Right off the top, for anyone who is a fan of alt-music, modern rock or indie rock styles, go out and buy Car Seat Headrest’s 2016 release, Teens Of Denial. It is one of those rarities these days where the entire disc is solid front-to-back. It’s probing, self-aware, smart and introspective about ‘coming of age’ incidents that shape how young adults evolve and the moments that leave scars. It ended up landing at No. 4 on Rolling Stone’s list of best albums from last year.
I don’t know a lot about this band except like many this generation, there is one guy actually behind it, in this case that individual is 25-year old Will Toledo. Car Seat Headrest got its name from Toledo’s DIY ethic of recording his early vocals after driving around to different spots in his hometown of Leesburg, VA, and climbing into the backseat with his computer for privacy. Toledo’s band already has 12 albums to its credit through the online music platform Bandcamp, giving Toledo and his band a decided Internet following.
Once signed to Matador Records in 2015, Car Seat Headrest began touring with a conventional band behind it, pushing songs that would end up appearing on Teens Of Denial. My introduction was through the song Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales. It gives an honest take on the quandary many teens and twenty-somethings face after ingesting sufficient drugs or alcohol to impair their abilities and are presented with the prospect of driving home in a state of “intoxicado.”
The vocals jumped out at me first. He sounds older, and that definitely speaks to Toledo’s old soul emerging outward through his creative songwriting. It has a tinge of Beck to it. This led me to check out the other tunes from this disc. They are uniquely crafted and musically arranged in a compelling fashion. The jingly guitar melodies and light choruses are reminiscent of the Beach Boys, but a decided anger lurks beneath that bursts through.
Definitely check out (Joe Gets Kicked Out Of School For Using) Drugs With Friends(But Says This Isn’t A Problem). Monster Tune!
I was super psyched to see these guys scheduled at Headliners Music Hall. This band was still on its way up, hungry, and ready to turn folks on to their vibe. The show was packed with younger folks and a few in-the-know older dudes such as myself. A great energy had filled the room fueled by copious consumption of drinks and such as the band hit the stage.
This was not a long show, 10 songs total, around about an hour, but full of fun.
This Virginia kid now resides in Seattle, and cut the look of a metropolitan intellectual in his black turtleneck, thick black glasses and slicked jet black pompadour. The show started off melodic with Unforgiving Girl (She’s Not An), and then jumped into full gear with Fill In The Blank, the lead song off Teens Of Denial.
The band hit all its current lo-fi pop hits, including Drunk Drivers and Drugs With Friends. It got jumpy and lightly combative near the stage throughout, exactly what one needs from an angsty crowd of Millennials.
This was the perfect show to serve as my first visit to Headliners and it will not be my last. Great venue! I highly recommend checking out Car Seat Headrest live or via recording. Hopefully new-found fame and success shall provide Will Toledo with plenty of writing fodder to explore his fascinating transformative experiences.