“Biting my clothes to keep from screaming
Taking pills to keep from dreaming
I want to break something important
I want to kick my dad in the shins

I was referring to the present in past tense
It was the only way that I could survive it
I want to close my head in the car door
I want to sing this song like I’m dying
Heavy boots on my throat, I need
I need somethin soon, I need somethin soon
I can’t talk to my folks, I need
I need somethin soon, I need somethin soon
All of my fingers are froze, I need
I need somethin soon, I need somethin soon
Only one change of clothes, I need
I need somethin soon, I need somethin soon
My head is, my head is, my head is…”

~Something Soon
Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Style

It’s easy to find good music – and it’s easy to be impressed, or enjoy something you hear for the first time. I don’t buy it when people say music too homogenized and prepackaged and overproduced these days — so many new releases are these intricate blends of modern sounds, and it’s an adventure to see what trends feed of the last. Somewhere in all that, the real authentic stuff is there, and occasionally you’ll make the rare find of an artist who continues to wow you to that same level over and over again, where you keep listening and discover layer upon layer and layer of who they are, and where these songs are coming from.

For me, Car Seat Headrest is becoming one of those artists. Every song I hear from this guy I like more than the last, every performance I watch leaves me wanting more. Will Toledo’s songs are more confessional rock than folk, but they have a storytelling narrative nonetheless. Musically, there’s a lo-fi, grungy vibe, but his chord choices are poppy and melodic enough to carry the occasional hook (no better exemplified than his biggest single, “Something Soon”), and these surf-rock style solos.

I love Toledo’s emphasis on his anxieties and insanities. For this, I will listen over and over again, because he’s smart and observing without whining. He’s carrying indie rock’s torch in its natural direction, and in the process divulging so much of himself with these little details about his self-image (“If I could split me in two/I would just take my fists/So I could beat up the rest of me”) and inner monologues. His songs have a way of driving forward without getting bogged down in the depressive, though, due mostly to these wailing guitar parts and pop rock rhythms.

I think Toledo’s songs, notably on “Teens of Style”, are solid reflections of the early 21st century teen/20-something experience. While some artists are direct about this, referencing texts and selfies to the point of making it a gimmick, Toledo cuts to the chase of loneliness and the longing that this time produces, and the unending, seemingly inescapable cycle of dreaming and flailing and failing that’s supposed to provide whatever happiness there is to be achieved in this great wide world of ours. It is one of the best rock albums I have discovered in my recent memory, perfectly weird and wistful and wandering.

I’m so excited for the upcoming “Teens of Denial” to get a fresh taste of an album approach. Car Seat Headrest has a discography that dates back three years and shows a real maturation — there plenty to choose from and each release has its own style, whether its production room tweaks or scratchy-record style harmonies. You can tell Toledo just grinds out songwriting, toying with new techniques along the way. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with the recent single, called “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales,” and I think Toledo is pushing himself in a bigger musical direction and better off for it. I think this is a sound worth paying attention to.

“All of 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

I think I’m gonna build a giant hotel
Lest we be scattered, I’ll stack it sky-high
It’s not symbolic, it’s just human nature
Under the foundations, there is a graveyard

We’ve all had better times to die
We’ve all seen better times to die
We’ve all had better times to die
We all had better times to die.
~Time to Die
Car Seat Headrest, Teens of Style