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Recs from The Boxer Rebellion

posted February 17, 2010, 8:01 am by dscanland | Filed Under Recommendations from the Celebrity Mind | comment Leave a Comment

Tags: Fink, Boxer Rebellion, Hawksley Workman, Iain Archer, Engineers

The Boxer Rebellion

London, UK’s The Boxer Rebellion had the honor of having their self-released album, Union, being named iTunes best alternative album of 2009. Pretty good without having the clout of a label behind you. Drummer Piers Hewitt gave us some other great recommendations for some tunes to check out:

1) Engineers – Engineers
A thoroughly under-rated album upon release. Their split from Echo Records in the UK nearly meant that their recordings bit the dust, but even if they had, there was still this gem to get your teeth into. There’s some real shoegazing going here, but in a grand way. Big sounds, big harmonies, big melodies. At one stage, in final track, One In Seven, you begin to wonder if music could get more epic. The kind of album that travelling on water was made for.

2) Iain Archer – Flood The Tanks
A one time member of Snow Patrol (but for some of you, don’t let that put you off!), I have been a fan of this guy ever since I first saw him when I was 16. His initial astounding ability to do things to an acoustic guitar that sound like they can’t be taught, and then sing beautiful songs over the top got me into him at first, but on Flood The Tanks, he takes on a much more solid stance in music-making. There are some heartbraking moments, which if listened to whilst walking in the snow could tip you over the edge, and there are a couple of massive singles that in radio’s eyes at least, were never really singles. But it contains lines that stick in your head at times when you don’t even want them to, all accompanied by a bunch of musicians (or at least musical parts) that know when not to play – often a massive key to a great record.

3) Neil Finn – Try Whistling This
Having always been a fan of Crowded House, I remember being a little wary of Neil Finn (lead singer) releasing his first solo stuff. I needn’t have worried. In the same way that Elliot Smith did on Figure 8, Neil delivers tunes on this album that are reminiscent of what you’d imagine The Beatles would come up with if they were still around as a band today. Full of countless melodies and harmonies that you just wish you’d come up with yourself, and yet never obvious – just subtle and striking. It’s better than any Crowded House album and better than anything he’s done since. I could sing you every word, which coming from someone who is pretty forgetful, is saying something.

4) Hawksley Workman – For Him And The Girls
I stumbled across this Canadian at the smallest of clubs in London almost 10 years ago. Normally it is on record that an artist catches you, and you go and see them play to see if they can still hold it together. I didn’t need to hear this guy first. From the off, he was like nothing I’d ever heard. Theatrical at times, but with a voice that was always under control whilst doing things that would put the fear of God into someone like Britney Spears. Excellent on a number of instruments, and on record he captures his live feeling voice brilliantly somehow. This is quirky, yes, but there is still a sense of songmanship here. Nothing is weird for weird’s sake. It would be wrong to compare this to anything really, like a record shop. It’s a work all of his own with barely a dudd on here. Buy the record, but more importantly see him live.

5) Fink – Distance And Time
Fink is essentially the brainchild of Fin Greenall, though there are full band touches on here. Yeah, another singer-songwriter, but it would be the ultimate show of laziness to even mention Fink in the same breath as James Morrison, or even worse James Blunt. No, like Iain Archer, Fink take it to an acoustic level reminiscent of John Martyn. The kind of playing that makes you think they’d look after their guitar better than any human being, but again, like Iain, (or John) never losing the point of what they’re doing, which is making songs. This is a very chilled out affair, though the quality is such that it shouldn’t be sending you to sleep like so many other artists that seem to be attracted to this genre.


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