Car Seat Headrest, including Naked Giants, the band it absorbed, performs at KEXP this year.

After self-releasing 11 albums in four years as Car Seat Headrest and finishing college in Virginia, Will Toledo moved here to make a living as a musician. He spent some months playing house shows and small venues and gathered a band of transplants. They soon signed to indie bigwig Matador Records and released two albums in seven months, including 2016’s Teens of Denial. Its anthemic songs use a wide palate of influences—Pavement, Frank Ocean, Beck, the Beach Boys—to parse depression. Critics loved it, with NPR leading the pack in zeal: “This might be the best guitar-rock album of the century.”

Later that year the band hit the road with local garage trio Naked Giants. At the tour’s end, at the Neptune Theatre, the bands converged to do a couple Talking Heads covers. When Toledo wanted a bigger band last year, he brought them into the Headrest fold, and the two have since been touring as a seven-man supergroup—the Giants open, then the rest of Headrest coalesces around them—in support of two of this year’s best local albums. The Giants’s SLUFF is full of tight, majorly charismatic songs, each with the immediacy of a pop single, even as its riffs lumber like classic rock monsters. Car Seat Headrest’s Twin Fantasy, meanwhile, is a reproduction of Toledo’s 2011 self-released album. It charts with kaleidoscopic sprawl the relationship of two infatuated young men. It’s less sophisticated than Teens of Denial, but the youthful fumbling only adds to the sheer oomph of its feeling.

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