Prepare your turntable for some heavy rotation bangers vinyl fans, ’cause there’s a killer new record club in town, and you’re gonna want to get your mitts on the band-themed boxes they’re delivering every month. It’s called Bandbox, and it’s the record club that seeks to bring the record store to your front door.
Groove Is In The Bandbox
What’s the big deal, you ask?
To put it simply, the words FULLY CUSTOMIZABLE. That’s right, Team Bandbox is now offering a tailor made listening experience each and every month, giving you the chance to fill your monthly box with artists and albums that fit your own personal tastes. And just in case this is the first Bandbox Unboxed piece you’ve clicked on, you should know that Bandbox’s current slate of artists includes the likes of Neil Young, Weezer, Ride, Joy Division/New Order, Johnny Cash, Wilco, and more.
If you are among the legions of fans out there excitedly reading my vinyl unboxing every month, you know a big time format change has recently come to Bandbox land, and that customizability is the key to their coveted box. And now that Team Bandbox is offering a fully customizable format (via a single artist/album of your choosing) and pairing each album with a “Band Dox” zine full of insight, interviews, and behind the scenes pics of your personally selected artist. As such, you’ll now be able to dig their vinyl+zine treasures for a super reasonable $29 a month. Pro tip: if you sign up today, you’ll get your first box for the unbelievably low price of $14.
And to those who fancy a more deep dive, double album approach fear not, because you can add an additional album to every box for a measly $17. As this month’s box features Bandbox’s First Ever Exclusive Pressing, I decided to forgo my usual double scoop of vinyl bliss, and indulge in a heavy dose of Charly Bliss via their 2017 indie classic Guppy. Here’s a look at this month’s killer exclusive release.
I’m sincerely hoping Bandbox’s customizable experience will help ease the nerves of folks wary of letting a group of complete strangers “surprise” you with artist/album selections every month. Just for the record, you can still choose to be surprised every month if that’s what you prefer. But if you’re still suspect, you should know Bandbox has already setup an exchange program which allows you to swap out records you don’t want for ones you do, so long as they’re available in the archives. Hell, they’ll even let you integrate your Discogs account to ensure they never even offer you something you already have in your collection.
If you’re really, really wary of surprises, you can tap out of your subscription at any time by pressing “pause” on your sub. It’s unlikely you’ll want to “pause” anything once you’ve signed up and experienced Bandbox for yourself. Just know that your Bandbox experience will only be as amazing as you make it. Understood?
Let The Great World Spin
Now that I’ve given you all the down and dirty details about what Bandbox is bringing every month, let’s take a moment to get into the latest delivery, ’cause the B-box crew went all out for July, teaming with legendary Seattle indie label Barsuk Records for a first ever color reissue of Charly Bliss’ 2017 power-pop stunner Guppy. Just FYI, that reissue came via a seriously limited pressing number of just 300. And yes, I’m super happy to be adding #188 of that run to my own collection.
Charly Bliss – Guppy (2017)
I like to believe I’m pretty savvy about keeping up with the seemingly endless slate of bands hitting the indie rock scene. But there are always a few intriguing acts that slip through the proverbial cracks of my purview because, well, I’m also infamously picky about what I do and do not dig musically. And I freely admit that Charly Bliss is one of those bands for me. As it is, one of the things I love about record clubs is that they tend to give you a chance to catch up with the proverbial band that got away. And after Charly Bliss’ rockin’ 2017 debut Guppy, I’m sort of baffled it took me this long to get my needle into their grooves.
I should probably qualify that last bit by saying that “groove” isn’t exactly the modus operandi for Charly Bliss. They’re actually a band far more in the mold of the sort of power-pop bliss found in the likes of early Weezer and Nada Surf albums crossed with the raw, punky vibes of a Sleater-Kinney or Bikini Kill. Though stylistic similarities to those groups amid throughout Guppy, Charly Bliss more than puts their own spin on that form to deliver a blistering set of anthemic, supremely crunchy power-pop riots fit for a post riot girl world.
Make no mistake, there are poppy punk vibes aplenty peppering the 10 songs on Guppy. Those tracks unfurl in a sizzling 29-minute runtime, which makes the album on the whole the sonic equivalent of a shot of adrenaline. The energy really never lets up throughout that abbreviated runtime, with each number on Guppy arriving as infectiously hooky as the last, and the band joyously pumping out jams like album opener “Percolator” and the album’s glistening third track “Glitter” in a manner that’s guaranteed to have you pumping your fist and singing back even on first listen.
