Will Toledo – the voice and principle songwriter of Car Seat Headrest – is one of the most interesting figures in indie rock today. He started the band as a lo-fi solo project in 2010 and had self-published ten or so records before Matador signed him in 2015. The two most recent albums 2016’s Teens of Denial and 2018’s Twin Fantasy (Face to Face) both count among my favorite records of the past ten years. What sets Toledo’s music apart is a combination of attention to detail, complexity and empathy – all cut with sharp wit and a flair for language. Teens of Denial is an intensely personal record that is autobiographical as well as observational and focuses on the frustrations and depressions that are the hallmarks of contemporary society. Throughout the record he makes it clear to the listener that they are not crazy, others have been in this position and that it makes no sense that we pretend these pressures and postures don’t exist. Take for example the song “Vincent” (embedded below). The narrative proceeds from the speaker contemplating the ineffectual drugs he has tried for his depression “In the back of a medicine cabinet/You can find your life story/And your future in the side effects” and then finding Vincent van Gogh’s picture on the Wikipedia page for depression as he attempts to find some verbal or emotional context for what he is feeling. Moments like this are perfectly balanced with a complex musical structure that keeps the ear focused and reveals something of the character’s trajectory.
Twin Fantasy is a complete reworking of a solo record that Toledo released in 2011. For the new version he is able to combine the raw emotion of the original songs with the perspective of time without sacrificing the power of either position. I really like how deeply this record peers into the nature of songwriting. Here we have songs like “Bodys” (embedded below), which parallel the act of composition and nature of attraction especially the propensity for both the creative spark and the body to decay over time. The themes follow parallel paths of fear and excitement as they progress.
There is so much depth to these songs that carries into the live performances. Last time Toledo and company were in town was an early set at BUKU in 2017. Here we finally get a full club set from one of the truly great bands active today. You won’t want to miss this.
To Do This Week
Tonight Juice is at Gasa Gasa and Blackberry Smoke is at the Fillmore with Gucci Mane. Tomorrow, KISS is at the Smoothie King Center. Saturday, Hippy Sabotage is at the Joy. Monday, Post Animal and Ron Gallo are at Gasa while Cypress Hill and Hollywood Undead are at the Fillmore. Tuesday, Car Seat Headrest stop into Tipitina’s and on Wednesday The Suffers are at Gasa.
To Listen This Week
- Watch “A Last Supper” with score by Thom Yorke via Youtube
- Maren Morris and Brandi Carlile have a new collaborative single via Youtube
- Together PANGEA announce a new EP and single via CoS