Prepare your turntable for heavy rotation spinners vinyl fans, ’cause Bandbox record club is out to bring the record store to your own front door.
Groove is in the Bandbox
That’s right music fans, Team Bandbox is offering a truly tailor made vinyl club experience every month by letting you fill your box with artists and albums that fit your own personal tastes. As their slogan goes, it’s pretty much like having the record store delivered to your front door every month. And Bandbox is currently boasting a record store style variety of artists with a treasure trove of exclusive pressings you really do not want to sleep on.
Having it your way really is the Bandbox mantra. Offering subscribers the choice of a single album from an artist you adore, and a fresh edition of Bandbox’s artist-specific fan zine showing up every single month, the B-Box service has effectively made it possible to do a little bin-diving from the comfort your very own home. And you can now dig their vinyl+zine treasures for a beyond reasonable $29 a month.
Did I mention Bandbox even offers FREE SHIPPING for members? They do. And it’s the icing on the record club cake. So what’s my latest Bandbox? Thanks to a little shipping hiccup, this month’s box came supersized with albums from glam punk-turned-roots-rocker Jesse Malin, and neo-shoegaze mavens Silversun Pickups.
Before we continue, you should know up front Bandbox’s format is designed to ease the nerves of folks wary of the record club scene. And yes, you can still choose to be surprised every month if surprises happen to be your bag. If you’re not feeling any of the album’s Bandbox is offering, you can also pump the brakes at any time by simply pausing 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 be every bit as amazing as you make it.
Let the Great World Spin
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s get down to business. And if you’re at all familiar with the names Jesse Malin and Silversun Pickups, you’re likely as stoked as I was to see how their Bandboxes came together. Rest assured, the B-box team not only selected worthy albums to focus on, but put together a pair of wildly enlightening zines for each. Check ’em out.
Jesse Malin – Sunset Kids (2019)
For a certain portion of the population, Jesse Malin will ever be best known as the frontman for the New York glitter-punk outfit D Generation. For those in the know about that band’s solid three album stretch in the 1990s (particularly 1996’s Ric Ocasek-produced No Lunch) it’s easy enough to understand why as they were pretty much the only legit-ish punk band of the day. Unfortunately, D Generation lived in relative punk rock obscurity throughout ’90s, and ultimately did what most punk bands do – break up.
Malin didn’t waste much time wallowing in the aftermath of D Generation’s demise, however, and promptly set to re-inventing himself as a full-time folk-rock troubadour in the vein of Neil Young and Steve Earle. And yes, Malin quickly proved he had the songwriting chops to make that career left-turn work, teaming with fellow rocker Ryan Adams to release a pair of well-received folk-forward solo albums in 2002’s The Fine Art of Self Destruction, and 2004’s “The Heat.”
Malin has since released seven more albums of rock-tinged Americana, with each establishing him as a singular songwriting talent whose flare for vivid imagery is matched only by his plain-spoken emotionalism. Sunset Kids is the eighth of Malin’s full lengths. And in the eyes of many, it’s his finest work yet. Released in the late-Summer of 2019, and produced largely by folk-country legend Lucinda Williams, Sunset Kids finds Malin on a pastoral sonic journey that explores the agonies and ecstasies of life through the eyes of an artist who’s seen plenty of both.
The album also finds Malin delivering a more polished sound than fans who’ve reveled in the rougher vibes of past works might be used to. At 14 tracks, Sunset Kids may also feel a little long for some, and since Malin doesn’t really push his sound that much throughout, it’s borderline repetitive at times. But if you let yourself settle into the softer soul of Sunset Kids, you’ll find the songs therein as absorbing, insightful, and free-wheeling as anything he’s ever released.
Just FYI – if you’re looking for a list of who did what on Sunset Kids, the printed inner sleeve has you covered. Flip it over for a full lyric breakdown of the entire album.
And as for the wax, it’s as pretty as a piece of candy, and sounds every bit as sweet.
