Posts Tagged ‘Making a Door Less Open’

Car Seat Headrest Makes an Album for Arenas, But Loses Itself in the Process

When Car Seat Headrest began their opening set at Madison Square Garden in February 2019, they opened with “Can’t Cool Me Down,” a then-unreleased song that built up to a cheeky refrain: “Hey we’re not supposed to be here!” But, by all accounts, the indie rock band has long sounded like an arena act—complete with booming drums and squealing guitar intros and outros.

By many measures, Car Seat Headrest’s new album Making a Door Less Open, their fourth for Matador Records and 12th overall, sounds like the sort of record that could play well in large rooms like Madison Square Garden. It combines the ambitious live techniques they’ve honed over the last few years with newer electronic elements, like those on the revamped “Nervous Young Inhumans” from 2018’s Twin Fantasy redux. Making a Door Less Open may be an album seemingly made for arenas, but, unlike their past life-affirming, hands-in-the-air material, it doesn’t care to play to the nosebleeds.

That ambition is obvious on album opener “Weightlifters,” a song that puts the arena mentality front and center: “Put your heart on the target / They expect you to scream / Music blasts through the market / It’s the sound of the machines.” But instead of being like Dave Grohl and going on some lengthy diatribe about computers killing rock ‘n’ roll, Toledo embraces those sounds—glowing synths abound on “Weightlifters,” where hip-hop drum machines provide the backbone on skeletal lead single “Can’t Cool Me Down.”

In some cases it works. “Weightlifters” and “Can’t Cool Me Down” sound fresh despite lacking the cathartic choruses that made the band’s first three Matador releases, particularly Teens of Denial, so damn loveable. They represent a successful sonic experiment. “Life Worth Missing” offers a nice middle ground between the new and old Car Seat Headrest as shimmering synths build to a rousing finish.

The more traditional Car Seat Headrest songs are actually the less interesting bunch on Making a Door Less Open. “There Must Be More Than Blood,” a track that features the same squealing guitar jams that were prevalent between songs on their 2018 tour, doesn’t really go anywhere across its seven minute run time. “Martin” glimmers with a clean, upbeat acoustic guitar, and it could be the most approachable song Toledo’s ever written (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it still leaves something to be desired).

Worst of all is “Hollywood,” a “how did this make the album?!” head scratcher on what could’ve been their mainstream breakthrough. Knowing Car Seat Headrest’s discography, you might assume the cliché guitar riffs and incredibly bland anti-Hollywood lyrics (“Hollywood makes me want to puke” is unforgivable) are some sort of tongue-in-cheek dig at alt-rock radio, but it works only about as well as Arcade Fire’s Everything Now lowlight “Chemistry,” another song that unsuccessfully played with irony. Each line throughout “Hollywood” is horrendous, from “Sick of drinking / Sick of drugs / Sick of fucking” to “They don’t talk about the 12 year olds on pills waking up in beds of big producers.”

The lyrics throughout Making a Door Less Open aren’t as indefensible as those on “Hollywood,” but they’re rarely as relatable as anything they’ve released prior. Gone are the lines like “You have no right to be depressed / You haven’t tried hard enough to like it / Haven’t seen enough of this world yet / But it hurts, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts.” Instead, Toledo’s songwriting is streamlined too much, which has adverse effects on the album itself. With fewer refrains and memorable melodies to latch onto than ever before, the lyrics, which find Toledo grappling with fame and deteriorating relationships, revert to well-worn rock ‘n’ roll territory, not really offering anything new.

All that said, Toledo is frequently frustrated with listeners, particularly critics, ingesting his lyrics as autobiographical, as this New York Times profile suggests. He’s currently attempting to occupy a new gasmask-wearing alter-ego named Trait, referencing his frankly unlistenable comedy-EDM/rap side project with drummer Andrew Katz called 1 Trait Danger. But it’s tough to figure out how the two projects interact on Making a Door Less Open: The concept—could this be a concept album?—is simply vague at best, made even more confusing with at least two separate tracklists.

There’s a very real chance this would all make more sense with the new, deconstructed live set the band has been talking up for quite some time. But because of the coronavirus-induced concert shutdown, we may have to judge the album solely on the recording rather than the theatrical live set it was apparently made for. And that’s a shame, because Making a Door Less Open isn’t as memorable as its predecessors on its own: Toledo’s vision as a whole never feels truly fleshed out, representing the first legitimate misfire in the career of one of this generation’s most talented indie-rock songwriters.

Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest have shared “There Must Be More Than Blood,” the latest song from their forthcoming album Making a Door Less Open. The song is a lengthy one, clocking in at around seven-and-a-half minutes. The new album will be out next week and the band has shared another new song off of it. It follows the singles “Hollywood,” “Martin,” and “Can’t Cool Me Down.” Below, find the official song and acoustic version, performed by Will Toledo’s alter ego Trait, the album’s protagonist, who was wearing a mask before it was cool. The chorus: “There must be more than blood that holds us together/ There must be more than wind that takes us away/ There must be more than tears when they pull back the curtain/ There must be more than fear.”All of them are good. Spoiler alert: The whole album is good! But we’ll have more to say on that later. In the meantime, here is one more good song to pique your interest.

