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Channels - Waiting for the Next End of the World (Cover Artwork)

Channels

Channels: Waiting for the Next End of the WorldWaiting for the Next End of the World (2006)
Dischord Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: OsloboditeljOsloboditelj
(others by this writer | submit your own)

J Robbins' bands have often played second fiddle to the various projects surrounding Ian Mackaye and his Fugazi bandmates, with Jawbox rarely being mentioned without D.C.'s most venerated post-hardcore band being close at hand. Yet Robbins, who has carved a niche for himself as a rather renowned pro.
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J Robbins' bands have often played second fiddle to the various projects surrounding Ian Mackaye and his Fugazi bandmates, with Jawbox rarely being mentioned without D.C.'s most venerated post-hardcore band being close at hand. Yet Robbins, who has carved a niche for himself as a rather renowned producer, has been one of the strongest stalwarts of the Dischord roster, making his new project, Channels, an obvious necessity to Dischord purists, and a strong group in their own right. Now that Fugazi's members have drifted in somewhat different directions, Channels remain as the most direct evolution of the sound of `90s Dischord as purveyed by both Jawbox and Fugazi.

Robbins has said the tastes that brought Channels together were XTC and the Jesus Lizard, and Channels' sound can indeed be labeled as an application of these two acts onto the sound of Jawbox and Burning Airlines. What this means is that Waiting for the Next End of the World is simultaneously grindingly forward-pushing and full of upbeat energy. Generally, the rhythms are pounding and intense, while the melodies are quite catchy and intricate. This leads to an overall evocation of both angry resolution and giddy energy, and the album works best when that tone is maintained, with the best examples being the infectious opener "To the New Mandarins" and the overall strongest song on the album, "Chivaree."

While "Helen Mirren" provides some nice relief to the otherwise frenetic first part of the album, it and its slow compatriot, the closing "Mercury," definitely feel like the weakest tracks -- the latter seems to be an anticlimax to the energy infused by the rest of the album, with "Little Empires" being a much more satisfying finish. Overall, though, the album is coherent and energetic without resorting to being obviously "fun," allowing for some rather intense moments and even more poignant lyrics.

Robbins has always written some great lines, and his songwriting is if anything at its strongest here. The album is littered with gems like "I grew up on science fiction / Doesn't mean I want to live in it," but the real lyrical standout is "New Logo," framing the end of the world as commercial entertainment. Never has the end of the world sounded so disturbingly cheerful, thanks to lines like "Crows are crowding every open wire / the starting guns all turn and open fire" and "test audience prefers the fire to flood in every demographic, ten to one."

Robbins' vocal technique has also improved, with his range sounding great. His fellow vocalist is a bit less impressive, though: Robbins' wife Janet, while possessed of a nice-sounding voice and a capable backup singer, disappoints when she takes the lead for "Hug the Floor," sounding a bit flat but more pressingly slipping into the mix so that her vocals seem to lose the focus of the song. This may be more of an aspect of Robbins' production being so closely linked with his voice, but regardless makes the otherwise good song fall short. Fortunately, the two following songs are the two strongest on the album, with the urgent and accusatory "Mayday" being a great example of the band at its best. And when they're good, they're really good.

Of the twelve songs present, nine are incredible, and the three weaker tracks are still strong enough to make this a very good album, and with all due respect to both Ian Mackaye and Joe Lally, that makes Channels' Waiting for the Next End of the World Dischord's best album of 2006.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Refused - The Shape of Punk to ComeBad Religion - SufferJawbox - For Your Own Special SweetheartBad Religion - No ControlThe Lawrence Arms - Apathy and ExhaustionPropagandhi - Today's Empires, Tomorrow's AshesFugazi - 13 SongsFugazi - Repeater + 3 SongsALL - PummelThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever Told

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
yaa (February 14, 2009)

how a record like this slips under the radar is beyond me. Robbins ages like wine

spoon_of_grimbo (January 26, 2009)

you're not the only one, Scruffy. I LOVE identikit. so amazingly varied, but i don't think i've ever heard an album that's so varied, yet somehow focused and with such tight interlocking playing between the musicians.

that said, i'm halfway through my first listen to this Channels album, and it's not far behind.

Scruffy (January 23, 2007)

I feel the need to once again be the lone voice claiming that Identikit is Robbin's best work as a musician.

osloboditelj (January 23, 2007)

It is indeed, but the review was long enough as is.

Anonymous (January 22, 2007)

for shame on this review for not even mentioning darren zentek. his drumwork on this album is absolutely amazing.

ironlungs (January 22, 2007)

damned hard to find. i ended up having to download it off of iTunes, which sucks because the artwork looks pretty cool. anyway, i personally don't think that J ever really dropped the ball in any of his previous efforts. sure, identikit was no mission control, but its still up there in my book as being light years ahead of most of the shit that came out then and now.

Osloboditelj (January 21, 2007)

In my opinion, Jawbox > Channels > Burning Airlines > Government Issue, but if Channels keeps up with the pace they set here, they could become the best band J's ever been in. (note that BA might be above Channels if Identikit weren't so damned mediocre)

Maybe I didn't use strong enough language in my review: "New Logo" is definitely Robbins' best lyrical moment yet, and that's saying a hell of a lot considering songs like "Flood of Foreign Capital" and "Savory".

My issue with "Hug the Floor" is that her vocals aren't clearly delineated the way the other instruments are. Between her sinking into the mix and the drone-like lack of inflection, it's too easy to lose track of. basically, when the other instruments do so much, flat vocals need to be up front to be heard well... or they should be more tonally interesting. It's not a bad song, it just doesn't sound right to me.

All in all, this is easily one of the best albums of 2006 indeed.

Thanks for the feedback.

dialoguefromamovie (January 21, 2007)

glad to see a review of this up here. this album is amazing. this was by far my favorite album of 2006. the production on it is great. i'm going to have to disagree with the reviewer about "hug the floor"... i really liked the way janet's vocals sound on it. they aren't in front of or behind the music, they just kind of mesh with it. it adds a nice texture to it. and, i'm going to go out on a bit of a limb here...but "new logo" is probably the best song, lyrically, that j. robbins has ever written. in my opinion at least.

-dave.

no-lolz (January 20, 2007)

cuj osloboditelj....

theyounginfluential (January 20, 2007)

definitely one of my favorite releases this year. i liked the ep a little better, though.

Anonymous (January 19, 2007)

i'm listening to the songs on their myspace and am really digging them, particlarly the guitar work. i have jawbox's ...special sweetheart and dig it, but never enough to get another one. i might pick this up though.

Icapped2pac (January 19, 2007)

Thanks to whomever posted the myspace link. That official site is fucking useless, and I wanna hear what they sound like.

Anonymous (January 19, 2007)

Jawbox is rad. So is Burning Airlines. When he was in Government Issue they were ass. I love J. Robbins.

Anonymous (January 19, 2007)
Anonymous (January 19, 2007)

I really think Channels is the best thing he's been involved in. Including Government Issue.

ihatejones (January 19, 2007)

I was listening to their first album last night. It's really really grown on me.

Do people really prefer Jawbox over Burning Airlines and Channels?

recordtheory (January 19, 2007)

Speaking of "checking this out," does anyone know where I can hear some mp3s?

This is my biggest pet peeve with Dischord. No free songs!! But I guess they make up for it by putting out some of the best independent music of our time.

recordtheory (January 19, 2007)

I will have to check this out.

BrendanKelly (January 19, 2007)

agreed 100%.
one of the most overlooked albums of last year.

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