Boxer Rebellion, The Molotovs
Huw Evans 22/09/2009
The Molotovs kicked off the night with their brand of indie pop rock. 'Come To Grief' sounds like a classic indie track with horns. It grabbed my attention with some interesting baselines and some odd chords that sound a bit wrong and out of place towards the end of the song. They started the set a bit slowly but they did have my full attention by the end and although the guitarist used a lot of delay there was enough to keep me interested. They have a very Arctic Monkeys sound which is not my cup of tea and they do repeat some lyrics that left me feeling a little brainwashed. That said, look at where the 'Arctic Monkeys' are and if that's anything to go by The Molotovs could go far.
You have to admire The Boxer Rebellion for their resilience. Having had lead singer Nathan Nicholson on a life support machine just before a support tour with The Killers, then having their label implode after his year long recovery, most bands might have given up the ghost but the Boxer Rebellion fought on in the face of disaster. The album Exits was released in 2005 before the record label collapse and steadily gathered an underground following. In early 2009 Union was pre released on iTunes and 'Evacuate' became the first global iTunes single of the week. The album went top 5 on the iTunes album chart in the US and the UK. This was no more than they deserved given what the band had to endure and, being self-produced and independently released, hopefully they can put their label woes behind them.
'Flashing Red Light Means Go' is probably their stand out track and the way the guitarist Todd Howe bangs the drums at the start and end of the song left me wondering how many skins they must have to replace on tour! Nicholson's falsetto voice is flawless and lifts the chorus to another level while Todd's guitar adds to the epic and ghostly feel. 'Evacuate' feels more urgent from the outset with heavier guitars and driving constant drumming giving it an edgier feel. Nicholson tones down a little for 'Soviets' with his acoustic guitar and quips “notice how I have two identical acoustic guitars?”. 'Semi - Automatic' starts with a circulating arpeggio from guitarist Todd that effortlessly burrows its way into your head. It seems that guitarist Todd has an army of his own fans, who shout 'we love you Todd' in between songs, making the rest of the band feeling a little left out.
The Boxer Rebellion give a flawless performance on a Tuesday night at The Cardiff Barfly that left me feeling a little overdosed on delay. There's nothing essentially wrong with the sound these guys generate but it does get a little repetitive after a while and I can't help feeling that they could do with a little more variation. They have a sound reminiscent of an early Radiohead which can't be a bad thing and you could possibly draw comparisons to alt country act My Morning Jacket too. I do think they have massive potential and having the likes of Simon Pegg to sing their praises will only help to prop them up on their way to the top.