Posts Tagged ‘Will Toledo’

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Stef Chura sings “If only you can hear me scream” 10 full times on “Scream” before she, well, screams. Bizarrely, it’s one of the few instances on Midnight, Chura’s sophomore release and first full-length release on Saddle Creek, where she shows restraint, a fleeting respite for her vocal chords that take hit after hit throughout the entirety of the record’s 43 minutes. Howling throughout with a confident vibrato, it’s perhaps the most impressive raw vocal performance since Hop Along last put out an album, reminiscent at times of a young Karen O. A major step up from her 2017 debut Messes (which was reissued in 2018 by Saddle Creek), Midnight is the complete realization of the Detroit-based artist’s solo project, chock full of perfectly fuzzed-out guitars on one of the best-recorded DIY-leaning records in quite some time. That’s thanks in large part to Car Seat Headrest frontman Will Toledo, who helps mold Chura’s songs into ones that sound like his own. “Scream” resembles the song structure of Teens of Denial’s “Unforgiving Girl (She’s Not An),” though potentially even exceeding it as Chura’s guitar solo provides a fist-in-the-air moment before she brings the house down for one final chorus. Chura has been one of the more buzzed-about rising artists in the indie rock community for quite some time; Midnight more than delivers on that initial hype, surpassing virtually all expectations en route to becoming one of her genre’s biggest breakouts.

This an indie record for the ages, a wonderful listen where each song is completely essential to the project as a whole. Midnight is an incredible record, owing, but in no way indebted to her pitch perfect partnership with Toledo, one that’s further catapulted by Chura’s distinctive voice and extraordinary songwriting chops.

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Car Seat Headrest today announces Commit Yourself Completely – a new nine-track live album that will be released only via digital means June 17th. Culled from performances across the UK, US and France, the nine-track album spans material from 2016’s breakout Teens Of Denial and 2018’s reimagined epic Twin Fantasy – as well as the first officially released recording of longtime live staple ‘Ivy’ by Frank Ocean. A filmed version of the performance of ‘Fill In The Blank’ which appears on the album, recorded in Columbus, Ohio,

“This is a compilation of songs from shows we played in 2018,” says Will Toledo. “We recorded every show we did that year, and I went through about 50 of them to get the final tracklist for this album. This isn’t necessarily the best possible version of each track, but it’s some of the most fun we’ve had on stage. I particularly remember the show we did in the small French town of Amiens, maybe the smallest show we did that year, and how great it felt to be up in people’s faces with everyone plugging in to the music right away. The recordings we made of the shows came out very clean, so rather than try to artificially recreate how it sounded in the different venues night to night, I tried to give the whole album that in-your-face feeling, like we’re playing the songs right in front of you. When you’re onstage with everything happening at once, you never really know what it sounds like in the room anyways; all you know is how the music is feeling. Hopefully this will give you a sense of what these shows felt like.”

A snapshot of the 7-person lineup featuring members of Naked Giants experienced by crowds worldwide over the last two years, Commit Yourself Completely offers a visceral, loose and ebullient take on these much-loved songs, as well as an an incandescent capstone of a formative touring period as Car Seat Headrest readies his next studio album. Musicians featured on the album are Will Toledo (vocals), Seth Dalby (bass), Ethan Ives (guitar, vocals), Andrew Katz (drums, vocals), Grant Mullen (guitar, vocals) Gianni Aiello (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Henry LaVallee (additional percussion).

From Car Seat Headrest’s live album ‘Commit Yourself Completely’ released June 17th on Matador Records

‘Commit Yourself Completely’

Tracklist:

1. Cosmic Hero (Live at the Tramshed, Cardiff, Wales)
2. Fill In The Blank (Live at Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH)
3. Drugs With Friends (Live at La Lune des Pirates, Amiens, France)
4. Bodys (Live at La Lune des Pirates, Amiens, France)
5. Cute Thing (Live at O2 Forum Kentish Town, London, England)
6. Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales (Live at O2 Forum Kentish Town, London, England)
7. Destroyed By Hippie Powers (Live at the Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR)
8. Ivy (live at the Capitol Theater, Olympia, WA)
9. Beach Life-in-Death (Live at Crossroads, KC, Kansas City, MO)

Carseat Headrest

When Will Toledo, lead singer and artists behind Car Seat Headrest, was 19 he wrote and recorded an album. The album titled Twin Fantasy was a Bandcamp masterpiece, it was what Brian Eno describes as “the sound of failure”, an experiment pursued but never truly finished and finalised.

