Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Top 50 Songs of the Last 5 Years

Back in June, I began a project where I was going to recap my 50 favorite local tunes released since the blog began.  Each day, I would reveal a new song on the countdown until today, where I would reveal the number one song.  Unfortunately, I was not able to keep up with the project as I would have liked.  But today would be the perfect day to catch up, right?  So here is the complete Top 50 list, with comments beginning at number 8.
  1. "Who's That Girl", PPT
  2. "Same Old, Same Old", Hello Lover
  3. "All Inside", The Felons
  4. "German Chocolate Cake", Bravo, Max!
  5. "The Message", Dem Southernfolkz
  6. "Nip/Tuck", The Orange
  7. "Icarus", Arielle
  8. "We Will All Be Changed", Seryn
  9. "Virtue And Vice", The Virgin Wolves
  10. "Little Bear", Elkhart
  11. "Love Bomb", Rude King
  12. "The Great Escape", Damaged Good$
  13. "Need a Release", the cut*off
  14. "Were Her", The Orbans
  15. "Young & Reckless", The Roomsounds
  16. "Three", The Timeline Post
  17. "Dalton the Prophet", Nicholas Altobelli
  18. "You Pressed the Crash Button", Novaak
  19. "Paper Girl", Katie Carroll
  20. "Move Along", Blue Petal
  21. "Pastel Lights", Ishi
  22. "Seven", Ducado Vega
  23. "Love That Leaves", Somebody's Darling
  24. "Black Light", Macon Greyson
  25. "Aim High", Chris Holt
  26. "Set Me Free", The Red 100's
  27. "Truth on Tape", Smile Smile
  28. "Mindreader", Lovie
  29. "Wire to the Walls", RTB2
  30. "All Because You're Mine", Air Review
  31. "Just Wanna Try", Luna Matto
  32. "Burning Pictures", The Monco Poncho
  33. "Hang On", Salim Nourallah
  34. "Swelling", Sarah Jaffe
  35. "Try Try Try", Spector 45
  36. "Bleeder", True Widow
  37. "For Keeps", Iris Leu
  38. "What Turns Inside", Dove Hunter
  39. "I Still Wait", The O's
  40. "Gypsy Woman", Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights
  41. "Indian Melody", Pale Horse
  42. "You're No Good", Pale Horse
  43. "Where the Light Is", Emmeline
  44. Back in the summer of 2009 when I was booking shows at Lakewood Bar & Grill, assistant manager John Keener recommend I come out one night to watch Emmeline play.  My first impression was quite positive, but over the years, I have watched her develop into one of the best entertainers in the metroplex.  Emmeline always manages to balance the humor with the heartbreak, although this track is firmly in the heartbreak camp.
  45. "Slow Southern Home", Doug Burr
  46. Mr. Burr's On Promenade was released almost at the same time as the blog.  It was as if my blog was created to gush about how wonderful an album Doug released.  Not really, but it'd be an easy argument to make.  It's hard to select just one track from the album, but "Slow Southern Home" is such a perfectly paced song that slowly and steadily worms its way into your consciousness.  While the word pop seems a weird choice to describe this song, it's catchy, melodic, and memorable.  So in a sense, Mr. Burr has created a great pop song with "Slow Southern Home".
  47. "Red in the Morning", Menkena
  48. Who would've thought that my favorite shoegaze band in Dallas would have been formed by a punk rocker?  And yet Jimmy Menkena, former lead singer of NYC punk band INDK, has created some of the most gorgeous sonic landscapes I've heard these past five years.  Even more impressive is his ability to write heartfelt and thought provoking lyrics to these songs.  Most shoegaze acts tend to neglect the lyrical aspect, but Jimmy embraces it 110%.
  49. "Afraid of the Dark", Sorta
  50. It's interesting that Sorta, a band that primarily existed before the birth of Ghost of Blind Lemon, made it into the Top 5.  But Sorta's final eponymous album ranks as one of their strongest works, with no song stronger in my opinion that this one.  This songs breaks my heart a little each time I listen to it.  And the ending line, "Oh, it's over" sends chills every time.  In fact, the part of the song where the background vocalists sing that line was recorded shortly after Carter Albrecht's death.  That only makes the line more chilling.
  51. "Fat Girls", THe BAcksliders
  52. It's a shame that THe BAcksliders broke up just weeks ago.  The band was arguably the best, most consistent live band over these five years.  Between Kim Bonner's soulful vocals and Chris Bonner's underrated work on guitar, the shows were always electric.  Plus, having Taylor Young recording with the band in the early days (including this track), you can't go wrong.
  53. "Rivers Into Rum", Carter Albrecht
  54. One can't help but wonder what music would have come out of Mr. Albrecht over these years if he was still with us.  If this song is any indication, we've missed out on a goldmine of potential material.  I'm not sure what else to say, except that I never tire of this song.
  55. "Supernatural", Rahim Quazi
  56. If this list was about the top 50 artists over the past five years, Rahim would for me take the top spot.  His performances are ever evolving, and his lyrics are always spot on.  I've included him on countless Ghost of Blind Lemon showcases, and have loved every time he has graced the stage with his presence.  And while the title track of his 2008 CD only takes the silver, it is nevertheless one of the best written songs I've heard, local or otherwise.  Personally, I believe that this track could have even been a true hit single given the right chance.  Even had I not known Mr. Quazi personally, I can tell you that the opening hook would have grabbed me and forced me to take notice.
  57. "Echo and the Pass", Hendrick
  58. I knew Gregory Pierce from performing with Iris Leu (see song #14).  When his other project, Hendrick, released Exhale, he sent me a copy.  I sampled the album, liking all the songs, but when it came to this track, I knew this song would be my favorite from the CD.  Only a week after hearing this track, I predicted that it would likely be by number one track of 2009.  Sometimes songs that are defining for a year eventually get dated, but that has yet to be the case for me with this song.  Every time I listen to "Echo and the Pass", it is a deeply moving personal experience.  There's something almost symphonic in the structure of the song, and once the song reaches its climax, words cannot do justice.  I must, however, give props to Hans Grumbein and his phenomenal guitar work in this song.  And Joshua Hendrick's vocal performance is so perfect and chilling, I believe that the heartbreak in his voice translates, no matter what language you speak.  This is one of my all time favorite songs, local or otherwise.  Simply put, the best of the best.
And that concludes the countdown.  For those who want to listen, I've included all the songs in this below playlist, starting with song 50 and ending with "Echo and the Pass".  Listen, and enjoy.

