Tag Archives: Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest at ABC, 18/5/18

Where should you start off with Car Seat Headrest? Should your jumping off point be 2016’s breakthrough art rock of Teens of Denial? Do you take a step back and tackle their Matador debut Teens of Style? Or does completionism demand a complete tour of the roughly a dozen albums Will Toledo recorded in his bedroom and released to Bandcamp over the past few years?

The Car Seat Headrest main man has made the choice even more difficult by choosing to follow up the acclaimed Teens of Denialwith a reissue/reimagining of Twin Fantasy, one of the aforesaid bedroom albums from 2011, now given the full band treatment.

Whatever your point of entry to the discography of Car Seat Headrest  (great band, truly atrocious name), as you walk into the ABC and see the assembled masses, it’s clear that the American’s have become a legit phenomenon.

Opening with a cover of Talking Heads’ ultra-tight ‘Cross Eyed and Painless’, it’s a completely different set up to the lo-fi gang who slayed St Luke’s a year ago, with Toledo ditching guitar duties to take centre stage.

As Talking Heads fades away, he kicks off a staggering opening run through Twin Fantasy’s ‘Bodys’ and Teens of Denial’s scene setter ‘Fill in the Blanks’.

‘Bodys’ in particular shows off Toledo’s self-aware humour, casting himself as a bemused onlooker deadpanning “Is it the Chorus yet? No, it’s just the building of the verse so when the chorus does come, it’ll be more rewarding.”

Meanwhile his bandmates are total pros, kicking their way through punchy Cheap Trick power pop and scratchy Television breakdowns.

‘Drugs with Friends’ and the scathing ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’ deliver the sing-songs while a tentative cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘White Ferrari’ offers a moment of spontaneity

Amidst all this Toledo shakes his gangly frame, unspooling his limbs like he’s not quite sure where they’re going next.

He’s a long way from your typical rock god but when he sings “I wish I had James Brown’s stage presence” he’s got the whipsmart demeanour of a young David Byrne.

A lengthy, restarted ‘Beach Life in Death’ and a jittery ‘Nervous Young Inhumans’ close the show in a slightly disjointed fashion, but it’s remarkable to see the journey that Car Seat Headrest have taken over the past few years unfolding in front of you. яндекс

With Will Toledo in the driving seat, every stop on the journey is worth the ride.

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Words: Max Sefton

Electric Fields, Day 1, 1/9/17

Another year and another weekend at Electric Fields probably the best outdoor festival in Scotland just now and we definitely have the weather for it; I have the privilege of my own bed each night so don’t witness the late nights and early mornings, but for all the time the main arena is open not a drop of rain falls, a near miracle considering we’re in Scotland in September.

In fact as we arrive following a scenic drive down towards the picturesque Drumlanrig Castle we find a leisurely field and one of the most conveniently set up festivals you’ll find, it seems after last year’s fine tuning Electric Fields may have nailed its perfect set up.

Audibly a force to be reckoned with local boys Tiderays open the main stage with a wickedly rocking sound.

Their presence is informal, with a keen attempt to bond with their fans, they throw out a characteristically Scottish indie sound, so nonchalant they aren’t even sure of the name of some of their own songs, yet nevertheless a well constructed outfit.

Opening the festivals biggest tent, the Discover Stage, we find that Modern Studies are no longer playing, but have been replaced perfectly adequately with the well-honed singer-songwriter tendencies of Alex Maxwell.

Stepping up his game for the early arrivals Maxwell’s Scottish folk rock leanings with a bouncing alt rock touches are a nice thing to ease you into the festival atmosphere, his strong Scottish tones echo around the tent in an uplifting manner and after only making it here with minutes to spare (he reveals he only arrived seven minutes prior to his set), he sets us going nicely.

Local electronic indie act Onr. have a huge synth led rock sound that could easily squeeze into the mainstream with the sort of hooky tracks that the like of The 1975 would be proud of, and they have the perfect slot for it at second on the main stage just as people start to feed in from the campsite.

Their set is full of sky-scraping tracks that beg for a huge audience, add to that some hunks of 80s pop it seems they might have the right sound at the right time to achieve that.

A graceful display of simple sentiments, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever bring an addictive sound with a fierce, cohesive stage presence.

