DIY punks, bedroom producers and even legends looking to strip things back have all recorded outside of the studio
As we all know, studio space for recording, mixing and mastering music is not cheap, and can often be totally unaffordable for artists breaking out.
The benefits of top-class studios are manifest from the many great songs recorded in the likes of Studio One, Abbey Road or Capitol Studios.
But there are just as many incredible records made by artists who didn’t venture beyond their front door.
Seminal albums in garage rock, punk and indie were all created with this DIY ethos at heart, and the democratisation of technology has led to the rise of the bedroom producer.
It’s not just new artists — some rock legends have even stepped away from the studio in a bid to rediscover a raw sound.
These 8 great albums recorded at home are an inspiration to all musicians.
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Bruce Springsteen — Nebraska
The Boss’s 1982 album Nebraska was recorded at home on a cassette-tape Portastudio. The songs were originally intended as demos to be fleshed out with the E Street Band, but instead were released as a completed album. The sparse sound and dark lyrical content stand in complete contrast to the stadium rock of Born in the USA, which followed it.
Beck — Odelay
Beck’s sample-heavy, pop-infused Odelay, which spawned singles Devil’s Haircut and The New Pollution, doesn’t scream ‘home recording’, but it was. After ditching the producers from the highly successful Mellow Gold, he teamed up with The Dust Brothers, who set up a studio in a spare bedroom in their LA house.
Foo Fighters — Wasting Light
The garage is one of the most important spaces in rock history, responsible for endless bands finding their sound. Foo Fighters used Dave Grohl’s in California to recapture a “raw” style for their sixth album. It worked — and Wasting Light won five Grammy Awards, including Best Rock Album in 2012.
Bon Iver — For Emma, Forever Ago
The story behind Justin Vernon’s debut album has taken on a life of its own: after escaping to his father’s cabin in rural Wisconsin, he locked himself away for the winter, getting drunk, hunting deer and ruminating over his ex. Eventually, he emerged from his stupor and began writing songs: the result of which was this beautiful, sparse masterpiece.
Daniel Johnston — Songs of Pain
This singer is perhaps best known as the subject of The Devil and Daniel Johnston, which chronicles his manic-depression. His first album, now more widely available, was recorded on a tape recorder in the basement of his parent’s home in West Virginia in 1980. After giving out the cassettes to friends, he slowly rose to fame — but he has stuck with the DIY taping aesthetic.
James Blake — James Blake
James Blake’s breakthrough single, a post-dubstep cover of Feist’s Limit to Your Love, made him the poster boy for the bedroom-producer generation. A reluctant star, he – like Burial (who stayed totally anonymous for the best part of a decade) – proved that breathtaking, beautiful and refined music could still be made at home.
Christopher Duncan — Architect
Christopher Duncan shot to fame after his lush, orchestral debut album Architect was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2015. It’s hard to believe that the classically trained 27-year-old recorded this accomplished album entirely in his Glasgow home, but he did. He told Louder than War: “I can create my own workspace where my mind can flourish and my imagination can go off on a tangent.”
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