Albums recorded at home
December 6, 2011 4:38 AM   Subscribe

After reading this post today, I'm wondering... what are some great home-recorded and/or lo-fi albums? Doesn't have to be a similar style, but I'm definitely more interested in individual efforts. Still, all suggestions are welcome.

Also, what are your thoughts on these kinds of recordings? I know that's pretty vague, but really, I'm interested in whatever anyone might have to say about any aspect of this kind of recording.
posted by seriousmoonlight to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Michelle Shocked's Texas Campfire Tapes was recorded on a Sony Walkman.
posted by xingcat at 5:04 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Early Mountain Goats stuff was home recorded, and it was great.

The Kitchen Tapes by Red Allen and Frank Wakefield are great, recorded in the kitchen of Wakefield's house, and some of the best guitar/mandolin music you're likely to hear. Wakefield is just so great on the mandolin.
posted by OmieWise at 5:10 AM on December 6, 2011

"The Pizza Tapes" with Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, and Tony Rice was recorded in someone's kitchen and supposedly got bootlegged when the pizza delivery guy saw a cassette on the counter and grabbed it. David Grisman cleaned it up the original and officially released it some years later.

One of Beck's earliest efforts, "The Banjo Story," definitely has a recorded-in-the-basement-on-a-boombox sound to it. I'm not sure it was ever released in any quantity, but there are mp3s floating around.
posted by usonian at 5:26 AM on December 6, 2011

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's early stuff recorded with answering machines. Daniel Johnston.
posted by ifjuly at 5:41 AM on December 6, 2011

Marshall Crenshaw's first album featured stuff like kick drum sounds made by covering a microphone with a washcloth and tapping on it with a pencil eraser.
posted by thelonius at 5:48 AM on December 6, 2011

Guided By Voices' Bee Thousand is a real touchstone for the whole 90's lo-fi movement. Also an amazing album.
posted by dfan at 5:54 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Obviously, Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska".
posted by davebush at 5:55 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding "early Mountain Goats" -- all recorded on a boombox. Start with the sublime Zopilote Machine.
posted by escabeche at 6:28 AM on December 6, 2011

Thirding "early Mountain Goats", but I'd like to put in a recommendation for All Hail West Texas.
posted by wayland at 6:34 AM on December 6, 2011

I think Jack White did this with Loretta Lynn ("Van Lear Rose") -well, it's referred to as "stripped down" anyway.
posted by foxhat10 at 6:37 AM on December 6, 2011

Bright Eyes's early records (Collection of Songs, Letting off the Happiness, Every Day and Every Night) are some pretty great home-recorded records.

From a 2000 interview:
I guess not from the very beginning, I played in [Commander Venus] and then I did some four-track recordings and we put out that first Bright Eyes CD, A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997. Mike and I had always been friends and he was playing in Lullaby and he really liked the first CD but his main complaint was how bad it sounded. He approached me one day and said 'if you want I'll record you for free and I think it'd be cool because I like your songs.' I was like 'woah, sure'. It's been gradually getting more produced because Letting Off The Happiness was like just an analog eight track that he brought down and we still recorded in my parents basement and then we recorded part of that at Andy [Lemaster, keyboard player]'s studio in Athens, but then for Every Day and Every Night we did it in his house but kept it really loose, and did it real fast. And then the new record it was much more like two months of solid recording, just concentrating on everything...
posted by General Malaise at 6:57 AM on December 6, 2011

Pete Townshend's Scoop series 1-4, are all his home demo's of songs he woud later take to The Who for consideration.
posted by timsteil at 7:10 AM on December 6, 2011

Emitt Rhodes springs to mind.
posted by anthom at 7:21 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you like John Fahey-style solo guitar, the Ragtime Ralph / Blind Brand X home recordings are definitely worth picking up.

My favorite of the Moondog records, Moondog on the Streets of New York is a lo-fi field recording by Tony Schwartz.

The early Tall Dwarfs EPs were the first "bedroom pop" that I came across - "Nothing's Going to Happen" still sounds like the opening shot of the genre.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:24 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ariel Pink, James Ferraro/Lamborghini Crystal et al, first Of Montreal album, almost any well-regarded "indie rock" album of the past decade or so. Would post links/more thoughts cause it's something I'm interested in - but I'm on a phone!
posted by Ted Maul at 7:29 AM on December 6, 2011

I'm a big fan of the Russian Futurists' first home-recorded albums. It's actually just one guy in his Toronto bedroom.
posted by Gortuk at 7:44 AM on December 6, 2011

PJ Harvey released a collection of four-track demos for her second album Rid of Me.

