Review Summary: One of the best things about this album being in demo form, is that you get The Used in their rawest form possible. You get all that teenage angst that turned them into superstars shortly after.
Excluding compilation albums of live tracks and b-sides, The Used only have 3 albums of original material to date. I personally never appreciated the bands latest LP, “Lies for the Lairs”, so I was more than keen to venture into their earliest material. The albums title, “Demo’s from the Basement” pretty much says it all. This album was recorded cheaply in a basement somewhere in Utah, shortly after the band getting together. The Used, or “Used” as they were then named, recorded these ten tracks in 2001, some of the tracks on here made it onto the bands self titled album that followed in the next year and a half. Some of the tracks however didn’t, but were cleverly rerecorded and put on a compilation album, for sale a year or so after the success of the bands debut.
One of the most interesting things to listen out for on this album, is the little and at times major changes that both the band and producer John Fieldman put towards it. This is evident in pretty much every single song, especially opening tracks “Maybe Memories” and “The Taste of Ink”. These songs have different structures altogether. “The Taste of Ink” has a completely different chorus and bridge. However I much prefer the rerecorded version over the original, due to the chorus sounding whiny and repetitive. I feel that if they didn’t change that song, it wouldn’t be such a favorite in the bands catalog. “Say Days Ago” follows and only has minor differences from the rerecorded version of the song. The Demo form however works for it’s advantage, making McCracken’s screams sound harder and the whole song sound rawer altogether. Poetic Tragedy has the best sounding production on the album, this song has little change from the album version apart from a longer bridge that drags on for an extra ten seconds that really isn’t needed.
“A Box full of Sharp Objects” is my favourite song on this demo. Bert’s screams sound amazing here, they surge at you through the speakers, a million times more intense then that of the studio version. With that said, I still prefer the sound of the studio version with better production all round. At last we have one of the songs that didn’t make it onto the debut album. “Just A Little” was rerecorded shortly after the release of the first album and put on the compilation album “Maybe Memories” of which I mentioned earlier. This is the only song on “Demos from the Basement” that sounds better in its untouched demo form. “Just A Little” roughly one progression and hits you hard in just under two and half minutes. The Studio version however drags on for an extra minute that left me bored out of my brains. “It could be a good excuse” and “Zero Mechanism” follow, these are two more songs that didn’t make the cut for the debut album, with good reason. These two tracks just don’t do it for me, being put between the rest of the material on the demo, they fail to hold their own.
One of the weaker points of this demo is that the band didn’t include any proper ballads. However this was changed with the addition of acoustic tearjerker “On My Own” and piano ballad “Blue and Yellow” of which were added sneakily to the bands debut album. The closest of which “Demos from the Basement” comes to a ballad is “Greener with the Scenery”. This song sounds pretty cool in its demo form, great sound from the band over all and some brutal screams from Bert in the chorus that come through really well in the mix. Defiantly one of the highlights on the album.
The Album closes with “Pieces Mended”, this song sounds pretty good. Although it doesn’t really offer anything different from the studio version.
One of the best things about this album being in demo form, is that you get The Used in their rawest form possible. You get all that teenage angst that turned them into superstars shortly after. It doesn’t get any more powerful than this. Another advantage about this demo is you get the band as unedited as possible. I noticed that lead singer Bert sounds a little different on “Demos from the Basement” that he does on any releases there after, he has a couple problems with pitch throughout the album that come through pretty well, I enjoyed it, you get the real band, head on. Overall, Ive always been a fan of the bands earliest material and correct me if I’m wrong, but these are some of the earliest recordings of The Used to date. I wouldn’t recommend this release to anyone that prefers polished albums with state of the art production because these songs are “Demos from the Basement”.
A Box Full of Sharp Objects
Just A Little
Greener With The Scenery