One might even find a little space for some good, ole fashioned pogoing as Guppy presses forward. While the album’s unbridled garage-pop energy will be more than enough to get you stomping your feet, the second or third spin through Guppy is when it really gets interesting. That’s when you’ll really start seeing how intricately assembled each of the album’s tracks are (see: “Westmark” and “Black Hole”), and I can assure you once you start deciphering the lyrics of singer/guitarist Eva Hendricks, those tracks will star to take on a whole new meaning … even if you still won’t be able to not shout each chorus at the top of your lungs.
All in all, Guppy is a breathless piece power-pop wizardry fueled by crunchy riffs, wicked word play, and a sense of reckless youthful abandon that not enough young bands ever even aspire to. That energy really caught me off guard, and carried me through some of the album’s less intriguing pop indulgences (i.e.”DQ). It also made Guppy a legit musical discovery for me. Frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed at having known so little about Charly Bliss before Guppy showed up at my door, but I’m jazzed they’re now on my radar. And I can pretty much guarantee Guppy is gonna stay on regular rotation in my house for years to come.
A Cardboard Box For Sharing Music
Bandbox is chiefly concerned with living up to that, “cardboard box for sharing music” definition. As the focus of each month’s box is hardcore customizability, they’ve taken the opportunity to beef up their killer “Band Dox” zines with more pictures, interviews, and insightful artist breakdowns. Which means readers are set to dive deeper into your chosen artist’s history than ever before.
That’s particularly true of Band Dox #17, as it also features unprecedented participation from the band themselves, including a track by track breakdown of not just Guppy, but also its 2019 followup Young Enough. All of which is, for the record, unassailably cool.
As this is a vinyl unboxing, I’ll assume you’re itching to get a look at that glorious color pressing of Charly Bliss’ Guppy. Don’t worry, it shall be unveiled soon enough. But first, we’ll spend a couple of moments with the lovely gatefold sleeve protecting it from to cold, cruel world, ’cause album/gatefold art should never be overlooked. Especially when that gatefold contains a full lyric breakdown of the album.
Just FYI – there’s some important stats on the back cover as well, including a list of credits detailing who did what in the record of Guppy.
And as this is Bandbox’s first exclusive release, they got their logo pressed on the back cover to boot. Hi-five team Bandbox!
Once you get inside that gatefold, you’ll want to take note of the digital download code that comes with this Charly Bliss release. And I can assure one and all that Guppy is an exceedingly headphone-friendly album.
And I’ll kindly ask you wonderful people to give me a little drumroll as I finally unveil the oh-so sexy pink pressing of Charly Bliss’ Guppy.
And it’s absolutely worthy of that sort of fanfare, by the way.
Battle of the Bandbox
This is typically where I would feature a full on rock and roll death match between the two albums I’ve selected for one Bandbox or another. As I only selected one disc this month, we can skip all the fisticuffs … which is just fine because this fresh pressing of Guppy is a total knockout.
That being said, I’m beyond happy to crown the inimitable Charly Bliss and their kick ass debut record Guppy the undisputed champs of July’s Battle of the Bandbox. All hail Charly Bliss!!!
It’s the Bandbox You Want, And The Bandbox You Need
Look, the so-called “vinyl boom” is not gonna fade away anytime soon. If you’re one of the many who have found themselves giddily wrapped up in the madness, you already aware there are a million and one different options for getting your hands on some sweet, sweet wax. While I’d always encourage you to shop first at your local record store, I also understand that subscription vinyl clubs are an excellent way to help fill in/round out your growing collection.
If you’re looking to round out that collection a little sooner than later, a vinyl club that’s down to send you one, or even two worthy records every month is a pretty good way to do it. With Bandbox delivering high-quality pressings of albums by popular artists, they’re giving you a chance to both grow your collection with lust-worthy popular discs and discover deep dive delights you might previously have overlooked. That savvy mix of quality and variety should make it easy for diehard vinyl fans and newbs alike to board the Bandbox bandwagon. Make sure you get on board today!
A huge THANKS to the folks at Bandbox for sponsoring this subscription. If you like what you’ve seen here, you can head over to the official Bandbox website and sign up to have a sexy new Bandbox delivered to your own front door every single month. Be sure to check back in and see what goodies the Bandbox team sends our way next month!