When One Door Closes, Another One Opens

artist: The Boxer Rebellion
album: Union

It’s the type of advice grandmothers give, the type of advice that doesn’t seem to make much sense when you receive it.  It mostly sounds like someone trying to soften the damage after you’ve had your ass handed to you.  Perhaps that’s how London’s The Boxer Rebellion felt when Poptones, the label that carried their selectively searing debut, Exits, folded in 2005.  Since then, The Boxer Rebellion have remained unsigned, but in 2009 they self-released their second album, Union, only on iTunes.  Union has garnered a good amount of buzz and guess what?  Physical copies are now available and include the exclusive bonus track, Broken Glass.  How’s that for incentive?

The Boxer Rebellion are Nathan Nicholson (from Tennessee, if you can believe it) (vocals), Todd Howe (lead guitar), Adam Harrison (bass) and Piers Hewitt (drums).  A bit cleaner than Exits, Union retains the intensity and magnitude of their sound.  They’ve been compared to Bends-era Radiohead, which I don’t see, and it seems like each time a band releases an album of big tunes that would sound great in concert, the U2 comparisons arise.  I don’t see that, either.  The sound is tight, the pace is varied and the drumming is fairly primal and booming.  Nicholson’s voice often soars high above the noise and always keeps things anchored.  Union commences with the excellent Flashing Red Light Means Go and from there it’s mid-tempo sweepers and straight ahead rockers like Move On, Misplaced and Forces.  There is even a bit of electronics tossed in, but nothing sounds dated or out of place.

Work has begun on a third album.  In the meantime, check out both Exits and Union.  Oh, another thing – Union was named Best Alternative Album of 2009 by the US version of ITunes.  The guys also played SXSW this year.  Seems like the best days lie ahead for The Boxer Rebellion.

Grandma would be proud.  She’d probably also say, “Told you so.”

– Thurdeen

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