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iTunes Review

Where the Boxer Rebellion's 2005 debut album Exits hinted at potential, 2009's Union will inevitably draw comparisons to Coldplay, the Verve, and Radiohead. Union is less moody than Exits and not nearly as dark — the songs here are catchier and uplifting. "Flashing Red Light Means Go" opens confidently with Piers Hewitt pounding out a galloping drum beat as Nathan Nicholson sings passionately in Brit-rock's prerequisite nasal-tinged inflection, recalling bits of Liam Gallagher, Richard Ashcroft and BRMC's Peter Hayes before his falsettos athletically arch upwards in a Thom Yorke/Chris Martin croon. But it's Todd Howe's guitars that display the most versatility, jangling like John Squire of the Stone Roses one moment and howling with blissed-out shoegaze tones the next (à la Slowdive in the early ‘90s). "Evacuate" is a standout with its post-punk dance beats, buzzing guitars and Nicholson belting out his best vocal performance to date. The melodies sound endlessly ascending and there are moments of impassioned brilliance akin to some of U2's early recordings.

Customer Reviews

My Choice - Album of the Decade!

A bold statement to be sure, but if you are at all like me, missing sweeping, deep and epic music, the likes we have not seen for some time (I would say since U2, REM and a few others at their prime), then The Boxer Rebellion is here to make you believe again. Union, the band’s sophomore effort following up 1995’s Exits, is one incredible audible journey from beginning to end. The album stands out as a whole, with one track flowing seamlessly into the next. When looking at the album track by track there are several songs that should be considered instant classics, and a few that may not overwhelm, but all in all I have not heard an album this deep front to back for well over 10 years. The individual tracks: Flashing Red Light Means Go: This is the song that first made me a fan of TBR when I stumbled across the demo over a year ago, a cacophony of drums and acoustic guitar, building to a chorus full of yearning. This track is one of the aforementioned classics. ***** Move On: Another classic track, Move On takes me back to the soundscape created by U2 circa The Joshua Tree, a joyful wide open expanse of meaning and melody. This is anthemic music at its finest! ***** Evacuate: My only personal issue with the album is with its first single. When Evacuate was first released as a demo some time ago, it was a straight at you, incredible rock track. What it lacked in the layered depth from the other tracks on Union, it made up for in energy. Evacuate was re-done for Union, with the new version loosing much of the steam from the original, and in my opinion, coming out weaker because of it. While a good track as it stands, it could have been a great track. ***1/2 Soviets: A travelogue, if you will. Another classic track, starting with subdued vocals and acoustic guitar, until slowly building in intensity and reaching the heavens. This track is pure melodic bliss. ***** Spitting Fire: This track has become my personal favorite, in an album with so many classic tracks. There is something both sweet and moving about the song, it just puts a smile on your face, and removed the weight from your shoulders after a long day. In short, Spitting Fire is the musical equivalent of single malt Scotch ;-) ***** Misplaced: Wow, this song chokes me up to the point that words fail me. It reminds me of having the holiday blues, taking a nighttime stroll with a light snow falling on your face, alone with your thoughts and sadness. This song reaches into such depths of the soul, a classic……….. ***** The Gospel of Goro Adachi: This is a great track to follow Misplaced. It has a brooding, distant and dreamlike quality. It continues the albums’ “Heart of Darkness” started with the former track, taking things down a few notches, going from anthemic to reflective and moody. These Walls are Thin: A nice little track, but nothing classic here. It has an incredible rhythm, but seems unfinished to me. It comes across more like a B-Side, and sounds a little out of place. It is, nonetheless, a good track. *** Forces: This track, from what I understand, is a fan favorite at live TBR shows. However, like These Walls are Thin, it seems unfinished, and a bit out pf place on the album (would have fit well in TBR’s last album, Exits). It lacks the lyrical and melodic depth of the majority of the tracks on Union, still, not a bad track. *** Semi-Automatic: Another classic track that starts slow, and steadily builds to an anthemic climax. This is a very well structured song, and a great second to last track. ***** Silent Movie: One of the best album closers I have heard in years. It is a perfect finale, and like most of its brethren on Union, starts soft and slowly builds to a crescendo. ****1/2 Union is an outstanding achievement in music, the fact that The Boxer Rebellion is still unsigned (criminal, IMHO), only makes it that much more impressive of a feat. This is simply, in my humble opinion, the album of the decade thus far, with TBR surpassing their contemporaries.

No sophomore slump here

There is a noticable gain in sophistication over their first album, Exits. At the same time the raw energy and sincerity are undiminished. The qualities that make this band stand apart from the rest, for me - in as few words as possible - would be 'taste', 'intelligence', and 'sense of proportion'. The tracks stand out to me in particular are: "Move On", "Evacuate", "Misplaced", "Forces", and "Silent Movie". None strike me as being there just as filler.

Thank you Itunes

There are some absolutely great tracks on here and this is the first time Itunes has actually turned me on to some great music through the free single of the week but this alone makes up for all the other horrible free singles of the week because it led me to this album. The whole album is great but standouts for me are Flashing Red Light Means Go, Move On, Evacuate, and Silent Movie, but there isn't a bad track on here. It reminds me sometimes of Muse and other times of Radiohead, and other times of nothing that I can put my finger on, which is always a good thing.


Formed: 2003 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Boxer Rebellion's moody clatter drew from a cross-section of acts including the Verve, Radiohead, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. They weren't to be confused with the late 19th century uprising in China, or even the Philadelphia punk revivalists who shared their name. Based in London, the quartet started around 2002 when visiting American student Nathan Nicholson met guitarist Todd Howe, who was originally from Australia. The two soon hooked up with Englishmen Piers Hewitt (drums) and Adam Harrison...
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Union, The Boxer Rebellion
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