Car Seat Headrest – “Teens of Denial” – Record Review

This album is a rogue ocean wave that knocked me on my ass, swept me out to a frothy and frenzied sea where it tossed me around for 70 minutes before spitting me back onto dry land asking “what the hell just happened to me and how the hell do I get back out there ’cause that totally kicked ass!” As grunge and alt rock have always had their teeth in me given the styles explosions in my most formative of years, I am excited by this record.  It harkens back to that explosive, dirty, energetic, frenetic, catch-me-if-you-can, kind of frenzied creation that the likes of Spoon, the Strokes, Pearl Jam, Weezer at times, Nirvana, Modest Mouse, more recently the Front Bottoms, and countless others all kept us fed on for so long during those years.  The true dirty alternative rock/grunge sound has been harder to come by in recent years… then along comes this album.

Released on May 20, 2016 by Matador Records, “Teens of Denial” is the 13th record by Car Seat Headrest, originally out of Leesburg, Virginia but now based out of Seattle, Washington.  The band originally started as a solo recording project in 2010 by Will Toledo.  This lofty and ambitious album almost feels like you’re listening to 3 albums in one, sometimes even over the course of a single track.  Coming in at a whopping 70 minutes and 7 seconds long, it asks for a chunk of your time if wanting to digest it all in one session.  In an age of hit singles and quick “here today, gone tomorrow” success of iTunes track purchasing, it is so cool to see a band release such an effort.

I cannot urge you enough to give this album your time.  Sit with it, do it again, then again… then try to tell me you’re not obsessed with it.  It might be one of the best alt/grunge/rock albums ever made… and I don’t take that statement lightly.  It is a journey in the best kind of way and one full of surprises, wrong turns that become the right ones.  The closing of the 4th track “(Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for…)”, breaks into a vocal medly of “drugs are better, drugs are better with friends are better, friends are better with drugs are better with friends, are better with friends or drugs are better…” and you find yourself totally swept up in it, singing along and thinking what the hell am I even singing right now, but then immediately wanting to sing it again, to hear it again.  The next track, “Not What I Needed”, gives us some of that teenage angst call and answer, as raw as if it was you and your buddies back in a garage getting drunk for the first time.  I cannot overstate the journey this album takes you on from start to finish.

This is not an album you can simply skip around on and make up your mind after a 30 second sampling here and there or you will completely miss out on the point of this effort.  It requires your time and your patience to let it develop and take you over.  Grab a couple of your favorite craft beers or pour yourself your beverage of choice, sit back and give it a listen start to finish at least once before you pass any judgement on this album.  I promise you that you will not regret it, if you like any of the artists or styles I have mentioned previously in this review.

I sincerely thank Will Toledo and this band for creating this album.  It pleases me immensely that the music styling I hold so closely to my heart and nostalgic self is still out there and being created anew and fresh.  This is in contention for my overall #1 release of 2016, a year in which there were amazing releases by some great bands.

In closing, I will say again, this album is a rogue ocean wave that knocked me on my ass, swept me out to a frothy and frenzied sea where it tossed me around for 70 minutes before spitting me back onto dry land asking “what the hell just happened to me and how the hell do I get back out there ’cause that totally kicked ass!”.  Thank you Car Seat Headrests for sharing your art and music with us.

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