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Chris Ward's Photo I'm the Director of Marketing and Communications for KDHX. And I love music.

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Chris Ward’s top 10 tracks of 2011 (streaming MP3 edition)

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I consider myself an album guy, but this year it just didn’t work out that way. Actually, it didn’t work out that way last year either. My god, does the MP3 generation have its hooks in me, too?

10. “The Dude” – SimplyEsoteric (from the album “No Choking”)

I’ll admit: David Arthur’s band name put me off at first. And a timid, wistful lead track about the Big Lebowski should not, in any universe, work. But it’s a pleasant surprise, and my introduction to the big-hearted songwriting of a prolific St. Louis artist who, sadly, is moving back to Austin. He leaves behind at least one new fan, and one great cover of Jon Hardy’s “Cassius Clay.” Catch ya on down the trail, David.

9. “Thunder on the Mountain” – Wanda Jackson (from the album “The Party Ain’t Over”)

And DeVotchKa thought it had “Best Horn Hook of 2011″ locked up with “Contrabanda.” The Queen of Rockabilly gets Jack White’s “Loretta Lynn makeover” treatment and gives Bob Dylan’s original track a big kick in the ass at the same time. This track cooks.

8. “Some Children” – Holy Ghost feat. Michael McDonald (from the album “Holy Ghost”)

I’ve moved on, have you? I hated Michael McDonald. Then I loved him ironically. And now? Now I’m proud to call him a St. Louisan. Well, I am when it comes to tracks like this one anyway. Let’s not get crazy. There’s no shortage of blippy ’80s throwback disco music right now from the Indie Flavor of the Week, but this one bumps, baby. First Grizzly Bear and now a guest on a Holy Ghost! track? As trends go, I could stand one of these a year.

7. “Virginia” – David Bazan (from the album “Strange Negotiations”)

David Bazan remains one the most under-appreciated lyricists in music: from his challenging look at faith, to his snarling commentary on American politics, to his dark parables. The songs have always been deeply personal, but since Bazan stepped out of the Pedro the Lion moniker he’s been expressing himself less through invented characters (from cheating politicians to homicidal farmers) and more as simply David Bazan. And never more devastating, wonderful and sad then on “Virginia,” a song about a friend who recently passed. “Was it heaven or hell that you saw when your eyes closed? You smiled at us, floating high above the question. Like you knew something we didn’t know.”

6. “Sometimes at Night” – Jessica Lea Mayfield (from the album “Tell Me”)

Of the many incredible sessions I was lucky enough to witness at KDHX this year, this one stopped time for me. I swear to god when Ms. Mayfield sang, “I did not ask to be born with these eyes,” she looked at me for a flickering half-second, and I turned red and hid behind a wall. That’s how I remember it. This beautiful slow burner is vulnerable, honest and as sexy a song about female philandering as you’ll ever hear. I mean, she sounds ashamed. She is saying the words. But I don’t believe it, do you? She knows what she’s doing. That poor cabana boy!

Jessica Lea Mayfield “Sometimes at Night” Live at KDHX 5/13/11 by KDHX

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