The Best Songs in Dallas Music, 2009: Sleep Whale's "Cotton Curls" Coos Its Way to No. 23.

[Editor's Note: Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be presenting my 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. 23 on the list--and click after the jump for a free download of the track. Lastly, keep checking back to see how the list pans out, and, also after the jump, check out songs No. 40-26 in the Top 40 list that will update as it grows...]

No. 23: Sleep Whale -- "Cotton Curls"

sleepwhalekarate.jpg
Gavin Guthrie
Sleep Whale kicks away any chance of you making "mom" jokes at its expense.
It was back in February that the news first broke: Mom was no more--well, in a way. Instead, it was decided, the music created by Denton musicians Joel North and Bruce Blay would now go under the name of Sleep Whale--named after a song from Mom's debut EP, Little Brite. But another change was soon evident as well: On Houseboat, the band's full-length debut released in November, North and Blay added vocals into the mix. And the group added a couple new members, too, in the forms of Paul North, Joel's younger brother (who releases solo material under the name of Sunnybrook), and friend Spencer Stephenson (who releases music under the name of Abacus).

The results of these changes: A more mature sound, for one. And a resounding cry announcing Sleep Whale as a major force to be reckon with in the area's deep indie rock field.

Bonus mp3: Sleep Whale -- "Cotton Curls"


The first single off Houseboat, "Cotton Curls" starts off similarly enough to Mom's output, incorporating found sound percussion into an alluring come-hither intro. But then, after a revving of the engines in the form of yet another, twisting found sound, the vocals come into play. Unlike "Green Echo," the almost Arcade Fire-like instrumental opening track on the album, this, the album's second track, finds the band fearlessly entering the world of vocal tracking--and succeeding brilliantly, thanks to incorporating the vocals into the mix with no more emphasis than the band puts on any other of its many sonic elements.

The result is a lush, and beautifully restrained, sound. And while Blay proves himself a capable frontman, Stephenson and the younger North similarly make good with their additions to the fold.

A bold release, "Cotton Curls" makes its mark both for its intricate arrangement and its heartwarming aesthetic, something Sleep Whale accomplishes with an ease that rightfully deserves to be envied by all other musical acts in North Texas, if not beyond.

The Top 40 Local Songs of 2009 (Links to music videos and free song downloads available where applicable; links to streams where neither a download nor video exists.)
40. The Wax Museums -- "Safety in Numbers"
39. Macon Greyson -- "Pushing Strings"
38. The Burning Hotels -- "Austin's Birthday" (video)
37. The Riverboat Gamblers -- "DissDissDissKissKissKiss" (video)
36. Salim Nourallah -- "Endless Dream Days"
35. The Phuss -- "Preacher, Preacher"
34. The Southern Sea -- "These Things Always End Badly"
33. Fungi Girls -- "Pacifica Nostalgia"
32. Giggle Party -- "Jason Bought a Hatchet" (video)
31. Carter Albrecht -- "Country Living" (stream)
30. This Old House -- "At Risk"
29. Occult Detective Club -- "You'll Follow Me" 
28. Bad Sports -- "Nothing But Agitation"
27. Darktown Strutters -- "Quakertown"
26. The Crash That Took Me -- "Patricia Lynn" (stream)
25. Red Monroe -- "Pat Mayse Lake"
24. Danny Balis -- "Tethered"
23. Sleep Whale -- "Cotton Curls"
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...and be sure to keep checking back, as this list will update daily.
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