Check out band Car Seat Headrest

Ryan Meyer

Will Toledo of the band Car Seat Headrest has been doing what I’ve wanted to do since I started playing music. Ever since he graduated high school, he has been releasing indie rock albums written to the beat of his own drum. In the early years of his career, he played all the instruments and recorded the vocals in the back of his car, hence the band name. He developed a cult following through the streaming platform Bandcamp, and when he released Teens of Style on Matador Records, the mainstream was ready to be introduced to the best he had to offer. They got it in 2016, with the album Teens of Denial. By now, Toledo had added a full band and was writing more accessible songs like “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales,” which the band performed on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Twin Fantasy, which Toledo originally released in 2011, was greatly appreciated upon its Bandcamp release, but when the band gave the whole album a makeover and released it again in 2018, people like me were fully introduced to Car Seat Headrest’s capabilities. I enjoyed Teens of Denial, and still remember when my dad first played it in the car because it sounded like his favorite band, the Replacements. He may have been on to something, because guitarist Ethan Ives has been known to wear a Replacements shirt onstage. “1937 State Park” was my favorite Car Seat Headrest song for a while because it was the first one I heard.

The band has some songs that any casual music fan can enjoy, and maybe even bop their heads to. But to really enjoy Car Seat Headrest’s music, you have to dive into the deep cuts, the songs Toledo was writing as a teenager going through the same college experiences we’ve all gone through. Those are the lyrical gems. And yes, the audio quality is poor, but that’s because he was as broke as the rest of us.

When I think Car Seat Headrest, the first word that comes to mind is “relatable.” I can relate to the words Toledo sings of anxiety, loneliness, and stress. I can relate to his willingness to throw a dissonant chord into a song where it makes no sense. It’s as if the fourteen minutes of “The Ending of Dramamine” or the sixteen minutes of “Famous Prophets (Stars)” are Toledo’s way of saying that he’ll do what he wants, thank you very much. And I respect that.

Car Seat Headrest recently released a new single, “Can’t Cool Me Down,” and announced a new album, to be released in May. This set me on a long kick of their music that I am just now coming down from. It was my first time binging their material as a college student, and it hit different. If midterms are getting to you, maybe this great band can act as a salve. It’s working for me.


Ryan Meyer is a freshman journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]