So what has Toledo done? He’s re-imagined and re-recorded it for all his fans who’ve loved it and for all those fans yet to meet it. It’s intelligent, self-indulgent, interesting but above all else it is a step nobody expected Will Toledo and his band to make. Re-creating an album, not only aligns himself with his ‘day-ones’ but also highlights his ability beyond what the mainstream knew. The boy was prodigal. A simple foot step can sometimes feel like a giant leap, ask Neil Armstrong.

And now you can stream the entirety of the album including brilliant cuts ‘Cute Thing’ and ‘Beach Life In Death’. The album hinges on the juxtaposition of these two tracks. One; a meandering wander through adolescent anxiety and the other a hormonal hump-athon. These two themes continue to battle through a young Toledo’s work, as one imagine it did during the original recording. That’s how it appears to the audience. Fully prepared with all it’s raging hormones the album skips genres, tempos, and textures to reach some kind of climax to befit an awkward and engaging adolescent.

But during the ride we are reminded, not only that Will Toledo was wise beyond his years, not only that re-recordings aren’t always terrible, but that “the sound of failure” can sometimes just be the starting gun.

In 2011 Car Seat Headrest, who were at the time essentially just Will Toledo, released an album called Twin Fantasy—one of dozens he’d uploaded to Bandcamp over the course of a year. It was a sprawling meditation on failed romance that hinted at artistic ambition beyond its maker’s years and budget. In 2018 Car Seat Headrest, now a bona fide band, are also releasing an album called Twin Fantasy, a re-recording of that 2011 LP that fleshes out the crude sketchings of the original into something ornate, enveloping, exhilarating, and dizzyingly complex. It is not only the best album in Toledo’s catalog, it is one of the young year’s best rock albums.

Toledo recently went to great pains on Twitter to stress the fact that Car Seat Headrest consists of four people, not one, and he was right to do so; Twin Fantasy wouldn’t work nearly as well as it does without the contributions of all its players. The 13-minute rollercoaster of “Beach Life-In-Death” is a master class in the slow build: Toledo’s voice and guitar enter first, operating at 100 miles an hour, then the whole song slams on the brakes; Seth Dalby’s bass bobs and weaves, Ethan Ives’ guitar claws away in the background, and Andrew Katz’s drums bash and clatter; then the whole band joins forces to push the song deeper into the red. Constructing rock songs with multiple melodic sections tends to feel like an intellectual exercise, but the way the band members play off one another in “Beach Life” makes each segment feel like a natural progression rather than a patched-together assemblage of mismatched parts. They also know when to pull back: In the song’s second section, the instruments recede so Toldeo can wonder aloud, “It’s been a year since we first met/ I don’t know if we’re boyfriends yet.”

That line serves as an early entrypoint into the record’s primary concerns. Twin Fantasyis an album about romantic relationships—and there are enough textual clues to suggest it’s mostly about one very specific romantic relationship. But it’s also about the ways that artists create fictional worlds and characters as a way to get in touch with real-life emotions, or to exert control over situations that, in their own lives, are uncontrollable. In the 2011 version of “Nervous Young Inhumans,” there was a spoken-word passage that’s excised on the re-recording, in which Toledo cites Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as an inspiration, saying, “I used the term ‘galvanistic’ to allude to that book as a symbol of how I created you as a character. I’m pretending that I know a lot more about you than I actually do.” Even the language Toledo uses there is slippery, the two versions of ‘you’—the real and the fictional—used interchangeably, blurring the distance between them. (In the new version, he uses a more potent metaphor to accomplish the same ends: “Do you know about Jesus? Do you really know? All you know is what you’ve been told.”) And while Twin Fantasy is, on some level, about a doomed romantic relationship, it’s also about the ways we take those heartbreaks and build stories around them. That it’s about both, simultaneously, is one of the things that make Twin Fantasy such a head-spinning triumph. In the exuberant “Bodys,” just as the song is gaining momentum, Toledo pauses to explicitly acknowledge the song as a construct, asking, “Is it the chorus yet? No. It’s just the building of the verse, so when the chorus does come, it will be more rewarding.” That kind of metatextual, commenting-on-the-form-while-the-form-is-in-progress has been attempted in film—think of Imamura’s A Man Vanishes or the end of Taste of Cherry—and while there’s no shortage of satirical rock albums poking fun at the industry, what Toledo is attempting here is something more philosophical, a deep-dive textual examination that borders on semiotics.

