by Chance PalmChance.jpg

Is being original better? For a journalist, originality is an honor that is highly held. It is so much of an honor to behold that plagiarism can lead to a fifty thousand dollar fine and up to a year in prison. So in that sense, I would agree that being original is better. But, I also double as a consumer. I love listening to music in particular.  

   One of my favorite things to listen to is Car Seat Headrest’s album, Twin Fantasy. The album debuted on the indie streaming service Bandcamp, on Nov. 2, 2011. During the time of the recording, there was only one member, Will Toledo. Given the limits of being an unsigned and unfunded artist, he recorded the entire album on his laptop microphone.

The result was a noisy, lo-fi indie rock album. The vocals sounded like they were sung into a pop can, and the guitar sounded as fuzzy as a fox, and even the album art had the pencil sketchings still visible.

    Nevertheless, the album carried with it a vibrant and colorful energy that instantly caught on with internet listeners. The album generated buzz and amassed a cult following on the music forums, which got Toledo a label deal. He then released three albums, one acclaimed and brought on a new wave of fans for the band. Seeing the success that their new signee, the label let Toledo choose his next move. He chose to remake his original rise to fame, Twin Fantasy.

   Under his label contract, he got financial support for the remake of the album, meaning he would be able to pay for better production. This meant that the original lo-fi sound would be gone. A sound the small cult following of the album, including myself had grown to love. The new version was set to be released on Feb. 16, and on Feb. 16 I took a shot and listened to a new version.

The album sounded clean, it was like if Toledo had lathered it in dish soap, then took it outside blasted it with the garden hose, freeing the album of the dirt and amateurism that wrapped it. It wasn’t just the lo-fi fuzz that was missing, the sense of adventure was gone, too. The remake in technical terms was much better, it kept the same energy and the themes, and internet critics loved it.

The re-release was a more normal indie rock album, the territory the sound went in had already been charted. The original grips me because when an artist makes something new, to chart new territory, the exploration and the adventure that lights up an album is electric. I think this can’t be redone on a revision, re-release, or a remake.