The Channel's debut album, Tones Are Falling, was one of 2003's overlooked gems. The music, a mixture of psychedelia, country, and guitar-based indie pop, didn't seem rooted in any particular era or scene -- it could have originated with dB Records in the '80s or more recently with the Elephant 6 collective along the lines of the Minders. The Channel's second album, Personalized (a title that appears nowhere on the package), moves the group further toward the Minders' end of the spectrum, with full harmony vocal arrangements that make prominent use of one of the group's newest members, Heather Pennington. Intentionally or not, much of the ramshackle quality of the first album remains, creating an endearing style resembling a homespun version of Friends-era Beach Boys. Personalized is, in many ways, an extension of Tones Are Falling -- both albums lead off with weird instrumentals, and the title track of Personalized is a remake of a song from the previous album. The group's vocal and instrumental arrangements have become more sophisticated, while their songs remain substantial and memorable. The album concludes with a fleshed-out cover of Will Oldham's "Black" from Bonnie "Prince" Billy's I See a Darkness. Personalized is an accomplished album and its fans are encouraged to seek out the equally rewarding Tones Are Falling.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Adams