Car Seat Headrest
December 10, 2015
Will Toledo, the twenty-two-year-old founder of and songwriting force behind Car Seat Headrest, has released twelve albums in the past five years, all via Bandcamp. All of those albums were self-recorded, including the most recent; all of those albums are free, except for the most recent: Teens of Style, Car Seat Headrest’s Matador debut.
On stage at Atlanta’s classic venue The EARL last week, Car Seat Headrest kicked things off with the near-fifteen-minute ebb-and-massive-flow of How to Leave Town opener “The Ending of Dramamine.” Unlike the album, the non-ebbs were played heavy heavy— heavy compared to anything they’ve recorded and also compared to anything else they played on stage Thursday night. The band’s sound otherwise remained as loyal as could be to the recordings. The song structures stayed intact and held faithful to the instrumental sprawls and extended bridges that help identify and define CSH’s catalogue. In his lyrics, Toledo talks more to himself than to an audience; the aforementioned How to Leave Town is a beautiful example of his conversational, ruminating approach to music, particularly on long-form songs like “I Want You To Know That I’m Awake / I Hope That You’re Asleep” and fan favorite “America (Never Been).”
This is a band to watch. Toledo’s songwriting, to me, is reminiscent of the early careers of folks like Jeff Tweedy and Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock—artists that, at first, relied more on instinct than experience. Toledo’s proficiency, consistency, and confident nonchalance have helped build Car Seat Headrest’s loyal fan base, and are all elements that he hopefully will not lose sight of anytime soon. He is young (on stage he sure looked it) and despite—or with the help of—his youth, he has the potential to become a mainstay. FL