The mere concept of releasing demo recordings is a bit baffling. They're "demos" for a reason, usually to save ideas or play for bandmates. They're certainly not meant for public consumption, unless you're an artist who thinks everything you shit out is gold. For die-hards, an official demo CD offers some insight into their favorite artists. They can hear how songs evolve and perhaps hear a few unreleased tunes. So it's a nice gesture, but it's a bit of a cheat: "Here's my new album (of crappy tapes I never wanted to put out in the first place)!"
PJ Harvey put out the only "demo" album I've ever truly loved, 4-Track Demos.
The songs seemed to stand in any format and the "lo-fi" presentation worked really well. Similarly, there are a few songs on Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo's disc of home recordings that would be just fine ... if Rivers didn't have access to a million-dollar studio. A lot of it sounds better than some of those old Guided By Voices albums anyway ("Crazy One" could be a GBV leftover). It shows a slightly different side of Rivers -- "The World We Love So Much" is a hushed lo-fi lullaby, the ballad "This Is the Way" sounds totally computerized, the piano-led "Longtime Sunshine" sounds like Ben Folds and "Dude, We're Finally Landing" is an atonal mess of a capella vocals.
But the sound quality, for the most part, is often too much of a mess to sit through. What's next? Boom-box recordings from Weezer's first rehearsal? Weezer fans will love to hear these seedlings, but for the rest of you (especially those with sensitive ears), save your dough and buy Pinkerton. Grade: C
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