Channels is the latest project of D.C. area musician/producer J.Robbins (formerly of Burning Airlines. Jawbox), and by the first five seconds of the CD, it’s great to hear his angered take on life still making its mark almost 20 years since its first appearance. Joined by wife Janet Morgan and former Kerosene 454 powerhouse of a drummer Darren Zentek, Channels is a mature reproach to the disillusionment and confusion that’s plagued the free-thinking w, x, and y generations for the past six years now, and it’s layered in Robbins’ trademarked angular complexities, intertwined bass lines and Zentek’s furious pounding. Though it’s quite clear that Channels is a J.Robbins associated product, there’s a quality to the song writing that distances itself from anything in the more recent Robbins discography. I’d say it was more aligned with the final Jawbox album than anything Burning Airlines created, only the anger is more subdued and analyzed, plus the addition of Morgan’s vocals add an almost new wave-ish quality to the song structures. Having spent a fair amount of time navigating through life with Robbins’ songs as a soundtrack, I’m automatically inclined to appreciate anything Channels would do. But Robbins and company don’t offer a quick fix; Channels is awash with new challenges, new motivations and new explorations on the current chapters of life. Get past the somber title and acquaint yourself with a brilliant record.
For further info on Channels, log onto www.dischord.com, or www.jrobbins.net for MP3 files of Channels and assorted other J.Robbins produced recording projects.