The Boxer Rebellion has been a band for 10 years. Four guys from all over the world, that call the UK home, just released their 3rd full length, The Cold Still. It could easily be defined upfront as the sound of London at night. It’s produced by Ethan Johns (The Jayhawks, Ray LaMontagne, Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon) and it follows up the self-produced 2009 release, Union, which landed the collective a major label contract. They recently made their first American televised performance on Letterman earlier this year and after working with the respected producer, Johns, on ‘Cold Still,’ hard work, musical influence and a common bond between the original four members are starting to pay their dues. It’s hard to not think of other great, grand, rock n’ roll bands that have come to our musical attention from across the pond- the same bands that create pop cultural overthrows- when listening to The Boxer Rebellion.
‘Bullet proof, I wish I was, Sunday, bloody Sunday, yellow, and asleep at the wheel.’ You’ll be hard pressed not to compare The Boxer Rebellion to other great bands that sprung from the other side of the Atlantic, as well as to a few American bands who have defined the sound of our large metropolitan cities at night (The National, Interpol). Fellow elder UK statesmen influence (like Elbow) breathes large over these recordings; moody, atmospheric, pulsating, tight explorations on rhythm, especially on tracks, No Harm, and Locked in a Basement.
Ethan Johns’ production rarely detours the ‘Rebellion’ from their core, live performance strengths. In the past, his work with American songwriters, sounded like ‘an Ethan Johns production.’ In this case, the band is definitely in control, and he lets them play. The 10 songs on The Cold Still pays dues to the youthful, and politically punk, musical leanings of U2 & The Smiths, Step Out of The Car; and also Bends-era, mid-90s, Radiohead, Both Sides are Even. It’s obvious after multiple listens of ‘Still’ (and their previous releases) that this is a great, hard working, live band that is working very hard to be just as memorable with their time in the studio.
Despite comparisons called out above, The Boxer Rebellion‘s sound is not that of another ‘cover’ band composing original material sprung from many other great UK bands’ direction. If anything is understood by listening to the grand and brotherly performances on The Cold Still, they’re the next, brave rock n’ roll band worthy of the company mentioned that many rock n’ roll bands are unable to artistically & commercially live up to. By the sounds of The Cold Still, the world is theirs for the taking— if they so dare want it.
Read Part 2: An interview with Adam Harrison, of The Boxer Rebellion. The Boxer Rebellion will be performing at The Rave in Milwaukee, WI on 04.21.2011; and in Chicago at The Double Door on 04.22.2011. More information can be found by clicking here.