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All of this doesn’t make Twin Fantasy sound like very much fun, so let me stop here to say: it is a hell of a lot of fun, a big, rocketing collection of rock songs that balances Kinks-like vocal harmonies with knotty, virtuosic guitar work and choruses as vast and clear as a summer sky. And while much of Fantasy’s existential detective work is around Toledo the narrator, musically Twin Fantasy is very much about Car Seat Headrest, the band. “Nervous Young Inhumans” is a dazzling rush of adrenaline, Ives’s upward-spiraling guitar line giving the song a sense of jubilance and weightlessness. (If you want to truly appreciate the difference the band makes, compare this to the 2011 version, which felt blurry and unmoored.)  “Famous Prophets”—which clocks in at 16 minutes—earns its triumphant crescendo, the band gently stoking the tension until the whole song explodes.

But even in the album’s rapturous moments, its underlying preoccupations seep through. On “Beach Life,” Toldeo writes and rewrites his own biography: “I pretended I was drunk when I came out to my friends,” he sings, then immediately contradicts that narrative: “I never came out to my friends.” At the end of the bruising, hooky-as-hell, bash-and-pop anthem “Cute Thing,” he sings, “I accidentally spoke his first name aloud/ trying to make it fit in with the lyrics of ‘Ana Ng,’/ worked like a charm,” and then launches into a modified version of that They Might Be Giants song (Hopefully, Johns Flansburgh and Linnell are less litigious than Ric Ocasek.) And so we’re back to where we started: a real person inserted into pop song about a fake person to further mask their identity.

If there’s a final takeaway for Twin Fantasy it comes in the closing moments of the title track, when Toledo breaks the fourth wall one last time to speak to the object of his affections in a moment that recalls the introduction to Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear. “This is the end of the song,” he says, then adds, “And it is just a song. This is a version of me and you that can exist outside everything else. And if it is just a fantasy, then anything can happen from here. The names have been changed. So pour one out, whoever you are. These are only lyrics now.” That final phrase is a provocative one: when we embellish lived experience for the purposes of art—or, hell, even our own memories—which version becomes the real one? And does the “real” one even matter anymore? Or are reality and art just parallel versions—twin fantasies—of the same narrative we keep telling ourselves?

In “Beach Life-In-Death,” Toledo despairs, “I spent a week in Ocean City/ and came back to find you were gone/ I spent a week in Illinois/ and came back to find you were still gone.” In “Twin Fantasy,” he revisits those verses, but this time, the outcome is different: “When I come back, you’ll still be here/ When I come back, you’ll still be here.” It scans like Toledo going back into his own story, fixing the parts he didn’t like. He’s doing the same thing with Twin Fantasyon a macro level, revisiting a collection of songs that deserved more than he was able to give it at the time. The result is a blistering rock record of tremendous scope and heft, richly detailed and overflowing with memorable melodies. It is Car Seat Headrest’s first masterpiece.

Though this magnificent fragment of Will Toledo’s brain technically debuted on the nether-regions of Bandcamp back in 2011, the Twin Fantasy rework is nothing short of exquisite. If every rock song was this immaculate, we’d call it “gold” instead of “rock.” One reason it’s so fantastic is the song’s percussive underbelly: A swarm of pedal effects, drum loops and good ol’ fashioned kit noise carry the song through its near-seven minutes, as Toledo talks us through the song like a math problem, asking, “Is it the chorus yet?.” For all its magnificent sonic arrangements, though, the lyrics are even heftier, a testament to love, life and the fragility of the vessels that hold it all together: “Don’t you realize our bodies could fall apart any second?”

Thanks to Bandcamp J. Edward Keyes

The 17-minute Tidal film gives an insight to Will Toledo and his bandmates’ world as they talk the project, as well as featuring rehearsal footage. Car Seat Headrest released a rerecorded version of their 2011 album Twin Fantasy earlier this year,

Car Seat Headrest’s reworked album Twin Fantasy is now available in full. Originally released on Bandcamp in 2011, the album represents the culmination of the band’s early years in Virginia, where songwriter Will Toledo cultivated much of the project’s internet acclaim. So far, songs like “Beach Life-In-Death” and “Nervous Young Inhumans” have seen a bigger, more fleshed-out sound thanks to the folks at Matador Records.

The band recently took a break from their rigorous touring schedule to be featured in a new mini-documentary affectionately titled I Haven’t Don’t Sh*t This Year. While it was originally announced as a Tidal exclusive, the mini-doc has found its way onto YouTube, where fans can watch roughly 17 minutes of the band chatting about the origins of the project, as well as some rehearsal footage from a practice space in preparation for more shows later this year.