You you might expect, the Jesse Malin zine takes marvelously in-depth look at one of the more intriguing careers in modern rock, and the making of Sunset Kids itself. Also… pretty pictures, man.
Now, who’s ready to have a gander at the Silversun Pickups’ Carnavas package? Here. We. Go.
Silversun Pickups – Carnavas (2006)
Did you ever stumble upon a band and love their sound so much that you just never really got over it. Silversun Pickups did. That band was ’90s alt-rock icons Smashing Pumpkins. And yes, Silversun Pickups have spent the bulk of their career in rock tinkering with the wall-of-guitars sound and screeching/emotive vocal arrangements that Billy Corgan and company traded on through much of their ’90s heyday.
That’s not a bad thing, for the record, because Silversun Pickups do the Smashing Pumpkins thing so well they almost make you forget that band ever existed. And even if every fuzzed-out riff, heavy bass line, and breathy lyric arrives as a loving homage to the Pumpkins (not to mention shoegaze icons My Bloody Valentine), Silversun Pickups never really sound like anyone but Silversun Pickups.
Carnavas is the band’s debut album. It arrived in 2006 after they’d spent a couple years cutting their teeth on L.A.’s Silverlake scene (even taking their name from a liquor store located directly across the street from the famed indie rock haven, Silverlake Lounge). And it’s one of those rare debut albums that finds a band so assured in their sound and abilities, it feels like they’ve been around for decades.
At nearly 70-minutes long, Carnavas is also one of the longer debuts you’ll find this side of the psychedelic/prog rock era. And indeed, there are moments throughout Carnavas that’ll leave even fans thinking, “I get it. Let’s move along now.” But those fleeting moments aside, Carnavas is an absolute ripper of a modern rock record as steeped in the sounds of shoegaze past as it is tinged with just a touch of power pop bluster. Yes, if you wanted to hear such songs, you could just go and queue up Siamese Dream for the millionth time. But if you’ve already tripped down that sonic highway once too often, Carnavas will prove a rollicking alternative route.
Yes, team Bandbox was so directly involved in making this Carnavas reissue happen, they actually got their name on the sleeve. Well done, kids.
Opinions differ on the necessity of digital downloads these days. But for old dorks like me who like to drop all their albums onto their iPod (yes, I still have an iPod), downloads are absolutely essential.
No fancy inner sleeves to speak of with this pressing of Carnavas, but when the wax comes out looking as phenomenal as these split-color beauties, it hardly matters.
And in case there were any question, the Silversun Pickups’ zine is a legit page-turner with more pretty pictures.
Battle of the Bandbox
I wish I could say this battle was a little tighter, but it wasn’t. Frankly, this month offered one of the easier choices I’ve had in the Battle of the Bandbox game. And with all due respect to Jesse Malin, and the lovely package the Bandbox gang put together for Sunset Kids, Silversun Pickups are indeed the champs of this month’s Battle… because not only does Carnavas still absolutely rip, that split color pressing is an absolute knockout. So give it up for February’s Battle of the Bandbox champs, folks!
It’s the Bandbox You Want and the Bandbox You Need
Vinyl is here to stay, friends. And if you’re one of the many who’ve found themselves fervently swept up in the madness, you’re already aware there’s a million and one ways to get your hands on some sweet, sweet wax. While I’d always encourage you to shop first at your local record store, subscription vinyl clubs really are an excellent way to help fill in/round out your growing collection.
The great thing about Bandbox is that they ultimately leave the decision-making up to you. So if you’re looking to snag a copy of your fave band’s most popular album on snazzy colored wax, you can do that. Ditto for some of those overlooked albums chock full of tasty deep cuts. Rest assured you’ll find vinyl treasures galore from each of this months artists in the fully-stocked Bandbox vaults.
A thousand THANK Yous to the folks at Bandbox for sponsoring this subscription. If you like what you’ve seen here, you can head over to the Bandbox website and sign up to have a sexy new Bandbox delivered to your own front door every single month. While you’re there, feel free to check out their podcast and merch section too! And be sure to check back soon to see what goodies we find in our next Bandbox!