All the way from Australia, the guys all bounce their heads along in concert, while drummer, Marcel Tussie, shines in his ability to keep the pop-punk tempo.

Never before have I seen such a well matched group of musicians, they exude confidence, and rip up the Discover stage with their self acclaimed “punky jangle pop”.

Popping over to the Neu Reekie stage, a lovely set up that showcases some of the best poetic talent the country has to offer, before turning into Sneaky Pete’s ,the festival’s dance tent, at 7pm each night, I’m told the news that I’ve missed the local garage pop of Savage Mansion after they take an earlier slot than published on the Redeemer stage, however Louie & the Lochbacks quickly have me forgetting that.

It seems a while since I’ve seen Louie perform, and I’d almost forgot how much a commanding presence he holds, even without a full band behind him; today however he is joined by three of the strongest vocal talents in Scotland just now in Be Charlotte, Pronto Mama’s Ciaran McEneny and Stuart Ramage, formerly of Bella and the Bear now performing under VanIves, delivering a mainly acapella set with Louie’s sharp poetry on top.

It turns out that Louie has misplaced his book of poetry so he delivers a few classics and throws in a couple of Hector Bizerk numbers as a welcome treat to a few fans gathered in the audience, his strong Glaswegian accent lends a real grit that is essentially already their in his words, while the vocal trio deliver an angelic and warming back drop.

Adding a touch of guitar Be Charlotte takes centre stage to being a chirpy number before Louie comes back in on full pelt rap, it’s an impressive set from some of the most talented people in Scottish music just now.

Over at the main stage the crowd seem a bit subdued for Marnie‘s set but the sound coming for the stage sparkles with synth pop brilliance.

Helen Marnie’s tones are coated is sultry pop brilliance while powerful drums and euphoric synths engulf the field, it’s effortlessly cool breezy electronic music that chills as much as it gets you going and the perfect set for the sunny afternoon.

Nothing has a churning rock sound and a non-giving energy that is just explosive.

They’re well documented at having a rather troubled past, but they immerse the Discover tent in volume as the band deliver the loudest set of the festival so far.

At points Domenic Palermo’s heartfelt vocals float over soft drumbeats, but the rest bite is short lived as the set thrusts into gear.

Halfway through the set you witness the fickleness of festival crowds, the tent is never mobbed sadly but one second you see a guy having the time of his life pummelling his air drums the next second he’s being led off elsewhere, clearly not enjoying himself enough or his pals aren’t, still that’s kind of what festivals are about and the set continues on through and sees Palermo climbing up the tent poles with guitar and mic in toe.

Anna Meredith follows on and has one of those truly overwhelming sets, as a composer she is so revered and it’s clear to see why here, live it sounds huge with a touch of impending danger that submerges the emotions and leaves you dancing to quell the fear.

Epic doesn’t even begin to describe this musical collective; think orchestral prowess meets techno beats, the sound is bold and each track a climatic experience.

Despite the lack of vocals for the most part (not proper music according to Meredith’s niece and nephew) there’s a huge emotional depth in their sound that has the crowd lost in the sheer complex beauty they deliver.

At points the sound moves to tropical touches dance vibes at others vocals kick in to add to new urgency that just reassures how impressive an act you’re witnessing.

From one landscape to another, And Yet It Moves do power on a different level, with a set full on genre defying intensity that moves from quivering high keys to a beastly rhythm section to Dale Barclay’s sheer presence.

Yeah he may look like he’s dressed as a Christmas stocking in his glittery red polo neck (which he quickly sheds), but there is no doubting he is the real deal with sneered vocals and a presence that you just can’t take your eyes off; these guys deserve the big crowds.

Bringing in the evening with Joy Division and New Order, Peter Hook and the Light clearly have a strong following.

Solid 80s vibes pulsate through the fields of Drumlanrig, exuding expertise of the synth variety.

A dizzying confession of angst, anger and revolt, thumping out rock beats backed by clever hooks and clean vocals, Car Seat Headrest is not your average rock band.

They bring a sound that’s both large and loud with a hope their audience is entertained as much as them.

As the band grow into their set of first wave channelling emo that has enough pop hooks to addictive angular guitars to get you addicted, it quickly becomes overpowering and they close to huge sing-along chorus’, crowd surfing and soaring belters.

