Staff Picks: A song, an album, and a book about music

Channels, “Backpfeifengesicht”/“Airstrip One” single

Channels debuted during some of the bleakest days of the Bush administration, not long after frontman J. Robbins closed the door on his old band, Burning Airlines. When the Maryland trio—featuring bassist Janet Morgan (Robbins’ wife) and drummer Darren Zentek of Kerosene 454—released the Open EP in 2004, it reflected the darkness of the times in songs like “Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend” and “Chivaree,” in which Robbins sang “A curse 2003 / They put bombs in my dreams.” The 2006 full-length Waiting For The Next End Of The World was even more pointed, its blazing opener “To The New Mandarins” setting the tone from the first second: “It’s tricky to relax / While bracing for impact / Call it your patriot act / The panic room’s in back / With victory on tap / Show ’em your patriot act.” Channels more or less went …

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