The story goes J. Robbins received a brochure with his new satellite dish with the invitation to “Meet the Channels,” conjuring visions of Fahrenheit 451 and Meet the Beatles simultaneously. From the sound of it, Channels’ (can you guess where the name came from?) and their debut EP, Open, should be another in the long line of (OK) computer nerds who’ve followed Radiohead’s lead and tried their hand at technology and its destruction of intercultural and interpersonal communications as inspiration.
It’s somewhat surprising then that Open‘s grandiose apocalyptic statements never come. The EP is fueled by under-driven guitars and the clean indie/post-punk sound of the mid-90’s, a given considering J. Robbins, the group’s singer and guitar player, made his name in Jawbox and later Burning Airlines. Channels focus their static-y racket through odd timbres and rhythms. We’ve all been waiting for the great rush of bands to try and emulate Modest Mouse’s recent success, Channels might be the first. However, Open (whose artwork also bears resemblance to Good News) falls way off of the Mouse’s mark.
Opener “Disconnection Day” lacks any sense of melody or genuine energy—the production sounds flat—and the vocals are so staggered musically I can’t imagine how the group managed to surround it with music. With nothing to stand on, the song collapses.
Unfortunately, Open doesn’t present any new ideas or offer its influences in a refreshing view. Especially recently, when music is being taken to new heights, the standards are raised. A lot of artists are finding they can’t keep up. Unfortunately, the second-rate, decade-old college rock sound that Open hangs its hat on is as obsolete as the satellite that inspired the project in the first place. Seriously, man—it’s called digital cable.