Release Date: Oct 30, 2015
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
Will Toledo: a name (part pseudonym) that you’re unlikely to be familiar with unless you’re from the small town of Leesburg, Virginia, where Toledo has been recording music at a staggering rate for years from the confines of his bedroom. Released via Bandcamp at giveaway prices (mostly decided by the buyers themselves), he’s clocked up a breathtaking 11 albums in the five years or so since he began at the age of 17. Toledo is now resident in Seattle where he’s recruited a bassist (Ethan Ives) and a drummer (Andrew Katz) to flesh out a full band.
Will Toledo isn't old, but he's feeling his age. He's in debt; his friends are getting married; his hands are frozen; he's stuck in the city; and worst of all, his songs are starting to sound the same. The world is moving past him, blurring into formlessness, and his music as Car Seat Headrest is an attempt to slow down and make sense of the rush. Teens of Style is technically a compilation, comprising songs dating back to 2011 that were re-recorded for his Matador debut.
Five years ago, a teenager who now goes both by Will Toledo and Car Seat Headrest was sitting in the back of the family car somewhere in Virginia, writing songs — a young man besotted with backwards-playback effects like John Lennon nearly half a century before him. Eleven self-made, Bandcamp-posted albums later, he's got a great backstory and an even better back catalog, which he's culled and reworked for his first old-fashioned LP release. It's the best classic-rock record anyone under 50 is likely to make this year.
Car Seat Headrest began as an outlet for Will Toledo's songs of youthful joy and frustration, often recorded in the back seat of the family car, hence the band name. After 11 albums' worth of material was released on Bandcamp over a four-year span, Matador Records caught wind of Toledo and signed him up. A pretty savvy move on their part because his songs capture the best aspects of many of the band's they've had on their roster at one point or another.
Will Toledo was one of the busier musicians at CMJ earlier this month when this year’s edition of the music marathon sprawled out across the Lower East Side and North Brooklyn for the better part of a week. One of what seemed like nearly a dozen shows that Car Seat Headrest played took place at Rough Trade, where Toledo began the band’s set lying flat on his back on stage, with the mic perched on an angled stand inches above his face. Aside from being an obvious photo op for the gathering audience (who were happy to oblige), the don’t-look-at-me-but-look-at-me gesture felt like a link in a long chain of semi-passive indie rock postures.
Will Toledo is a 23-year-old songwriter who sometimes sounds like he’s 30 and sometimes sounds like he’s 17. At all times, he sounds like he needs to unplug his computer and get out of the bedroom in which he presumably wrote most of the songs on Teens of Style, the Matador debut from his solo project-turned-band, Car Seat Headrest. Under that moniker, Toledo has released 11 albums on Bandcamp over the last four years, building up a passionate fanbase even as it became apparent that he was still learning from his mistakes.
Given that Teens of Style is a debut of sorts, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the record’s inherent looseness stems not from aesthetic decision, but lack of experience on the behalf of Car Seat Headrest. That couldn’t be further from the truth, however, at least not as far as front-man Will Toledo is concerned. Epitomising the very definition of DIY, Toledo has amassed a catalogue of 11 solo albums since 2010, and while Teens of Style is the first with both a full band and label backing, it doesn't feel particularly removed from previous efforts either.
Car Seat Headrest is the moniker of Will Toledo, a young Virginia musician who has been self-releasing albums on his Bandcamp page for years. He makes lo-fi, fuzzy pop-rock, with an emphasis on "lo." His first release for a label, Teens of Style, is a collection of reworked songs from his musical past, and he has an album of new material set to be released next year. Teens of Style is full of catchy pop nuggets that, despite their intentional roughness, sound like they are meant to be big and anthemic, and in fact most of them are.
Car Seat Headrest (né Will Toledo) has been cranking out commendable, although not entirely memorable, lo-fi bedroom pop for the past five years at an alarming rate. Toledo’s prolific output (11 self-released Bandcamp albums) is enough to make Robert Pollard raise a salty salute, but with Headrest’s 2015 release How To Leave Town, Toledo’s ambitions seemed to be outpacing his abilities. That’s why Teens Of Style is such a pleasant surprise; a sprawling, shambolic, post-everything revelation.
Car Seat Headrest — Teens of Style (Matador)&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://carseatheadrest. bandcamp. com/album/teens-of-style"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Teens Of Style by Car Seat Headrest&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Is it weird that Car Seat Headrest feels so fresh and full of potential when its front man Will Toledo has been feverishly laying down lo-fi pop for the last four years, cranking out an impressive 11 home-recorded albums in a Pollard-like fugue state, before Matador picked him up and dusted him off for commercial release? But yes, Teens of Style seems like the beginning, not the mass market middle or even the end-of-the-line sell-out for this frighteningly young singer songwriter, an intoxicating conglomeration of exuberant melody, existential agony and fuzz.
After releasing 11 albums on his own since 2010, Will Toledo — who records as Car Seat Headrest, mostly as a one-man studio band — has learned a lot about how songs are made. He’s a self-conscious, noisily introverted low-fi rocker who has clearly studied Beck, Weezer, Brian Wilson, Daniel Johnston and perhaps Guided by Voices. Like them, he confesses bleak thoughts in uplifting melodies.