomas, who now rivals Quincy Holloway (Dove Hunter) as my favorite local drummer.
- "Red in the Morning", Menkena
I confess, I sort of cheated by slipping this song into the countdown, as Menkena's CD is not available yet. I did, however, allow readers to download the track on my website. Plus, Menkena was one of the bands that best defined the year for me. The band's blend of unique shoegaze melodies combined with lead vocalist Jimmy Menkena's strength for storytelling in his lyrics make the band one of the freshet and most unique bands to emerge from our area in a long, long time.
- "When You're Younger", Carter Albrecht
I don't think there was a more anticipated local release this year than Mr. Albrceht's solo CD. This hauntingly beautiful and simple track reminds us of the void left by his death, a void that cannot be filled.
- "You've Got Your Heart", The O's
Simply put, The O's conquered the metroplex area this year. Between constantly performing in the area, their onstage shenanigans, and pure bluegrass melodies, audiences fell in love with the band. And with songs like "You've Got Your Heart", the band got our hearts in return.
- "Echo and the Pass", Hendrick
By my second listen of the song, I knew this was the track to beat for best song of the year. The song starts slowly, yet the simple guitar intro provided by Hans Grumbein sucks in the listener. As the song progresses and the guitars get more intense, so does the emotional impact of the song. Lead vocalist Josh Hendrick provides such an intense vocal performance of the song that the emotions felt are conveyed so beautifully I'm convinced that I'd understand the song even if I didn't speak English. By the time the song reaches its climax, the song has taken your breath away, and it taps into something so primal that it defies explanation. Words cannot do this song justice, and yes, the song really is that amazing. Bravo to Hendrick, who have created the ultimate masterpiece of 2009.