The Best Songs in Dallas Music, 2010: The Old 97's Drum Up Some Of Their Old Magic at No. 8

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[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. 8 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 Nos. 50-9 in the Top 50 list that will update as it grows...]

After a handful of albums in which the Old 97's toyed perhaps a little too intently with the full-on pop side of their pop-leaning tunes, the band finally released an album this year that brought them back to what they do best -- hard-charging, hootin'-and-hollerin'-worthy alt-country.

The Grand Theatre, Vol. 1, released for New West in early October, is chock full of cuts that fit that description, from the impossible-to-remove-from-your-head "Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)" to the band's most progressive song to date, "Please Hold On While The Train Is Moving."

But on an album filled with the best songs the band has released in years -- which, in turn, pretty much makes the disc the undisputed best release that the legendary local band has released in a decade -- one song in particular stands out.

Stream: Old 97's -- "The Magician

Here's why: The last few discs from the 97's have, if nothing else, found the band seemingly uncertain of its place and its aim. Are they a country band? A rock band? A pop band? In short: No, they're none of the above.

Sure, there's elements of each of those directions in the 97's' sound; but whereas the last few discs found the band aiming for a more pop direction -- which, funny, was why we thought there was ever a need for frontman Rhett Miller to venture out for his solo albums in the first place -- this one finds the band embracing the genre tag it's fought for so long over the past few years. In the ramp-up to this disc's release, Miller admitted to us here at DC9 that he and hjs bandmates had come to grips with the 97's being called an alt-country band. Finally, right?

Maybe that admission was all the band needed. No need to fight their unquestioned opus, 1997's Too Far to Care, when you can embrace it. And that's what "The Magician" does, coming off like a perfect blend of classic songs "Timebomb" and "Barrier Reef."

No, it's not quite on par with those songs. But few songs in the 97's catalog -- or, for that matter, anyone else's -- are. And, hey, it's close enough to those songs' level.

And, considering how the 97's are coming up on 20 years together, that's more than anyone could have really expected from the band at this point. Which makes it that much more of an impressive accomplishment.

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"
24. The Burning Hotels - "Austin's Birthday"
23. Doug Burr - "At The Public Dance"
22. The Flowers of God 

feat. Sarah Jaffe
feat. Sarah Jaffe

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"
11. Analog Rebellion - "You've Been Had (Machine)"
10. Mind Spiders -- "Worlds Destroyed"
9. Kimberly -- "Sociopath"
8. Old 97's -- "The Magician"
7. ????????
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3. ????????
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