Across the Atlantic Band of Horses would headline a festival of this size, on a worldwide scale they’re the biggest band on the entire line-up, and they prove why with a set dotted with huge sounding tracks that keep the main stage bouncing along.

There’s touches of country to the Seattle based five-pieces catalogue but when they get to hits like ‘The Funeral’ they reach real classic American indie rock territory which has the now pretty substantial main stage crowd singing along.

Known for their partly psychedelic, fuzzy tunes, Temples don’t disappoint and allow for a reminiscence to 60s rock while maintaining skilful melodies.

A little mysterious and reserved, Temples’ stage performance is one of aloofness and grandeur.

Hidden away from all the bands, starting later on each night is a dance paradise that’s rammed as much as the Slam tent would be for Jackmaster, the Numbers founder is an incredible prospect as ever delivering a diverse maximal set that has everyone moving.

He gets on his horse a wee bit with an inflatable ball hitting him a couple of times, but who wouldn’t, he has to leave directly after his set to play the Sub Club, but and who would have thought there would be a bigger crowd for him in Dumfries at 9pm.

Closing the main stage are a band that, in this part of world at least, need very little introduction; but as a somewhat flattered Scott Hutchison notes, Frightened Rabbit aren’t a band that gets to headline festivals, let alone follow one their favourite bands to it, still they promise no confetti no fireworks just a fuck load of songs and they more than deliver.

They’re on stage for a bumper set that draws from their increasingly strong back catalogue of superbly structure Scottish vocals, folk tinged alternative rock that moves from tracks of moving beauty to belting sing-alongs about shagging, a superb way to close the first night.

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Words: Iain Dawson/Rachel Cunningham
Photos: Allan Lewis/Erin McKay

BBC Radio 6 Music Festival with Car Seat Headrest, The Lemon Twigs, Haley Bonar, Sacred Paws at Saint Luke’s, 25/3/17

In the smallest of the three venues taken over by this year’s BBC 6 Music Festival comes arguably the most exciting array of bands on the whole line-up.

While the rest of the fest is taken over by cruising veterans (Depeche Mode) or the populist fringes of modern electronica (Bonobo), Saint Luke’s catches three of the most exciting acts from the other side of the Atlantic (and one gang of hotly tipped Glaswegians for good measure).

First up, Sacred Paws show why they’re one of the most exciting bands in Scotland with a short set that is high on energy and ambition.

Our first Transatlantic guest is Minnesota’s Haley Bonar, described ambitiously by the MC as the best thing to come out of the state since Prince.

Arguably this is an insult to the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece Fargo, but the audience seem prepared to give Bonar the benefit of the doubt.

Bonar shares little in common with the funky purple icon but she has a tight backing group and a rich, deep voice that suits her warm indie rock sound.

She’s been ridiculously productive over the past few years, releasing record after independent record but the downside of this is the lack of a distinctive sound; with tracks ranging from strident alt-rock on 2014’s ‘The Last War’ to a warmer countryish sound.

Tonight the audience seem a little restless, but they’re impressed with her voice and some impressively smooth bass grooves that give her set a sedate, rolling feel.

The best moments come late on when Bonar buckles on an acoustic guitar and the music takes a turn for the downtempo.

She may not be able to rival the night’s other acts for energy, but there’s plenty to enjoy from tonight’s performance.

Next up are The Lemon Twigs, a New York four-piece led by brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario whose lush sixties-inspired melodies and theatrical pomp recalls The Zombies trading licks with Supertramp.

Together with the stern Danny Ayala on keys and Megan Zeankowski on bass, the brothers deliver a highly entertaining set that is one part Freddie Mercury, one part Syd Barrett, a smidgeon of Keith Moon and quite a lot of Broadway.

All of the band is clearly exceptional musicians for their relatively young age; Brian (Roger Waters if he joined Slade) sings better but Michael bashes the hell out of a drum kit, while wearing a leopard print cat suit.

Midway through the duo swap to allow Michael a chance to buckle on a Gibson SG and deliver a high-kicking frontman routine.

Your love of this band may depend on whether you consider them loveable revivalists or an irritating pastiche, especially since their hyperactive songs rarely stay at one tempo for long enough to get a handle on the surprisingly effective melodies that the quartet are firing at you at a rapid tempo.

