The Boxer Rebellion
The Cold Still


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
February 13th, 2011 | 47 replies | 12,931 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Progressive, sublime alt-rock that will fill you with a peaceful aura.

A single green leaf graces the cover of The Cold Still, suggesting a mild, animate approach to The Boxer Rebellion’s third studio album. It stands in stark contrast to the title – one that alludes to lifelessness; a barren and uninhabited landscape entombed by the deep freeze of winter. The Cold Still feels like the emergence of that green foliage through the harsh elements, offering hope to the rest of the vital, functioning world. With that viable nature comes an overwhelming feeling of peace, like rays of sunlight returning the warmth and tranquility to an area that was once abandoned by everything living. The Cold Still is serene, uplifting, and accomplished – and likely one of the best soft rock albums you will hear this year.

The Boxer Rebellion have crafted a sound that is undeniably haunting – something between the likes of Coldplay, Radiohead, and The National – and spread it out across layers of alt-rock ambiance. Lead vocalist Nathan Nicholson is often reminiscent of Dredg’s Gavin Hayes, but with the versatility to employ a sound as different as that of The Killers’ Brandon Flowers. The instrumentation anchoring The Cold Still is almost exclusively geared towards concocting a vivid atmosphere, as the weighty drums, U2-like ooh ooh’s, and echoed acoustic picking all come into play at various points in the album. The record thrives on the mid-tempo rock song, favoring delves into balladry over ascension into a heavier sound. The wave-like progression from one track to another is expertly arranged, and it is just one aspect that allows the album to thrive to such an admirable extent. For some, the thought of another indie/alt-rock band vying to become the next Radiohead would be a complete turn-off. Luckily, The Boxer Rebellion are at the top of their game, combining the aforementioned influences with masterful execution of their own unique craft. And at ten songs that total just under forty minutes, The Cold Still will leave you salivating for more.

Although the sound is not entirely their own, at no point do the band’s efforts feel cheapened; the album successfully blends The Boxer Rebellion’s primary influences with unique traits that ever-so-subtly distinguish them from their peers. The Cold Still is extremely consistent, as every song carries its weight in terms of the album’s overarching atmosphere while also contributing something entirely unique from the other nine tracks. The opener “No Harm” errs on the side of repetitiveness, but it is forgivable because it swells with an unforgettably luscious chorus and gently swaying verses. The buzzing guitars in “Step Out of the Car” pick up the pace with an almost punk-rock type of feel before the record returns to its forte in the moody, percussion driven “Locked in the Basement.” “Organ Song” delivers what it promises, and surprisingly dodges clichés with a resoundingly upbeat tone that ushers in the second half of the track list. “The Runner” just might be the most important song on The Cold Still, with an exploding urgent chorus, unraveling of tension through the verses, and energetic guitar backing that will make the song a fan favorite during live settings. “Doubt” ends the album with a beautiful, gentle ballad and a distorted solo to close everything out. There is no doubt, however, that something unusually great has transpired by this point on The Cold Still.

The Boxer Rebellion are coming into their own, and this album is proof that they might even be on their way to the pinnacle of ambient alt-rock. For now, that green leaf sprouting out of the ground is but a shrub. But if The Boxer Rebellion continue to hone in on their craft by showering it with creative raindrops and warming it with bright rays of personality, they may eventually stand tall with some of the other greats – the towering forests of Radiohead, Coldplay, and The National. No longer cold and no longer still, this is a band quickly rising towards the top.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Stream
http://www.spinner.com/new-releases#/4

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2011



7141 Comments


Great review SS. The sustaining of the forest imagery throughout was interesting.

Also - U2-like ooh ooh’s

A No Line on the Horizon reference?

Slum
February 13th 2011



2579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

haha I was planning on reviewing this today. Great review, man. I think it's a little too samey for my tastes

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 13th 2011



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review. I need to give this a listen.

bodiesinflight57
February 13th 2011



869 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

decent record. not as good as their last though.
TBR are really nice guys, I interviewed them back in October and they invited me for drinks afterwards!

CrisStyles
February 13th 2011



766 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Certain songs definitely have a Coldplay/Radiohead sound to them.

DoubtGin
February 13th 2011



6748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

the opener is fantastic;

the rest isn't as good as that one, but it's a great album nevertheless

Romulus
February 13th 2011



8411 Comments


really nice review sowing, i gave this a quick listen and thought it was pretty solid. not sure what i would rate it yet but i'll give it some more listens

Leviathan8937
February 13th 2011



264 Comments


I have heard union and I like it ,I'm gonna to check out this album

acorncheese
February 13th 2011



7119 Comments


Didn't even know these guys were still around

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks everyone, and Irving, I'm curious as to what reference I could have made? Haha maybe I'm just slow.

Slum, sorry if I stole your thunder, I'd love to see your review of this!

Doubtgin, I actually feel the opposite. I think the 2nd and 3rd tracks, along with the second half of the album, are where the strengths are.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2011



7141 Comments


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oKwnkYFsiE

This song is just loaded with them "Oooh-ooohs" lol. Also, although Bono's activism posturing drives me up the wall, these guys are by far my favourite band in the world. I guess they're my Brand New, and The Joshua Tree is my TDAG =)

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Song was pretty good, I have always liked U2 and I don't understand the abuse they get sometimes. At the same time, I think they aren't the gods that some people make them out to be. As a band I give them a 3.5 haha

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2011



7141 Comments


That's a fair grade to be honest. Some of their works are a bit overrated (All That You Can't Leave Behind and The Unforgettable Fire, for example), but by and large the bulk of their material is phenomenal. In addition, the sound changes that they went through over their past thirty years blows my mind.

Try this experiment: play a bit of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bad, Desire, The Fly, Lemon, Mofo, and Vertigo - in that order. The breadth of their sonic palette is pretty cool =)

Sorry for prattling on and on Sowing - Imma U2 fanboy =p

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I'll actually do that, it has been a while since I have listened to U2 and I do like them.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2011



7141 Comments


I hope you realize that listening to a U2 playlist that I myself concocted is an even better gesture than enduring a Justin Bieber acoustic song from start to finish on my behalf =)

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I have all of those songs so I def will

Waior
February 14th 2011



11425 Comments


If this is anywhere near as this band's other two albums, it's going to be good. I feel like you reviewed this at random and the writing might've been a little better if you'd researched enough to give proper context.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2011



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This is the first album I heard by the band, the research I did do seemed to indicate that their prior albums were nothing of great significance...what did I write that came off as uninformed or in the wrong context? If you don't mind me asking? Appreciate it as always though

Waior
February 14th 2011



11425 Comments


A bit uninformed - sentences like your closer "No longer cold and no longer still, this is a band quickly rising towards the top" seem a bit contrived just because they were never really cold nor still and have always been a very mature, impressive band with decent enough momentum.

It's still a good review, mind you, but in the future I will recommend really fleshing out a band's history in order to place it in the discography contextually; makes for a better read.



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