Home Reviews Bandbox Unboxed Vol. 31 – Julien Baker

Bandbox Unboxed Vol. 31 – Julien Baker

by Patrick Phillips
Bandbox

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 subscribers 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 in this month’s Bandbox? An indie folk masterpiece from the inimitable Julien Baker.

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Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews
Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews
Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews

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

The basics have officially been covered. So let’s have a look at what you’re actually getting in your box, shall we? This month, I was able to score Bandbox’s recent exclusive pressing of Julien Baker’s sophomore stunner Turn Out The Lights. And I gotta say, coupled with a fan zine that re-defines the term “deep dive,” this may be one of the strongest releases yet from the Bandbox gang. Check it out.

Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews
Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews
Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews

Now, as each Bandbox comes with an exquisitely crafted zine, there typically aren’t a bunch of extras included with their exclusive releases. Turn Out The Lights does, however, come with a snazzy, two-sided poster tucked away in that dust sleeve. Check it out.

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Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews

Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights (2017)

Terms like “boldly original voice” and “unique sound” get tossed about on the regular in the indie realm. But if you follow the indie music scene on even a casual basis, you know they’re probably used a bit too often. Every once in a while an artist or band comes along who is legitimately worthy of such labels. And if you’ve ever heard the music of Julien Baker, you know she’s one of them.

Baker burst onto the scene in 2015 on the strength of her debut album Sprained Ankle, an album written in her dorm room, and recorded on donated studio time when she was just 20-years-old. Fronting Baker’s quavering voice, and soul-baring lyrics that could’ve made even Elliott Smith weep, the folk-tinged release would go on to become one of the best-reviewed albums of 2015, landing on numerous end of years lists to boot.

If Sprained Ankle heralded the arrival of a major new talent on the indie scene, its 2017 followup Turn Out The Lights proved Julien Baker was no one-hit wonder. If anything, the followup proved the young singer/songwriter had only teased her talent, and artistic ambition with her debut. While Baker’s songs continued to flaunt raw-nerve explorations of her struggles with faith, sexuality, addiction, mental illness, and the myriad hazards that come with being a part of humanity, her sound was a bit more refined this go round, thanks largely to the backing of Matador Records, who helped book the singer time in Memphis’ famed Ardent Studios to record.

Baker made the most of the moment, adding sonic layers to her new songs she could likely have only dreamed of while recording her debut, while still maintaining that album’s deeply intimate tone. Though piano, strings, and woodwind accompaniments are welcome additions to Baker’s arsenal, her powerful voice and sparse, yet often fierce guitar work are again the stars of the show. That combination of elements Turn Out The Lights to play through in a mix of hushed resonance and near operatic emotionalism capable of turning any listener in an emotional puddle on the floor by.

By album’s end, that’s exactly where most listeners will be. Yes, Turn Out The Lights is a daringly dramatic piece of work. But life is nothing if not dramatic. With these 11 songs, Baker paints a stunning portrait of a tumultuous one lived as much in light and darkness as it is the far more frequent spaces in-between. And as for the wax you’ll be hearing those songs on, well, it’s a work of art in and of itself.

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If you’re already a fan of Julien Baker, you know her story is a genuinely fascinating one. So too is the recording of Turn Out The Lights. And if you want to know a little more about each, Bandbox’s Baker-centric zine is a truly legit place to do it.

Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews
Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews
Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews
Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews
Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews

And just for the record, if you think that pressing of Turn Out The Lights looks good, just wait until you hear it on your system.

Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, bandbox unboxed vol. 31 - julien baker, reviews

It’s the Bandbox You Want and the Bandbox You Need

The vinyl boom 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. While Turn Out The Lights appears to be sold out at the moment, you can still grab a copy of Baker’s equally-excellent 2021 release Little Oblivians! And yes, you really should.

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!

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