By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
The best locally made music of the decade—please. Like anybody could know that, especially a small handful of writers bound by personal connections, affections, attractions and tastes. (It's music! We're all right! And completely wrong!) No doubt we've forgotten a handful of worthy contenders; no doubt you'll call us out for including worthless pretenders. Your points will be valid: This list is bullshit. Duly noted. Absolutely agree.
But we did try. We traded e-mails, included and deleted bands and titles that did and didn't make the final cut, and sat around late one frigid evening and asked why two albums by an artist couldn't make the list if it's supposed to be accurate rather than merely inclusive. Mama's Gun deserves just as much love as New Amerykah Pt. 1; and God knows how many times we went around and around over Centro-Matic and New Year landing but one disc on this list.
And, good Lord, where are the comps: Band-Kits, Electric Ornaments, Zac Crain for Mayor (see, it wasn't so ill-fated after all)?
In the end, I guess, we just wanted something representative of the goods locals have spoiled us with during the '00s. All comers welcome, but please, take one and share with the rest. —Robert Wilonsky
Baboon, Baboon (2006): After a four-year wait and a building fear that there was no more to come, Baboon self-released an album so aggressively listenable you could easily play it through several times before considering skipping a song. And yet Baboon's eponymous victory wasn't and isn't safe: Punk and experimental tendencies combine here with ferocious vocals and pop melodies, and, in turn, the band produced something not only edgy but notoriously fun. Now with another four years gone and members in other projects, Baboon might've been a swan song. We truly hope not—but if it was, it's one helluva way to go. —Merritt Martin
Erykah Badu, New Amerykah Pt. 1: 4th World War (2008): The opening track of this disc, the first in a series of two (Pt. 2 drops in February), promises "More excitement...More action...More everything" and the 11 songs that follow more than live up to that billing. More than that, as those songs play out, the White Rock Queen gets launched well past her neo-soul tag, eventually landing in the stratosphere of the true artistes, where genre classification eventually becomes obsolete. If we had to give New Amerykah, Pt. 1 a descriptor, we'd shrug before offering "funksploitation" as our best effort. Viscerally angry and raw, this disc is an hour-long journey through the problems of society. Hit single "Honey" was, truly, but the tip of the head-spinning, jaw-dropping iceberg. —Pete Freedman
Baptist Generals, No Silver/No Gold (2003): From the moment Chris Flemmons' cell phone interrupts a flawless take of "Ay Distress"—sending the local hero into a fit of frustration captured for posterity—you know you're in for a strange and wonderful ride with Baptist Generals' No Silver/No Gold, a collection of Tex-Mex outsider folk that's easily one of the best albums of the decade, local or otherwise. Sure, we're still waiting for a follow-up—though, really, if the seven-years-and-counting wait results in just one song as perfect as "Going Back Song," it will be more than worth it. —Noah W. Bailey
Doug Burr, On Promenade (2007): Each listen to On Promenade has the potential to leave you in a state of visceral reaction. Over the course of 11 songs, singer-songwriter Doug Burr wades with distinctive voice, guitar and various instruments between love, loss, simple beauty and historical disaster. But, despite the weight of the topic, Burr's monumental achievement is somehow developing each song into a perfectly dynamic composition from instrument to harmony without ever overworking a theme, a word or a bridge. A cohesive album from start to finish, On Promenade is oddly hard to assign genre or reference—it is its own very emotional victory. —M.M.
Centro-matic, All the Falsest Hearts Can Try (2000): Oh, you can like all their albums, but Centro-matic fans most assuredly love All the Falsest Hearts Can Try. The powerful 2000 release, in many cases, inspired listeners to follow the humble Denton-ish quartet if they weren't already. Though anthemic with college-radio-friendly "Huge in Every City," "Most Everyone Will Find" and "The Blisters May Come," Falsest also scores for its poetic subtlety ("Gas Blowin' Out of Our Eyes" and "Saving a Free Seat"). It's all manner of showcase, fan favorites and invitations for more—with the most endearingly disappointing liner notes of all time, to boot. —M.M.
Chomsky, A Few Possible Selections for the Soundtrack of Your Life (2000): Say you wanted to relive those spry days in Deep Ellum circa the late '90s/early '00s when you headed out to Trees or Clearview, pumped a fist or bobbed a head and yelled carefully timed percussive syllables to incredibly catchy power pop. Well, then you'd throw on Chomsky's creepy and invigorating "Sigmund," the driving and hooky "Road" or any of the other tracks from their aptly named 2000 release, and you'd certainly have A Few Possible Selections for the Soundtrack of (that time in) Your Life that still hold up pretty damn well today. —M.M.