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The Channel
Tales From The Two Hill Heart/Sibylline Machine
C-Side Records

Unlike most double disc releases, in which each disc acts as a sort of "Side A" and "Side B" and one is a continuation of the other, The Channel's new double disc entitled Tales From The Two Hill Heart/Sibylline Machine is actually two distinct entities. It is similar to Bright Eyes' most recent albums, in which Conor Oberst simply released two separate CD's at the same time. However, The Channel decided to be even more economical by releasing them in a single package.

Tales From The Two Hill Heart moves at the pace of a country album, complete with themes of Tennessee and "girls who did [them] wrong." The album takes its time. It is not in any rush to make a point. Like the old cliché, it is more about the journey than the destination. The Channel have brought their Austin, Texas roots along with a bit of a Southern twang. It is more reminiscent of artists like Conor Oberst and Jenny Lewis, who flirt with folk music at times, but are indie pop at their core. However, Colby Pennington's vocals are more along the lines of Elliott Smith than Willie Nelson. The first song "Up On The Hill" opens with dreamy (but almost dissonant) harmonies, followed by the twangy "Wages Of Death." "Olden Days" and "The Deserter" sound like they came straight from the 60's, while "The Man I Don't Remember," the record's strongest track, offers the distant sound of a banjo. In "The Daring Eye," the cooing background vocals act as watchful ghosts during haunting verses. This leads into an unexpectedly hopeful chorus with the words, "I only hope that you have patience when you know that I have found you." The painfully catchy "Aching" ends with the repetetive lines, "Someday we'll be together/Yes we will/Yes we will." For some reason I don't get the idea that The Channel are trying to compose another "We Are The World." In fact, I don't get the idea that The Channel are trying too hard to do anything on this album, which is why it works so well. It is just a well-done piece of work by a band whose skill seems to come very naturally for them.

"Deep Silent Seas," the first track on the second disc Sibylline Machine offers the first sign of an electric guitar, while also diverting from the consistently patient pace of Tales. It mixes up the pace a bit by unexpectedly speeding up the rhythm and then slowing it down again. Some of the most notable tracks include the brilliant title track, as well as my favorite song, "Under The Carpet." I love the simplicity of the same few chords repeating over and over contrasting with the psychedelic programming at the end of the song. Most of the songs on Sibylline Machine are good, catchy, but simple songs, from the serene "The King Of Spain" to the Beatles-esque "Sneaks Or Skates?" However, I found that it kind of paled in comparison to Tales From The Two Hill Heart. It seemed that the songs merely lacked some of the depth displayed on the first disc. Sibylline was a bit too "granola" for me, and by "granola" I mean this: it tasted good and I knew it was good for me, but somehow I just grew tired of chewing on it. Tales on the other hand, was like a filet mignon… in the spirit of Texas and all.

-Allegra Willis

Track Listing:
1. Up On The Hill
2. Wages Of Death
3. Olden Days
4. The Deserter
5. The Daring Eye
6. The Man I Don't Remember
7. Aching
8. Halls Of The Gifted
9. Fired #3
10. New Mexican Arcade
11. The Creek
12. …2 Kinds Of Leaders
13. ….Whirly Bird

1. Deep Silent Seas
2. Besides/Ohio
3. Sibylline Machine
4. Rapture, My Captain
5. The King of Spain
6. The Network Of Eaves
7. Disco For Daisies
8. Sneaks Or Skates?
9. Under The Carpet
10. Second Born Daughters

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