With one album, Do Hollywood, already out on legendary alt label 4AD and a new EP forthcoming, the stage is set for these retro fantasists to take the world by storm.

Finally it’s time for our Car Seat Headrest and from the buzz in the audience there is no doubt who the hottest band of the night are.

In just two years, Will Toledo has gone from obsessive bedroom recording nut to a genuine sensation, crafting dynamic indie rock tales of wit and disenchantment and tonight is a great reminder of the immense talent that has brought him so far, as he and his bandmates work their way through a set that unsurprisingly draws heavily on last year’s fantastic Teens of Denial.

Dressed all in black, the group are tight, precise and loud as they deliver Toledo’s missives like firecrackers.

There’s a touch of Weezer in the scratchy riffs, New York legends Television in the extended interweaving guitar parts and tons of the Pixies in the screeching feedback and lo-fi aesthetic of tracks like ‘Destroyed by Hippie Powers’.

The blackly comic ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales’ and ‘Unforgiving Girl’ get the crowd moving, but the best thing about the show is the atmosphere the quartet summons with barely a gesture.

The crowd crackle with electricity from the first guitar squall to the last notes of an almost unrecognisable lo-fi take on Frank Ocean’s ‘Ivy’.

It’s the type of atmosphere you only get when a band are at their most exciting, dragging excited faces through the door in the hope of catching an act on the cusp of greatness.

If Toledo and co can keep producing shows and records as good as this, they’ll deserve their place alongside their heroes.

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Words: Max Sefton
Photos: BBC/Alan Braidwood

Car Seat Headrest at Broadcast, 23/6/16

Who is Car Seat Headrest? Well firstly they are a fresh take on the D.I.Y ethic, why you ask? Mainly because at the tender age of 24 (although he would probably get ID’d buying a lottery ticket) lead singer Will Toledo has written, recorded, produced and put out 11 records.

The bulk of which were mainly put out via Bandcamp and also to boot recorded in the back seat of a car… Hence the alluring moniker Car Seat Headrest was born.

Secondly, they are a shining beacon of hope that teenage angst ridden lo-fi scuzz pop has not immigrated to Europe and left America behind.

After all where would we be without the Pixies? Weezer? Pavement? EELS? All of which seem to be alive and very present and packaged in a delightful, intricate and intriguingly ‘new’ way.

Tonight’s show at Broadcast is sold out and to be fair, I would be astounded if they will ever be back to a venue this size again; it’s overcrowded, it’s muggy and you can feel every chord reverberate off of the basement walls.

“You guys seem to like it hot; we accidently left our guitars on stage and we now need to re-tune them because it got hot” blurts out hypodermic thin Toledo, avoiding eye contact.

Who can blame him when he was a foot away from 200 sweaty Glaswegians who are all staring intently at him, waiting patiently for Toledo to start jetting out his own brand of awkward sophomoric vitriol.

And that’s exactly what is delivered as the band launch into ‘The Ending of Dramamine’, a goliath 14 minutes of pure grunge fuzz that seems to take a stroll through 50’s Du-Wop et al The Clovers and scratchy husky vocals of Mark Oliver Everett.

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Next up is ‘Fill in the Blank’, which is the first to be played from this year’s release via Matador, Teens of Denial and is the perfect example of how loud CSH can be, which in a venue this size is very.

‘1937 State Park’ seems to spark a bit of a sing-a-long with the crowd chanting “I didn’t want you to hear that shake in my voice” and “I cried walking home”, however ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Wales’ and ‘Destroyed by Hippie Powers’ spark the biggest rendition of singing of the night.

Penultimate track is ‘Stop Smoking’, which sees Toledo on stage on his own for a very stripped back lo-fi ballad with a biting message of “stop smoking, we love you, we don’t want you to die”.

The band come back on stage for one more in ‘Unforgiving Girl (She’s Not An)’, which is delivered quickly before a sharp exit.

This seems to bewilder the most of the crowd who stand around waiting for more, perhaps they were waiting for some of the band’s regarded ‘hits’ like, ‘Something Soon’ or ‘Vincent’, but they never came.

A confident move from a band who at the beginning of their career already have a daunting back catalogue.

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Words/Photos: Ang Canavan