[Over the next few weeks, we'll be presenting our favorite local songs of the year, counting down from No. 25 to No. 1, one track a day. Today, we take an in-depth look at song No. 12 on the list -- and, please, feel free to click after the jump to hear a stream of the track. Also after the jump, check out songs No. 50-13 in the Top 50 list that will update as it grows...]
Technically, Ryan Thomas Becker's latest solo album, Neighborhoof (no, that's not a typo), didn't come out in 2010. It came out in 2009, at the very tail end. Given the timing of these year-end lists, it didn't make our 2009 cut. But it very much makes our 2010 one -- mostly because it's incredibly deserving. Like pretty much everything Becker does.
Long hailed for his animated live performances both in solo settings and as part of his main gig in RTB2, Neighborhoof highlights a different side of Becker -- a softer side. And whereas RTB2, more often than not, flashes Becker's monumental guitar-playing talents, Neighborhoof, by turning the volume down a few notches, finds Becker establishing himself as one of the great songwriting talents of the region.
Really, the entire album stands as such a testament. It's a vast collection that showcases his many different sides as a performer. But they all stand as proof of one thing: When it comes to immediately classic Americana takes, no one in the region can top Becker.
In many ways, he's a performer that seems somewhat out of place in the modern era. Other artists in the region painstakingly strive from retro-leaning sounds; for Becker and his classic rock sound, it all seems to come quite easily -- and not as some sort of statement on trends, but rather as a statement on proper taste.
All throughout Neighborhoof, that much smacks listeners in the face -- but never moreso than on the album closer, "So Speak," which jumps out because, for the most part, it's so different from the rest of this performer's catalog. Less a rock song and more a somber pop romp, "So Speak" boasts perhaps the most tasteful guitar play we've heard in these past 12 months. And it's a special kind of tasteful, too -- the kind that, in a lesser performer's hands, might come off somewhat cheesy. In Becker's hands, though, it's just another adornment toward the song's heart-wrenching end.
And, in the end, 2010 proved a storybook one for Becker. In a far less heart-wrenching and far more heart-warming turn, Becker and his playing partner in RTB2, drummer Grady Don Sandlin, who faced incredibly stiff competition in this year's Dallas Observer Music Awards, walked away from our awards ceremony with the title of Best Group in the region.
For good reason, too. Becker's among the region's greatest musical treasures. And with Sandlin by his side -- as he is on Neighborhoof, too, providing the drum beat and graciously removing his name from the big lights -- no one else was more deserving.
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The Top 50 Local Songs of 2010 (Links to music videos and free song downloads available where applicable; links to streams where neither a download nor video exists.)
50. Dear Human - "Waiting"
49. Nervous Curtains - "All Yesterday's Parties"
48. Spector 45 - "Try Try Try"
47. Smile Smile - "Beg You To Stay"
46. Robert Gomez - "A Natural State"
45. Florene - "Parc Bitch"
44. Mount Righteous - "Eat Your Wife and Kiss The Barbecue"
43. The Strange Boys - "Be Brave"
42. Soft Environmental Collapse - "A Horse & Buggy Complex"
41. Deepspace5 - "Killing With Kindness"
40. Sextape -- "Lubricated Intimacy"
39. Museum Creatures - "Song ABC"
38. Ocelot - "Beating Hears"
37. Sir Silky - "The Squeeze (The Answer)"
36. Bone - "Homegurl"
35. Ishi - "Come Closer"
34. Hoyotoho - "Born Black"
33. Dorrough - "Get Big"
32. Katie Carroll - "Paper Girl"
31. Final Club - "Ruded"
30. Treal Lee & Prince Rick - "Throwed Off (Fuck Errbody)"
29. South San Gabriel - "All Night Long"
28. The Rocket Summer - "Walls"
27. Darktown Strutters - "Lucifer Rising"
26. School of Seven Bells - "Windstorm"
25. Damaged Good$ - "WEHATEDAMAGEDGOOD$TOO"
24. The Burning Hotels - "Austin's Birthday"
23. Doug Burr - "At The Public Dance"
22. The Flowers of God
21. Dondria -- "You're The One"
20. Sundress - "Locust"
19. Blixaboy - "Lion Eyes (featuring Emil Rapstine)"
18. A.Dd+ feat. Brown of Sore Losers - "Likeamug"
17. The Secret Handshake - "Every Single Time"
16. Lalagray - "The Hard Part"
15. Sore Losers - "Free Loaders"
14. Leg Sweeper - "Sexy Weekend"
13. Midlake - "Rulers, Ruling All Things"
12. Ryan Thomas Becker - "So Speak"