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Waiting for the Next End of the World

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Album Review

Whether he likes it or not, J. Robbins has a bit of what might be called a "following." And for good reason. Even though he has always worked in a group dynamic, each of his bands since Government Issue — Jawbox, Burning Airlines, and now Channels — have all had a similar stamp. Choppy rhythms infused with melodic choruses, harmonics and bent-string guitar flourishes, back and forth vocalizing, and a predilection for somehow roping in the tightest drummers on the planet (Darren Zentek may be the best yet) are all elements associated with whatever music project Robbins comes anywhere near. Channels' full-length debut, Waiting for the Next End of the World, is all of these things but with just a bit more. Like a well-crafted meld of 1997's Jawbox and the first Burning Airlines full-length, Waiting is a big step away from Robbins' failed attempt at mood with his last work, the muddy and uneventful Identikit. This time around, there is added depth with the addition of Janet Morgan, whose harmonies manage to soften the husky vocal style of Robbins, but staying strong and potent enough to fit in with the album's muscle. Her voice not only harmonizes with his, but with his guitar — no mean feat. Simply put, with Waiting for the Next End of the World, there is power where there should be power, atmosphere where there should be atmosphere, and the dynamics have been kept at the fore. Perhaps keeping the band as a stripped down three-piece, and recording most of the album live has worked to the albums' benefit. Tight, simple, and straightforward, Channels' smart, visceral lyrical attack is free to make its point as equally as the music is. There are those who might argue that this all equals a minus, that Robbins has a certain touch, and that all of his work is merely a variation on a theme, but the counter is that what he does, he does well. Channels is a balanced band, solid in each of its aspects, and playing to its strengths. Like Jawbox's For Your Own Special Sweetheart and Burning Airlines' Mission: Control!, Waiting for the Next End of the World is a high-water mark. It is also J. Robbins back on track. ~ Christopher M. True, Rovi


Formed: 2003 in Washington D.C.

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Following the end of Burning Airlines, it seemed that Washington, D.C., scene stalwart and former Jawbox vocalist/guitarist J. Robbins had decided to focus his energies into being an engineer and producer for other artists, but all the while Robbins was working on new songs of his own -- all that was needed were people to play with. The resulting band, Channels, would first see the light of day in 2003 and would release their debut EP, Open, on DeSoto Records. A three-piece made up of Robbins on...
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Waiting for the Next End of the World, Channels
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