THE BOX SOCIAL – Blown to Bits EP
(2005 No Karma Recordings)
If Local H had twice as many band members and half as much angst, then they would sound like the Box Social, which also translates into being a lot more fun. This is obvious everywhere, from their hilarious, occasionally self-deprecating liner notes, which clarify that the while the Brontosaurus never actually existed, “Brontosaurus Rock” is still a cool song title, to their snarky web site ,which simultaneously amuses and insults (“Hey! You! Fat Kid! Our CD came out yesterday! Why the f*** don’t you have it yet!”). Anything in the latter category links to the nonexistent www.wahhhmylittlecousinmightseethiswahhhh.com. All of which makes me think the Box Social are probably a lot of fun live, too. With multiple gigs in the Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago triangle, there are plenty of chances to see them.
Packed full of cymbal-crashing, pulse-pounding goodness, the EP often recalls Pinkerton-era Weezer, starting with the prehistoric crush of “Brontosaurus Blues.” While numerous things seem to be contributing to their blues, the most amusing lament is that “This album is a little more annoying than I hoped / But I guess it’s got a winner here and there / I really hate to say I kinda wish I’d saved my cash / So I could buy some Billy Joel or Fred Astaire.” Before you get too upset over the reference, they do note in the liner, “We know Fred Astaire is a dancer. Get over it.” It does rhyme, after all. Perhaps the catchiest of their instant anthems is the head-nodding “Hold the Phones,” a double-time update of Local H’s hit “Bound For the Floor.” As with all five of these songs, the key to their immediate impact is the high-octane pounding of drummer Brian Peoplis.
“Scary Dream” begins with an almost Franz Ferdinand-esque guitar riff and drum beat before Nick Junkung’s appealing almost-losing-his-voice vocals turn it into another rocker. It’s a rant relating the details of a nightmare in which he hears voices telling him to slay and becomes a king and proceeds “to separate their necks and backs.” Yikes, no wonder he proclaims this not the kind of dream you want to tell your friends. Of course, it is just a dream, as the chorus makes clear-: “Wake up get up. What are you waiting for?/ Wake up, get up. Well, we’re almost done now.” Whew. The Milwaukee-based label No Karma is a perfect place for this Madison/Milwaukee quartet. Home to other like-minded bands from all over the Midwest, it boasts an impressive stable of artists who, like the Box Social, all have a way with a hook.