The Best Songs in Dallas Music, 2009: Telegraph Canyon and "Shake Your Fist" Figure It Out at No. 1

[Editor's Note: Over the past couple of weeks, I've been presenting my favorite local songs of the year, counting down from No. 25 to No. 1, one track a day. Today we end the journey and take an in-depth look at song No. 1 on the list--and, please, feel free to click after the jump for a free download of the track. Also after the jump, check out songs No. 40-2 in the Top 40 list that will update as it grows...]

No. 1: Telegraph Canyon -- "Shake Your Fist"

telegraphcanyonbasshall.jpg
Jill Johnson
Telegraph Canyon runs through sound-check before its chilling Bass Hall performance earlier this year.

Oh, c'mon, like you're surprised? Surely, you knew this was coming...

Bonus mp3: Telegraph Canyon -- "Shake Your Fist"

The most impressive track off the most impressive area album release of 2009, Telegraph Canyon's "Shake Your Fist" is, in many ways a statement song.

In 2007, the band released its fine, and very promising, full-length debut, All The Good News. A beautiful release in its own right, that record found the then-relatively young act showcasing an impressive understanding of its chosen baroque folk-rock genre. But, with this year's The Tide and The Current and its phenomenal, dirty-at-times-and-spare-at-others production from Centro-matic's Will Johnson, the band showed off just how far it had come with two more years of growth behind it. And its release, in turn, formally introduced songwriter and frontman Chris Johnson as one of the area's finest songsmiths and announced his seven-piece band as one of the best acts around.

And nowhere else is either Johnson's or the band's capabilities more evident than on the vast "Shake Your Fist." With its varied arrangement (which finds the band comfortably existing in both the loudest and quietest ends of the sonic spectrum) and almost gaudy instrumentation (from guitars and organs to bells and violins--and pretty much everything else in between), "Shake Your Fist" serves as a five-minute journey into the ups-and-downs of adoration--and the frustrations that come with it. Lyrically and sonically, that message is passionately and appropriately conveyed: From the anthemic singalong chorus to the spare bridges that quietly connect each of those loud moments to their follow-up verses, the song gives is a stylistic roller coaster of sorts. But what a ride it is. And though Johnson and his band repeatedly warn of the dangers of this way of life, the band defiantly and swiftly avoids these pitfalls. "I won't follow you down, screaming off the rails," the band decries with each chorus. As promised, they never do.

Instead, they collectively uplift us.

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"
22. PVC Street Gang -- "Cutlass" (video)
21. Air Review -- "Jura"
20. Xrabit & Damaged Good$ -- "Follow the Leader" (video)
19. Doug Burr -- "The Righteous Will Rejoice"
18. Seryn -- "We Will All Be Changed"
17. galleryCat -- "Say Say Say"
16. Sunnybrook -- "Waving Hands"
15. The O's -- "You've Got Your Heart"
14. Ishi -- "Pastel Lights"
13. Binary Sunrise -- "Five Minutes"
12. The Paper Chase -- "What Should We Do With Your Body? (The Lightning)"
11. Fergus & Geronimo -- "Tell It In My Ear"
10. Max Moon -- "Urban Outfitters"
9. Neon Indian -- "Deadbeat Summer"
8. Bosque Brown -- "This Town"
7. Dorrough -- "Ice Cream Paint Job"
6. RTB2 -- "When Hammer Hits Stone"
5. VEGA -- "No Reasons"
4. Sore Losers -- "Bizarre Celebrations (Fizzy Dino Pop Remix)"
3. St. Vincent -- "Marrow" (video)
2. Teenage Cool Kids -- "Foreign Lands"
1. Telegraph Canyon -- "Shake Your Fist"
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