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 super 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. What’s in this month’s box? Thanks to another round of shipping delays, we’ve got a two-for on tap with picks from indie stalwarts Alt-J and Jay Som. Have a look.
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 on your subscription 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
Yep, there are shiny new copies of both alt-J’s An Awesome Wave, and Jay Som’s Everybody Works in this month’s box. They’re two of the more high-profile indie albums of the past decade or so, and I’m happy to confirm the B-box crew knocked their discs, and zines out of the proverbial park. Here’s a look.
alt-J – An Awesome Wave (2012)
If you follow the indie scene even casually, you’ve almost certainly heard a bit about alt-J and their debut album An Awesome Wave. You’ve probably formed some very specific opinions on the album as well, because pretty much everybody did when it was released back in 2012. Yes, An Awesome Wave earned loads of critical praise, and even took home England’s coveted Mercury Prize in the year of its release. But even fans of the album might argue it’s genre-jumping antics left it feeling a bit disjointed on the whole.
That jumping was, of course, quite intentional on the band’s part, with alt-J setting out to make a rock album with a little something for everyone. In doing so, they – intentionally or not – conjured an album that sort of sounds Mumford & Sons making a Radiohead record. To be fair, that disparate blend of sounds and approaches is often quite brilliant, with the band doing better than anyone might’ve anticipated at weaving them together throughout An Awesome Wave. And when it works, they often hit on a sound that doesn’t harken back to either.
They never quite get there on An Awesome Wave, however, dodging almost manically between elevated easy-listening balladry and eerie post-modern symphonics. While there’s not really a bad song in the mix, I’ve always felt the overt changes in tone never lets you settle in and dig the album on the whole. In the end, An Awesome Wave is a breezy ride boasting enough genuinely intriguing moments to keep you interested, even as those moments are too often undercut with tracks that go down just a little too easy to fully register.
Jay Som – Everybody Works (2017)
On paper, Everybody Works should suffer from some of the same tonal problems as An Awesome Wave. And there’s no denying that Jay Som (aka Melina Duterte) hardly sticks to a single sonic palette on her sophomore release, opening the album with the near cinematic bedroom rock noodle “Lipstick Stain,” closing it with the down-tuned, ’90s indie tinged stunner “For Light,” and darting with no shortage of flair from sludgy rock anthems, to soulful ballads, and ’80s-infused synth grooves in between.
Duterte paints a colorful collection of pictures on Everybody Works to say the very least. Yet, for all of their tonal dexterity, the songs therein never feel like they’re working against each other. Duterte’s DIY approach to song craft plays a large role in unifying both those songs, and bleeds through the entirety of Everybody Works. And the artist proves herself a first rate, refreshingly insightful storyteller throughout the album to boot. She also proves she’s one of those rare songwriters who not only knows exactly how her songs should sound, but how to make them sound that way.
Perhaps most importantly, Duterte never feels like she’s writing songs to appeal to anybody but herself, and maybe the few close friends on Everybody Works. And to my admittedly side-wired brain, that intimacy makes them all the more accessible. Record sales would likely prove my theory flawed, of course, as Everybody Works hardly found the same audience the more grandiose, and radio-ready An Awesome Wave did. Still, it grooves just as hard, and conjures moments of such stark sonic purity, you’ll want to find a way to live in these songs long after the record ends.
A Cardboard Box for Sharing Music
By definition, a bandbox is: “a cardboard box, typically square, for sharing music.” Every single Bandbox lives up to that billing, allowing super fans of featured bands to delve deeper into their music and background than ever before via an artist-centric zine featuring interviews, album breakdowns, and killer behind-the-scenes photos.
Zine #78 goes behind-the-scenes of alt-J’s Mercury Prize winning breakthrough, and the band’s journey in the decade since its release.
And zine #76 more or less takes the same approach with Jay Som and Everybody Works.
An Awesome Wave
I’m a bit of a sucker for a little abstract cover art. And the cover for An Awesome Wave is one for the ages. It’s also a shiny gatefold with vital stats inside and out.
There’s a printed inner sleeve in there protecting this limited edition beauty too.
Like An Awesome Wave, this marbled purple pressing is a legit work of pop art.
On the topic of abstract cover art, Jay Som and crew delivered their own stunner with Everybody Works. And this Bandbox pressing comes in a minty alternate colorway from the original. It’s also a gatefold boasting loads more artwork.
We’ve got another printed inner protecting this copy of Everybody Works too. This one comes complete with full lyrics, and album credits.
And as for it’s exclusive color variant, well, it’s every bit as fresh as that minty alternative cover.
Battle of the Bandbox
After checking my notes, it seems we’ve endured an entire year of Bandbox fun without a good ole battle of the bands. And as much as I’d like to say this was a tight fight after such a lengthy absence, Jay Som easily earns the win here. What can I say except that the lo-fi charisma of Everybody Works has always connected with me on a more visceral level than An Awesome Wave. And holy smokes both the slick alternate cover art and matching vinyl make this Bandbox reissue the must-have version of Jay Som’s masterful sophomore release. All hail Jay Som!
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 totally that. And if you’re hot to take a spin with something you’ve never heard before, well, options abound in the Bandbox vaults. Happy spinning, gang!
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!