The new ‘Twin Fantasy’ released February 16th on Matador Records. Available now:

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On the back of a triumphant UK tour and sold-out show at London’s Roundhouse, Car Seat Headrest has announced a live return to the UK in November for his biggest headline shows to date.

The four-date run will see the band performing in Cardiff, Nottingham and Manchester, culminating in a headline show at London’s O2 Brixton Academy on November 8, before continuing to further European dates.

The band will be bringing the expansive sound of their new album Twin Fantasy – a re-recorded, re-imagined version of Car Seat Headrest’s 2011 classic – to the stage, the band has expanded to a seven-piece, featuring two drummers, three guitarists, a bassist, and Will Toledo confidently stepping into centre stage as frontman.

Car Seat Headrest performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded April 24th, 2018.

Songs: Uncontrollable Urge Fill In The Blank Sober To Death / Powderfinger Bodys

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Will Toledo always knew he would return to Twin FantasyHe never did complete the work. Not really. Never could square his grand ambitions against his mechanical limitations. Listen to his first attempt, recorded at nineteen on a cheap laptop, and you’ll hear what Brian Eno fondly calls “the sound of failure” – thrilling, extraordinary, and singularly compelling failure. Will’s first love, rendered in the vivid teenage viscera of stolen gin, bruised shins, and weird sex, was an event too momentous for the medium assigned to record it.

Even so, even awkward and amateurish, Twin Fantasy is deeply, truly adored. Legions of reverent listeners carve rituals out of it: sobbing over Famous Prophets, making out to Cute Thing, dancing their asses off as Bodys climbs higher, higher. The distortion hardly matters. You can hear him just fine. You can hear everything. And you can feel everything: his hope, his despair, his wild overjoy. He’s trusting you – plural you, thousands of you – with the things he can’t say out loud. I pretended I was drunk when I came out to my friends, he sings – and then, caught between truths, backtracks: I never came out to my friends. We were all on Skype, and I laughed and changed the subject.

You might be imagining an extended diary entry, an angsty transmission from a bygone LiveJournal set to power chords and cranked to eleven. You would be wrong. Twin Fantasy is not a monologue. Twin Fantasy is a conversation. You know, he sings, that I’m mostly singing about you. This is Will’s greatest strength as a songwriter: he spins his own story, but he’s always telling yours, too. Between nods to local details – Harper’s Ferry, The Yellow Wallpaper, the Monopoly board collecting dust in his back seat – he leaves room for the fragile stuff of your own life, your own loves. From the very beginning, alone in his bedroom, in his last weeks of high school, he knew he was writing anthems. Someday, he hoped, you and I might sing these words back to him.

Early next year, Car Seat Headrest will release a new version of Twin Fantasy. “It was never a finished work,” Will says, “and it wasn’t until last year that I figured out how to finish it.” He has, now, the benefit of a bigger budget, a full band in fine form, and endless time to tinker.  According to him, it took eight months of mixing just to get the drums right. But this is no shallow second take, sanitized in studio and scrubbed of feeling. This is the album he always wanted to make. It sounds the way he always wanted it to sound.

It’s been hard, stepping into the shoes of his teenage self, walking back to painful places. There are lyrics he wouldn’t write again, an especially sad song he regards as an albatross. But even as he carries the weight of that younger, wounded Will, he moves forward. He grows. He revises, gently, the songs we love so much. In the album’s final moments, in those apologies to future me’s and you’s, there is more forgiveness than fury.

This, Will says, is the most vital difference between the old and the new: he no longer sees his own story as a tragedy. From the new ‘Twin Fantasy’ available February 16th on Matador Records

Car Seat Headrest, aka Will Toledo, has re-imagined and re-recorded his excellent 2011 Bandcamp masterpiece, Twin Fantasy, and it will come out on 16th February via Matador Records. It was a record Toldeo always knew he would return to (in fact it was part of his original deal with Matador), so far from a conventional re-recording, the follow up to 2016’s seismically brilliant Teens of Denial is a wholly revelatory, epic and visionary new work. With a seven-piece band in tow (including members of Naked Giants), Car Seat Headrest will bring its explosive and revelatory live show to Australia, Europe, and select West Coast cities through the first half of 2018.

The album announcement comes with the release of Nervous Young Inhumans and its accompanying video, which can be seen below. It is a frenetic, anthemic, split-screen choreographed crescendo that perfectly mirrors the album’s theme of duality.

