Toad Top 20 Albums 2008: 1-5

Meursault

1. Meursault – Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues

I know I can’t be objective with regards to this album, but believe me I am being honest when I tell you that it is the best thing I’ve heard all year.  Whether it’s the obvious hits, the peculiar interludes, the perfect blend of pop songs and experimental electronica, or the trajectory and integrity of the album as a whole, I don’t think I’ve heard better than this for years.
Meursault – Salt Pt.1
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/sbt/Meursault-SaltPart1.mp3]

Felice Brothers

2. The Felice Brothers – The Felice Brothers

A warmer, more immediately emotional album I couldn’t really imagine.  The voice and the slow pace are so rich and arresting that you find yourself overcome by sadness almost immediately, and that hold on your emotions is never once loosed for forty minutes.
Felice Brothers – Greatest Show on Earth
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/sbt/TheFeliceBrothers-GreatestShowonEarth.mp3]

Langhorne Slim

3. Langhorne Slim – Langhorne Slim

Of this top five, all but the Felice Brothers have firmly enhanced their reputations with me with superb live performances.  With Langhorne Slim it wasn’t the emotive power of bands like Meursault, Shearwater or the Low Lows, it was sheer charm.  Sean Scolnick delivered his songs with such easy charisma that you just couldn’t help but warm to him.  Like Barton Carroll, this is an album whose style is far from revolutionary – more a familiar mish-mash of  what I would vaguely describe as Americana.  That familiarity is something which turns out to be a bonus in the end though, as the album worms its way under your skin like few others.
Langhorne Slim – Diamonds & Gold
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/sbt/LanghorneSlim-DiamondsandGold.mp3]

Rook

4. Shearwater – Rook

Occasionally beautiful, but often thunderous, this album was an immediate success with me, building up to all sorts of crescendos oozing a ferocity you rarely expect.  I still don’t know if it’s the loveliest or the angriest album of the year.
Shearwater – Leviathan, Bound
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/sbt/Shearwater-LeviathanBound.mp3]

Low Lows

5. The Low Lows – Shining Violence

This is another album I didn’t necessarily expect to find this high on the list when I first heard it, but for some reason it’s just grown and grown on me this year, while more highly anticipated records have kind of dropped away.  It broods and snarls, growling it’s tunes at you from behind a wall of reverb.
The Low Lows – This Modern Romance
[audio:http://www.matthewjamesyoung.com/sbt/TheLowLows-ModernRomance.mp3]

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