Channels – Open

ChannelsOpen (DeSoto)

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.

MP3 of “Chivaree” available via DeSoto Records.

5 thoughts on “Channels – Open”

  1. I don’t know if you can really fault a guy for doing something *he* basically invented, and has been doing his entire musical career. You may prefer not to listen to it, but that doesn’t make it a bad effort.

  2. It’s pretty brave to be saying that J. Robbins, one of Indie’s finest achievers, musicians, and producers, should be trying to benefit from or copy Modest Mouse’s success. If you’ve listened to Jawbox and Burning Airlines, you’ll know exactly where this EP is coming from, and what’s changed (and much has).

    I don’t understand the Modest Mouse comparison that much in the first place. The sounds are completely different, and “odd timbres and rhythms” are far from unique to Modest Mouse. Listen to something called “progressive rock” and you’ll know why.

    I love this EP, as do others I’ve introduced it to, but anything involving J. Robbins tends to staple itself to my playlist.

  3. The Open EP is one of the most rhythmically stimulating and melodically moving releases I have heard this year by far. I do not see the MM connection at all. Anyone who’s sick of music today will enjoy this EP.

  4. I don’t understand why everyone has to listen to music with preconcieved notions of what the music should sound like or who it should emulate. I personally like this CD and love the roots from which it was born. I respect your opinion, but I don’t understand why you have to compare it to MM to make it. Or how you could say that the band is trying to emmulate a sound that J. Robbins himself invented. Besides…the problem with music these days is that it all sounds the same so why would I want another MM? Just my opinion, take it or leave it.

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