For this Tiny Desk Concert, Will Toledo (who is kind of the only guy in the band, although not currently if you know what I mean) plays acoustic guitar on a tall stool. Accompanying him are two friends from Leesburg, Va, who don’t actually do anything, and his two band mates who also don’t do anything (well, the drummer plays a toy “desktop” drum set for the song “The Drum”). And yes, they all sing along during the sing along at the end of song three.
It’s worth mentioning that Toledo has released some 12 albums under the name Car Seat Headrest since 2010 (and Toledo is only 23). Find them at bandcamp. Unlike someone like Robert Pollard who has written hundreds of songs that are about 30 seconds long. Most of Toledo’s songs are really quite long, with multiple parts. And amazingly, all the parts are pretty catchy,
He plays three songs in this set. His voice is a little creaky and high-pitched, but it is really-spot on for the kind of songs he writes. By contrast,. it’s funny to hear how deep his speaking voice is.
“The Drum” opens with a riff that is almost out of tune seeming (like his voice). The melody lines in the verses are simple but often unexpected. And lyrically, the song is quite interesting (“the drum reads James Joyce,” “the drum’s in debt”). And just when it seems like the song could end, it switches to a slower middle section, after which it all comes back to that catchy chorus. By the end of the song it’s totally grabbed you.
For “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales,” he pushes his falsetto pretty high. The song starts out rather slow but once the verses start properly it picks up. I love the way in the drunk drivers part he adds vocal melodies that are not in the music to make the song even fuller. And then unexpectedly, the song shifts gears from the melancholy drunk driver section to the powerfully sung (and I’m not exactly sure how it’s related) “Killer Whales” part. It runs to 6 minutes and is constantly shifting and always stays interesting.
“Sober To Death” is also about 6 minutes long. There’s some great lyrics in here as well “every conversation ends with you screaming. Not even words just ah ah ahhhhh” (with his voice breaking during the ahhs). The sing along part at the end has a neat intro where the first guitar line is plucked slowly and the second line picks up speed. And when everyone sings along it really elevates the song.
After just two listens to this show I was totally hooked and I’m really looking forward to hearing his last album, which is reworking of his earlier songs for Matador Records, and his soon to be released new album with “Vincent” on it.
[READ: February 25, 2016] Koko Be Good
I absolutely adored the art in this book. I really thought it was outstanding and it has made me search out more of Wang’s stuff (she has a number of online comics at her website). I also didn’t realize that she drew In Real Life–with Cory Doctorow–her style is similar there but a but less wild as it is here. And the story is pretty great too.
So this is the story of two main protagonists and a third character who plays a smaller but pivotal role. Koko is a wild Chinese girl who is carefree and careless. Jon Wilgur is a tightly wound young man who is planning to change his life pretty drastically.
The story opens with Jon–he is drawn so perfectly, I can’t get over it–a great combination of realism and cartoon style. He is listening to an audiotape sent by his girlfriend (I love that he is listening to an audio cassette). He and his girlfriend are planning to move to Peru together very soon. She is currently there and he is about to pack up and head down there himself.
It’s one of his last days of work and the crew invite him out for an after-party. He hates this kind of thing but decides to go anyway. It is at this party that we meet Koko. She comes crashing int the place laden with all kinds of gear. And then she begins demonstrating.
This is where we meet her partner Faron.
The two of them start doing some amazing moves. She throws a pitcher and he kicks it out of the air. She throws a bunch of rings in the air and manages to catch them all on his arms and legs. While they are up to their fun games, we learn that they are part of Peachy’s Puffs “candy girls in hot costumes who show up at parties and clubs in limos. They sell cigarettes and glow sticks for too much money when you’re drunk.”
But something is amiss. It turns out that Koko is not a Peachy Puff–she was fired recently. And when the real puffs show up, she takes off. But she crashes into Jon, who drops his audio cassette player. They lock eyes, she grabs the player and takes off with Faron. Jon just stands there open-mouthed.
In the next chapter Koko starts doing a “podcast” into the tape player telling the listeners all about what’s on her mind. [Back before there were podcasts, all we had was tape players to talk into].
At the same time, Jon runs into Faron at the Chinese place where Faron works. Faron doesn’t talk much, but Jon manages to find out where Koko hangs out. She is shocked to see him and a bit angry about him (she thinks he’s a stalker). But when she realizes what she did (recording over his tape) she feels bad. And they share a milkshake.
They start hanging around together. It seems like a romance might bloom, but that’s not what this story is doing (it’s also possible that she is too young for him, although I’m not sure how old she is. She actually teases him that his Peruvian girlfriend is quite a few years older than him).
They both wind up talking a lot and enjoying each others company. She initially teases him for being such a goody goody, but some of his ideals rub off n her. And while she doesn’t convince him to not go to Peru, she definitely makes him wonder what he’s missing out on by leaving (aside from his job, he has some other friends, and a possible music gig).
I really enjoyed the way the story played out, with some interesting minor twits and some good thoughtful ideas.
I also enjoyed the way Faron didn’t say much but was quite a strong character nonetheless. Faron is a minor character but he gets a good story arc. He has an unhappy home life and he might be gay (well he loves musicals anyway). And when his sister’s boyfriend starts getting aggressive, he takes some action and then takes off.
But mostly I loved the fun style and the great drawings especially of the wild Koko. Two examples are the way Koko is drawn on page 32 and the way she runs off on 35. I don’t have those pictures handy, but I’ve got this one, which just shows how varied Jen Wang has made her.
I can’t wait to read more from her and to see her webcomics.
This book is another great one from First Second #10yearsof01