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The Boxer Rebellion: Artists To Watch 2011

The Boxer Rebellion

Genre: Rock

Formed in London in 2001, alternative rockers The Boxer Rebellion are not exactly strangers to the U.S. charts. In 2009, the band tasted Stateside success with their second album "Union," which crashed onto the Billboard 200 album based on the strength of digital sales alone (becoming the first self-released album to do so). The record went on to be named iTunes' 2009's Alternative Album of the Year, and the buzz led to the group being featured in Drew Barrymore's 2010 film "Going the Distance."

But that respectable degree of success is looking to be eclipsed by the forthcoming fervor around the band's third studio album, "The Cold Still." Packed front-to-back with lush melodies, yearning vocals and swooning choruses that would tug at even Chris Martin's heartstrings, the ambitious album is an epic, effortless offering from a quartet dead set on perfecting their pop-rock craft.

To up their ante this time around, the fiercely independent group opted to let go of their production reigns for the first time. "For 'Union' … we recorded and produced it ourselves," says the band's Tennessee-bred lead singer Nathan Nicholson, "but on 'The Cold Still,' we wanted another opinion."

That second opinion came from famed producer Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne), who helped hone the sound of the band's dark, sophisticated songwriting on both upbeat rockers like the album's first single "Step out of the Car" and atmospheric ballads like "No Harm" and "Cause for Alarm."

"What I loved about them immediately is that they had their own identity," says Johns. "For a modern rock band, they don't really sound like anyone else. I just felt like they were really playing from the heart. I felt the emotional investment in what they were doing. It resonated with me immediately. It's like wow, these guys mean it."

"The Cold Still" will be available exclusively on iTunes U.S. starting Feb. 1.

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