I own a lot of handmade CD-Rs. Between playing, attending, and fostering shows in the various small towns I grew up in, I managed to amass a healthy collection of CD-Rs from various traveling bands that rivals my regular CD collection from the same time. Even if they’re god awful (a lot of them are), I can’t bear to get rid of the discs because I know someone spent their time drawing, cutting, stapling, sewing, and assembling each one. I’m a frequent mover, and these artifacts have become a sort of thing I often bear in a cardboard box, somewhere in a closet.
While searching the other day through these varying CDs (most notably detailed in various colors of Sharpie) I stumbled upon Grass Widow’s demo from their first tour from the summer of 2007. They did this tour almost two years before having a proper album released on Captured Tracks. I remember one specific detail from the show: turning to my friend as Grass Widow ended a song and saying within earshot of the members of the opening band (some ironic AC/DC kind of band that played every local show), “I wish there were more bands like this here! Bands here suck!” Things got awkward, but in a way I was really happy to express that discontentment forwardly.
Since then I have moved on to bigger cities, finding that I am just not meant for the small/mid size town. Bands no longer have CD-R’s at most shows I attend; if it’s not an actual record or pressed CD, the tape is the new CD-R (annotate to format debate here). It might be that people are trying to put a better foot forward in presenting a boutique-ready item. This is speculative, but you never know — the CD-R might come back around.
“Why keep all these CD-Rs?” one might ask. “Are you going to save them for 15-20 years and then sell them on eBay? Is this your plan for paying off your student loans?” Nope. Believe it or not, some of these so called “demos” don’t sound too bad. One of my favorite punk albums is in this collection. The Grass Widow demo is one of these that I enjoy, it’s more or less their first album but with a much more personal appeal and less compression. Maybe someday when the early-aught nostalgia wave hits I’ll sell some of my collection to someone who might enjoy them.