The Box Social – Blown to Bits EP

The Box Social
Blown to Bits EP

Combining the sound of early-90s Sub Pop bands like Mudhoney and Soundgarden with the swagger of more recent throwbacks like Danko Jones and Part Chimp, The Box Social’s third EP, Blown to Bits, delivers heaviness with a punch. Its pop sensibilities still manage to emerge from the sludge, though, proving that you don’t have to sacrifice your hooks in pursuit of your grunge credibility. Attaching the “grunge” label to a band these days may sound like the kiss of death, but it’s only a matter of time before the revival hits.

With songs titles like “Limb From Limb,” “Brontosaurus Blues,” and “Blown to Bits,” this EP looks like something that may have found a home on Amphetamine Reptile had it been released a decade ago. In fact, based on the liner notes and some of the song lyrics, you might think The Box Social is a reincarnation of The Cows. How many other bands of this type would get away with lyrics such as “This album is a little more annoying than I’d hoped / But I guess it’s got a winner here and there. / But I really hate to say I kinda wish I’d saved my cash / So I could buy some Billy Joel or Fred Astaire,” much less make them the first lyrics you hear on the release?

Blown to Bits has a pretty full sound, overall, with loud AC/DC guitars and a tight rhythm section. On the EP closer “Limb From Limb,” you even get some cowbell – maybe just in case you didn’t notice how tongue-in-cheek the band is. After all, if the band isn’t afraid to make fun of itself in its lyrics, it makes sense that they’d work in the cowbell cliche at some point.

The verses on “Scary Dream” have a high bassline that cuts through the mix, actually carrying the melody for a time – a welcome variation for this kind of music. And it’s worth noting that singer Nick Jungkung can actually sing – another welcome variation. Almost unexpectedly, he doesn’t just scream his lyrics. Wiseacres like Jungkung have their precedents in The Dismemberment Plan and Anne Summers, certainly, but it’s kind of refreshing to have a new addition to the pantheon. Plus, I’ll bet The Box Social is a lot of fun to see live.