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Making a Door Less Open
Car Seat Headrest’s Making a Door Less Open may just be the perfect album, from the perfect band, for the present moment. Frontman Will Toledo grew up in the deep suburbs, recording his first music as a high school student in Leesburg, Virginia. Searching for privacy as a teen, he drove his parents’ car around suburbia, recording in various parking lots. That strategy feels especially relevant now, as young adults worried about spending months alone in city apartments packed up and headed back to childhood homes. With all of the disruptions to normal life came a lot of change, and, for many, a lot of angst. Car Seat Headrest’s newest release comes after a four-year hiatus from new music, and it too marks a period of change. Making a Door Less Open has received some criticism; Toledo and fellow band members Ethan Ives, Seth Dalby, and Andrew Katz shifted to incorporate hip-hop, EDM, and pop into their standard indie rock. Oh, and Toledo, at least for now, is moving away from “being” Toledo. He began promoting the album as “Trait,” wearing a gas mask with LED eyes. In fact, all of Making a Door Less Open is a collaboration with Toledo and Katz’s 1 Trait Danger, an EDM-focused side project. The sound is a little different, but the angst is still there. The album’s high and low points speak to this moment’s collective feeling: Exhaustion, angst, manic quarantine cleaning. Making a Door Less Open may not be a Pitchfork winner, but it’s worth a listen right now. The album is available on Bandcamp, Spotify, and YouTube Music. Free–$9.99. —Sarah Smith
Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean
The exhibit Sailors and Daughters: Early Photography and the Indian Ocean focuses on the people and ports of the Indian Ocean, offering a whirlwind tour across continents, decades, and photographic technologies. The exhibit, mounted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, stretches from photography’s birth in the mid-19th century into the early 20th century and spans genres, such as portraits, landscapes, and nautical images. A peek into Oman just after the turn of the 20th century suggests a somewhat hardscrabble outpost, in contrast to images of Zanzibar made a decade earlier that depict a bustling trade hub with sturdy monuments to commerce. An atlas from 1848 offers some remarkable lithographic portraits of individuals and families drawn from daguerreotypes; the book’s highly detailed landscapes are at times surprisingly abstract. In the exhibit, the distance between colonizer and colonized is never far from the surface, but nowhere is it more noticeable than in a collection of identification photographs from the Seychelles islands. The images are of Africans who were rescued by the British Navy from slave ships in the 1860s and 1870s. Despite their supposed “liberation,” they were taken to a depot, photographed, renamed, and forced into indentured servitude for five years. The effect of their fate can be plainly seen in their faces, which are printed in no-nonsense fashion, replete with muddy blemishes and an overlay of bureaucratic jottings. The exhibition is available at indian-ocean.africa.si.edu, along with a selection of music and poetry from the region. Free. —Louis Jacobson