However - even better - back in 1992 I was lucky enough to be one of the first 5,000 to buy her debut on vinyl, which came with a second LP called Demonstration containing very primitive versions of the songs on Dry. It is incredible, and it's worth quite a bit now. If I remember correctly, these were the demos that got her a record deal in the first place. It's still not easy to find them all online, but here's Oh My Lover and Dress.
posted by cincinnatus c at 8:07 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

If you're into power-pop, check out Necessity: The 4 Track Years, by former Jellyfish member Jason Falkner. He plays all the instruments too.
posted by Clustercuss at 8:15 AM on December 6, 2011

Daniel Johnston recorded his early cassettes at home. The documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston can give you a glimpse at his techniques.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:16 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

The end result might be a little slick for your taste, but Richard X. Heyman's Living Room! was a DIY effort entirely recorded, well, in a living room.
posted by Opposite George at 8:20 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Common Rotation generally records in living rooms, and some of the tracks on The Clear Channel EP and Isalie were recorded in other people's living rooms on a living room tour.

The most recent album (financed via Paypal donations from fans) was recorded in a house they rented for the occasion and which has some kind of crazy backstory (fake kidnappings, Gloria Swanson) I only half-heard on the Pop My Culture podcast recently.

There's some passing references to the recording circumstances and band history in this interview. I really like all their albums, but you'd probably enjoy Isalie and the new Keep an Open Gallery the most.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:55 AM on December 6, 2011

Rivers Cuomo's Alone and Alone II
posted by humboldt32 at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Streets: Original pirate material, recorded mostly in Mike Skinner's mum's house.
posted by handee at 9:03 AM on December 6, 2011

The Living Room Tapes by Lenny Breau (guitar) and Brad Terry (clarinet) is a wonderful album. Lenny Breau is a hugely popular guitarist among jazz guitarists, and this is my favorite of his recordings.
posted by cribcage at 9:24 AM on December 6, 2011

Roman Candle, the first Elliott Smith album, has some pretty good stuff on it. He recorded it on a four-track in his girlfriend's basement.

Ariel Pink's hero/WFMU legend R. Stevie Moore records at home. Maybe try one of his first couple records, Phonography or Delicate Tension.
posted by Adventurer at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2011

North Carolina singer/songwriter David Childers has an album called A Good Way to Die which he recorded on a four track. Good luck finding it, though.
posted by zzazazz at 11:05 AM on December 6, 2011

Seconding PJ Harvey. I was just re-listening to her this weekend and had forgotten how great and under-produced so much of her early stuff was.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:33 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I suggest "Just In Time for Something" by Damien Jurado. Check out this description from Amazon:

Product Description
It’s a special thing when you’re hearing new Damien Jurado songs for the first time. 'Just In Time For Something' is a beautiful little postcard from Jurado’s neck of the woods. Self-recorded during a long weekend using a ‘67 tube-powered reel-to-reel, these new tunes sound like Alan Lomax field recordings from the mid-‘60s. It feels as though Jurado is just in the next room, on the other side of the door, playing new songs for the first time and hitting them spot-on. Just as Nick Drake was able to convey a complicated sense of uplifting sorrow in his songs, Jurado has both the songwriting and the performance gift…and his full-length, 'On My Way To Absence,' will be released in early 2005.
posted by tacodave at 2:19 PM on December 6, 2011

back in 2007, Sam Beam put a link up to the original demo tapes for The Shepherd's Dog on the main Iron & Wine site. it doesn't appear to be there any more.

now, The Shepherd's Dog is a truly beautiful album, and much of that has to do with the heavy & wonderful production work. but the original tapes are also truly beautiful, and reveal just how amazing the original songs were before they received their remixing.

and too, it sounds like Mr. Beam is sitting right next too, singing just for you - and that can't be beat.

if you can't find it online somewhere, memail me & i'll send you zip file.
posted by jammy at 3:40 PM on December 6, 2011

Love the topic and looking forward to discovering new "Living Room" material. What comes to my mind are:

The Basement Tapes released version a 5 Disc version (Scroll down to 1967
The Genuine Basement Tapes) and there is an 11 Disc version that is supposedly complete.

Lucinda Williams last album Blessed comes in a deluxe version which includes the entire album recorded by her alone in her kitchen, kinda fun.

My favorite Johnny Cash albums from the American Recordings series has a number of bootlegs which include the original recordings that were made in Rick Rubin's Living Room and are strikingly beautiful. I am not sure how many of them are it the the final albums without any overdubs.

Not really what you are asking for, but an incredible listen along these lines is Jeff Tweedy's Living Rooms concerts. If you are a Tweedy or Wilco fan, this is a real treat, recording VERY WELL right in someone living room.
posted by silsurf at 9:42 PM on December 14, 2011

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