Making a Door Less Open is out May 1st (via Matador) and marks the first studio album from Toledo and co. since the release of Twin Fantasy in 2018. Last year, the band also released the live album Commit Yourself Completely.

The band’s leader, Will Toledo, planned to conduct business for his entire album cycle in a modified gas mask. He planned this (you guessed it), before the pandemic. “It was supposed to be sort of an exotic alternative to reality — like a challenge, I guess, to normal life,” Toledo said. “And now it just feels a lot more pointed in a way that I wasn’t planning on and don’t really take any pleasure in.” That new album, “Making a Door Less Open,” is a very different type of record for this indie-rock band with such a fervent fan base.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

Car Seat Headrest (aka Will Toledo and band) are releasing a new album, Making a Door Less Open on May 1st via Matador Records. Now they have shared another song from it, “Martin,” via a lyric video for the track. Previously Car Seat Headrest shared the album’s first single, “Cool Me Down.” 

Car Seat Headrest’s last album, Twin Fantasy, came out in 2018 via Matador. It was a re-imagined version of an album also titled Twin Fantasy that Toledo self-released to Bandcamp in 2011. But his last album of completely new material was 2016’s Teens of Denial. In 2019 the band also released the live album Commit Yourself Completely.

As well as Toledo, the band features Andrew Katz (drums), Ethan Ives (guitar), and Seth Dalby (bass). Making a Door Less Open had a somewhat unique recording process. In a press release it is billed as a collaboration between Car Seat Headrest and 1 Trait Danger, a Car Seat Headrest “electronic side project consisting of drummer Andrew Katz and Toledo’s alternative persona, ‘Trait.’” The album was recorded twice, first with guitars, bass, and drums and then secondly with purely synthesized sounds. Then in the mixing process the two recordings were combined.

Toledo had this to say about the album on the band’s website: “This album was made from January 2015 to December 2019, starting as a collection of vague ideas that eventually turned into songs. I wanted to make something that was different from my previous records, and I struggled to figure out how to do that. I realized that because the way I listened to music had changed, I had to change the way I wrote music, as well. I was listening less and less to albums and more and more to individual songs, songs from all over the place, every few days finding a new one that seemed to have a special energy. I thought that if I could make an album full of songs that had a special energy, each one unique and different in its vision, then that would be a good thing.

Andrew, Ethan, Seth and I started going into the studio to record songs that had more finished structures and jam on ideas that didn’t. Then I would mess with the recordings until I could see my way to a song. Most of the time on this album was spent shuttling between my house and Andrew’s, who did a lot of the mixing on this. He comes from an EDM school of mixing, so we built up sample-heavy beat-driven songs that could work to both of our strengths.

“Each track is the result of an intense battle to bring out its natural colors and transform it into a complete work. The songs contain elements of EDM, hip hop, futurism, doo-wop, soul, and of course rock and roll. But underneath all these things I think these may be folk songs, because they can be played and sung in many different ways, and they’re about things that are important to a lot of people: anger with society, sickness, loneliness, love…the way this album plays out is just our own interpretation of the tracks, with Andrew, Ethan and I forming a sort of choir of contrasting natures.

“I think my main hope for the world of music is that it will continue to grow by taking from the past, with a consciousness of what still works now. Exciting moments in music always form at a crossroads -a new genre emerges from the pieces of existing ones, an artist strips down a forgotten structure and makes something alien and novel. If there is a new genre emergent in our times, it has not yet been named and identified, but its threads come from new ways of listening to all types of music, of new methods of creating music at an unprecedented level of affordability and personal freedom, of new audiences rising up through the internet to embrace works that would otherwise be lost, and above all from the people whose love of music drives them to create it in the best form they possibly can. Hopefully it will remain nameless for some time, so it can be experienced with that same newness and strangeness that accompanies any and all meaningful encounters with music.”

Csh lp color

No photo description available.

Car Seat Headrest return with ‘Making a Door Less Open’ on Matador Records this 1st May! Limited pink vinyl available! . The band Car Seat Headrest has announced his new album. The follow up to 2016’s Teens of Denial, Alongside the news, Car Seat Headrest, aka Will Toledo, has shared the album’s lead single “Can’t Cool Me Down”. The album sees Toledo adopt a new persona, known as ‘Trait.’

The new Car Seat Headrest album sounds like quite the trip. Will Toledo recorded it twice — once as Car Seat Headrest and again as his alter ego, an electronic musician named “Trait.” “Can’t Cool Me Down” is the first taste and it’s immediately clear things are a little different to normal. Gone are the epic rock landscapes crafted with guitars and endless drums and in their place is a sparse but magnetic ‘80s electro-pop tune.