50-1 by Chris Mueller on Grooveshark

Five Years

Five years ago on this day, I finally took a friend’s piece of advice and started a music blog.  My only concern at the time was that the market might be oversaturated with local music blogs.  Back then, we had The Fine Line, Boca Tina, and We Shot JR each providing their unique twist on the local music scene.  Five years later, I’m the only one of those sites still running and posting on a (somewhat) regular basis.  Why I'm the last man (or Ghost) standing, I do not know.  Some might say it's my persistence, others would say my stubbornness.  Either way, it seems this is the last of the truly LOCAL music blogs in the area.

These five years have been filled with everything from joy to disappointment, hope to frustration, optimism to cynicism, and just about every sentiment in between.  I’ve seen the best sides of the music scene, as well as the... uh, other sides.  Through that time, the one thing that has never disappointed me is the music coming from our area.  I could run through a laundry list of flaws with the scene: fickle fans who only support their friend’s bands, venues that don’t pay bands fairly, bands who don’t promote and have unrealistic expectations of payment.  Sadly, all of those problems are all too real and common.  Still, the music remains, and it remains strong as ever.

As for the scene, it is certainly stronger than when the blog began.  My biggest motivation for starting the blog was seeing what a hit the music scene (particularly Deep Ellum) had taken.  At that time, the neighborhood was all but a ghost town.  Now, people are returning to the area on a regular basis.  It’s not what it was in the 1990’s; parts of me doubt it may ever reach that level again.  Still, Deep Ellum is alive and well now.  People are walking the streets, going from club to club, making it a destination neighborhood again.

My only hope is that I can continue to help the musicians and the community, Deep Ellum and beyond, continue to grow.  Between booking and my other job, I often feel that this blog is way underutilized.  There are too many bands, shows, and events that it seems I do not have the time to write about.  That has become too frequent of a problem over these five years, and for that, I sincerely apologize.  I won’t promise that it will get better, simply because I fear that it would be a broken promise.  The only thing I can do is try to do more.

Other than that, there’s not much more to say other than this: thank you.  I have a long list of people to thank, so bear with me.  First off, I have to thank Cindy Chaffin of The Fine Line.  When I decided to start the blog, she was the first one I talked to about the idea.  She has always been extremely supportive of all my endeavors, and considering what a strong advocate of local music she has been, that has meant a lot to me.  Thanks to Neil Connell, owner of The Crown and Harp, for giving me the opportunity to become a regular booker for his venue.  I look forward to bringing bigger and better shows to your place in the coming months.  To Chad Lovell and Kim Keebler, thanks for letting me be a part of the dysfunctional family unit known as Deep Ellum Radio.  Ever since I was young, I’d always hoped to have my own radio show.  You’ve given me an opportunity I was thought would merely be a dream for me.  I owe an additional thanks to Kim for allowing me to book shows at her store, In Accord.   I cannot wait to see what the store looks like after the remodel!  To all the wonderful musicians I’ve met over the past few years, thank you for your support.  There are too many of you to name each and every one of you that has enriched my life over these years.  Just know that you are what keep me going in my journey of local music.  Finally, to all of my readers and all fans of local music, thank you.  Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts, and more than that, thank you for supporting local music.  Without you, nothing happens.

And as my way of saying thank you, expect a very major show announcement in the coming days.  I’ll give more details soon, but I’ll tell you to mark August 24th on your calendars as the celebration of the five year anniversary of Ghost of Blind Lemon.

In the meantime, enjoy this Polyphonic Spree cover of Bowie’s classic “Five Years”.  I mean, what else would I play today?

Five Years by The Polyphonic Spree on Grooveshark