By Greg “Red” Lehman
You’ve probably heard Boxer Rebellion, but didn’t know it.
I’m not talking about the historical proto-nationalist movement opposing Western imperialism and Christianity in China between 1898 and 1901, but the unsigned music group that creates masterful, musical pieces of art.
They are one of those bands that you might hear in a movie, a TV show or an advertisement and say to yourself “Who was that? That guy’s voice was incredible.”
Being a slightly neurotic music lover, I often scribble down lyrics on the back of an ATM receipt or add a note to my smartphone so I can research it later. It was in this manner that I first heard the song “Watermelon” in the The Football Factory back in 2004.
I heard them again while watching the 2004 film The Forgotten (which was, indeed, otherwise easily forgotten).
They also frequently popped up in my “bands you may also like” recommendations on various music websites. I finally succumbed and listened to the band’s album, Union, in April of 2010 and damn if the computer wasn’t right. I do like them. In fact, I was embarrassed that I hadn’t already bought everything the band had released.
Boxcar Rebellion’s music reminds me of a modern day Peter Gabriel with sounds and vocals churning around a rhythm ranging from a cathartic undulating to a testosterone-driven schoolyard fight. And I’m in absolute awe of the voice of Nathan Nicholson. His ability to take words and vocally attach them to the emotional center of the brain is the best in the business. (If you own all the Radiohead, all the Editors, all the Doves albums and think your music collection is complete in this genre, you are very mistaken.)
Do yourself a huge favor and listen to their new album, The Cold Still, recorded with Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Ours, Ryan Adams). Hits such as “No Harm”, “Step Out of the Car (single”, “Cause for Alarm” and “Doubt” are so hypnotizing you may forget to breathe.
Oh, and in complete “Boxer Rebellion” style they not only have a few songs on the soundtrack to the recently-released Drew Barrymore / Justin Long romantic comedy Going the Distance, this time the band even makes a guest appearance in the movie.