REVIEW festival Good Morning CMJ Music Marathon

Car Seat Headrest Delivers A Sterling Set For CMJ

Among the acts getting a fair degree of hype thrown at them at this years CMJ Music Marathon, Car Seat Headrest had a handful of shows lined up and were ready to prove that such hype was warranted.

Originally from Leesburg, Virginia, 22-year old Will Toledo has already recorded a whopping 11 albums that he made available to stream for free on Bandcamp. He’s recently released the album “Teens of Style” on Matador Records, which features a selection of recordings of Toldedo’s previously released tracks.

I caught his first CMJ set at an afternoon session at Pianos in the Lower East Side. This may have been his first-ever performance in New York City, but it certainly won’t be his last.

Performing with a touring bassist and drummer, Toledo initially appeared somewhat uncomfortable on stage. When he breaks into his songs, however, he counters the audiences expectations with how tight and polished his songs are. The songs are indie rock with deliberately quirky titles and lyrics. For example, he played some songs with the following lyrics:

"Stop Smoking, we love you, and we don’t want you to die" (From “Stop Smoking”).

"All my friends are getting married, all of my friends are right with God, all of my friends are making money, but art gets what it wants and art gets what it deserves" (From “Times to Die”).

Toledo and his touring mates can play, swinging wildly between sharp tempo and volume changes, keeping the audience on their toes. His playful lyrics and catchy hooks reminded me a bit of Weezer, while is distorted vocals were reminiscent of the Strokes.

It was a stellar CMJ debut. While watching Toledo, I had one of these thoughts I get when I discover a new band in a smaller venue; “There’s no way they’re ever going to play here again – these guys are too good.”

With a glowing New Yorker magazine article that came out on the heels of his CMJ gigs, along with the growing buzz and a studio album slated for release sometime next year, it’s a safe bet I’ll never see Car Seat Headrest at Pianos again – but this young artist has plenty of albums for me to acquaint myself with, and thankfully New York City has plenty of larger venues to accommodate his forthcoming fans…

Key Tracks: “Something Soon”; “Stop Smoking”; “Times to Die”

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