Bandbox Unboxed Vol. 38 – The War on Drugs ‘Live Drugs’
Prepare your turntable for heavy rotation spinners vinyl fans, ’cause Bandbox is out to bring the record store to your own front door.
Groove is in the Bandbox
That’s right music fans, Bandbox is now a premiere online record store offering you the chance to fill your box with albums from artists spanning every genre. As their slogan goes, it’s pretty much like having the record store delivered to your front door. And Bandbox is indeed boasting a record store style variety of artists and albums, 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 exclusive color pressings of albums from an artist you adore, and a fresh edition of Bandbox’s artist-specific fan zine, the B-Box crew has effectively made it possible to do a little legit bin-diving from the comfort your very own home.
So what did I scoop from Bandbox this month? A truly jaw-dropping reissue of The War on Drugs’ aptly-titled live album, Live Drugs.
As you might’ve heard, Bandbox is no longer subscription service, having recently gone the way of full-blown online marketplace. And all that really means is shopping with Bandbox has never been a more “you get out exactly what you put in” sort of thing.
Let the Great World Spin
As for myself, I took to the site this month to jump on a beyond exciting, exclusive pressing of The War on Drugs’ 2020 road chronicle Live Drugs. And yes, despite the fundamental change in how Bandbox is selling, each exclusive still comes with one of those trademark fanzines. Here’s a quick look.
I must admit, this month’s color variant is maybe the best looking Bandbox has ever delivered. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at what else is in the box. Like this slick, tip-on gatefold fronting killer holographic cover art.
That holographic strip adorns the back cover as well. Along with a setlist for this epic live release.
This little bit of foil-stamping tells you how involved the Bandbox team was in bringing this lavish artifact to the masses.
Inside that gatefold, you’ll find a couple of inner sleeves with pics and album credits aplenty.
Live Drugs (2020)
Historically, I’ve had a full-on of a love-hate relationship with live albums on vinyl. That’s largely because I’ve been burned more than one bad pressing of such offerings in the past. My general wariness aside, I was fully stoked to hear The War on Drugs were putting a live record out a few years back as I’d seen them in concert a couple of times myself and thoroughly enjoyed there show each time.
Even still, I never actually pulled the trigger on Live Drugs because I wasn’t a big fan of the setlist chosen for the album. Mostly, I’m a huge fan of the band’s first two albums – 2008’s Wagonwheel Blues, and 2011’s immaculate Slave Ambient – and there weren’t many selections from either album included. Nonetheless, Live Drugs always felt like an album I should own, so I was pretty damn thrilled when Bandbox announced it as an exclusive.
As happy as I am to report that the packaging, colorway, and fan zine that came in this month’s Bandbox are across the board stunning, I’m even happier to report that Live Drugs is an absolute ripper of a live album. It, of course, rips in that very specific way that The War on Drugs frontman Adam Granduciel and his bandmates rip, but if you know what that’s about, you know the ticket is worth the price.
Hell, even if you don’t know, you could do a hell of a lot worse than finding out with Live Drugs, which sounds exactly the way any live music lover could ever hope a live album should. Honestly, even the tracks on the album I couldn’t really get into in their album form (mostly those off of 2017’s underwhelming, and overproduced A Deeper Understanding) are beyond impressive here. And yes, even me, an A Deeper Understanding hater recognizes the epic “Thinking of a Place” as an unrivaled standout on Live Drugs.
In case it wasn’t clear, Live Drugs is not just a surprisingly solid, and ingeniously assembled live album, it’s one of the better live vinyl releases I’ve ever heard. And hearing the album this way now is making me regret not picking it up years ago. Frankly, it’s making me regret not picking up numerous live albums released in the past couple of decades.
Anyway, if you want to read an interview with Granduciel waxing poetic on his band, his music, and his unique approach to assembling Live Drugs, issue #84 of the Bandbox zine more than has you covered.
Yes, those are actually The War on Drugs inspired baseball cards on the back cover of that zine. It’s one of the coolest things Bandbox has ever done zine-wise. And as already noted, the same can easily be said for the multi-color effect selected for this double LP pressing of Live Drugs.
In case there’s any doubt, it’ll look, and sound just as immaculate on your turntable.
It’s the Bandbox You Want and the Bandbox You Need
I’ll be the first to admit to being bummed Bandbox is no longer a strict subscription service. But given the way supply chain delays have been affecting them in recent months, it’s not hard to understand why the change was necessary.
Changes aside, I’m happy to report the product Bandbox releases is as strong as it’s ever been. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to head over to the the official Bandbox site to scoop up a copy of Live Drugs, you might be a bit disappointed as it apparently sold out in less than 24-hours. Rest assured there are still plenty of covet-worthy offerings in stock. Don’t miss out.