Toledo always knew he would return to ‘Twin Fantasy’. He never did complete the work. Not really. Never could square his grand ambitions against his mechanical limitations. Listen to his first attempt, recorded at nineteen on a cheap laptop, and you’ll hear what Brian Eno fondly calls “the sound of failure” – thrilling, extraordinary, and singularly compelling failure. Will’s first love, rendered in the vivid teenage viscera of stolen gin, bruised shins, and weird sex, was an event too momentous for the medium assigned to record it.

Even so, even awkward and amateurish, ‘Twin Fantasy’ is deeply, truly adored. Legions of reverent listeners carve rituals out of it: sobbing over “Famous Prophets,” making out to “Cute Thing,” dancing their asses off as “Bodys” climbs higher, higher. The distortion hardly matters. You can hear him just fine. You can hear everything. And you can feel everything: his hope, his despair, his wild overjoy. He’s trusting you – plural you, thousands of you – with the things he can’t say out loud. “I pretended I was drunk when I came out to my friends,” he sings – and then, caught between truths, backtracks: “I never came out to my friends. We were all on Skype, and I laughed and changed the subject.”

You might be imagining an extended diary entry, an angsty transmission from a bygone LiveJournal set to power chords and cranked to eleven. You would be wrong. ‘Twin Fantasy’is not a monologue. ‘Twin Fantasy’ is a conversation. “You know,” he sings, “that I’m mostly singing about you.” This is Will’s greatest strength as a songwriter ; he spins his own story, but he’s always telling yours, too. Between nods to local details – Harper’s Ferry, The Yellow Wallpaper, the Monopoly board collecting dust in his back seat – he leaves room for the fragile stuff of your own life, your own loves. From the very beginning, alone in his bedroom, in his last weeks of high school, he knew he was writing anthems. Someday, he hoped, you and I might sing these words back to him.

“It was never a finished work,” Toledo says, “and it wasn’t until last year that I figured out how to finish it.” He has, now, the benefit of a bigger budget, a full band in fine form, and endless time to tinker. According to him, it took eight months of mixing just to get the drums right. But this is no shallow second take, sanitized in studio and scrubbed of feeling. This is the album he always wanted to make. It sounds the way he always wanted it to sound.

It’s been hard, stepping into the shoes of his teenage self, walking back to painful places. There are lyrics he wouldn’t write again, an especially sad song he regards as an albatross. But even as he carries the weight of that younger, wounded Toledo, he moves forward. He grows. He revises, gently, the songs we love so much. In the album’s final moments, in those “apologies to future me’s and you’s,” there is more forgiveness than fury.

This, Toledo says, is the most vital difference between the old and the new: he no longer sees his own story as a tragedy.

He’s not alone no more.

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For a singer who’s sought privacy in the parking lot of a Target so he could record vocals in the backseat of his car, Will Toledo hasn’t been shy about sharing his work. By age 23, he’d already released a dozen albums. Toledo, who records under the name Car Seat Headrest, is prolific but never conventional. He performed this Tiny Desk Concert mostly solo — with occasional input from his nearby Leesburg, Va., friends and Seattle band mates — for a set that represents only a tiny sliver of what you’ll find on a Car Seat Headrest album. Those records can be filled with rich textures, chaos and harmony, sometimes in the same few minutes. But what you’re about to discover here is a wordsmith with a vision, wrapping his faults and frailties in a DIY sound that’s still finely crafted. Teens Of Style is available now

Set List: “The Drum” “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” “Sober To Death”

You may recall that Car Seat Headrest released an alternative mix of “War Is Coming (If You Want It)” as part of Bandcamp’s Transgender Rights Benefit a few weeks back. The official version of the single is now out and main man Will Toledo says simply, “This is a song about not murdering people.” Bandcamp proceeds of this new version will continue to go towards the Transgender Law Center .

Car Seat Headrest, who recently played festivals in Osheaga and Lollapalooza are currently on tour in Europe,

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Will Toledo: Vocals, synths
Ethan Ives: Guitar
Seth Dalby: Bass
Andrew Katz: Drums

photo by kris fuentes cortes

Car Seat Headrest have shared an acoustic cover of the Smiths classic song “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore.” A representative for the band have confirmed the legitimacy of the recording. In addition to his own output singer-songwriter Will Toledo has covered some of rock’s biggest names. Last year, alongside his stellar album “Teens Of Denial” album, he offered updates on David Bowie’s “Blackstar” Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android, and Sufjan Stevens’ “Impossible Soul” .

Take a listen below. The song originally appeared on the Smiths’ second album, Meat is Murder, released in 1985. Last month, Car Seat Headrest toured the UK behind their excellent 2016 album “Teens Of Denial” , which was one of our best albums of 2016 .