Third self-released album from London-based The Boxer Rebellion straddles the art/ and the alt/ in their mix of the epic modern rock varietal with their third album The Cold Still, out now on iTunes and arriving on disc March 29. Having made a name for themselves as having their last album album Union be the first to break the U.S. Top 100 in sales without a physical release, The Boxers look to raise the ante with their latest, calling on in-demand producer Ethan Johns (The Kings of Leon, Laura Marling) to keep the arena-sized grandiosity tethered to a more organic vibe. Finding the hallowed ground between the large canvas works of everyone from Radiohead to Elbow to Coldplay, The Cold Still has atmosphere to burn while frontman (and Tennessee native) Nathan Nicholson's voice recalls, at times, a less manic David Gray...
The game of Spot the Influence can only go so far, though, and fortunately The Boxer Rebellion manage to move beyond the comparisons into a convincing self-defining mode. The rockers like "Step Out of the Car" and "Memo" are powered with a high-octane mix of ringing guitar riffs and regally anthemic choruses while never pandering to broad ego-driven impulses. The more haunting explorations -- the pulsing reverie "Both Sides Are Even", the shadowy, reverb-rich "Caught By the Light -- leave an even greater indelible impression, intelligent and articulate visions that draw you closer. And our favorite, the soaring "Organ Song", takes a simple melody and relentless busking stomp and emerges with direct punch to both the head and heart. Stream the full album at the BR site.
The Boxer Rebellion - "Organ Song" (from the album The Cold Still)
The Boxer Rebellion - "Caught By the Light" (from the album The Cold Still)
Photo: Tessa Angus