Best Nostalgic CD-Rs

Best: Fugazi Live Series
2nd Best: Teenbeat Originals
Fugazi Live Series ranked as our favorite bootlegs of last year, and the band’s classic performances—from Fort Reno to Hong Kong—still hold the No. 1 spot. But we’ve found the second-best bootlegs: The formerly local label Teenbeat has started reissuing its earliest cassette recordings, digitizing them, and releasing them on limited CD-R runs as part of its “Teenbeat Originals” series. Label owner Mark Robinson started the Teenbeat enterprise while attending Wakefield High School in Arlington from 1981 to 1985—recording himself and his friends in their parents’ living rooms and basements. (The tapes include Robinson’s Unrest at its most primitive.) Sometimes it wasn’t pretty. And sometimes the band caught a sound that no one else was doing at the time. Think of those days as proto-Wham City with the band’s play on pop culture and lounge lizard staples with a bent toward anything-goes psych and post-punk. “No one else would probably do this,” Robinson explains. “They are essentially just tapes we made in high school to give to our friends.” Robinson says listening to his teenage voice is wince-worthy and a little embarrassing. But so far he’s made about 20 CD-Rs, purchased a new tape deck, and has expanded the series to include Air Miami and Rondelles demos. So really: How embarrassing can this stuff be?