The Arthurs, an Austin band on the periphery of the Elephant 6 Collective, added Colby Pennington to become the Channel in 2001. Tones Are Falling is the group's debut, finished in 2002 and released nationally the following year on C-Side Records. Recorded in a home studio, the album sounds like a demo in spots but contains some of the group's best songs, most of which are holdovers from Pennington's previous project, Driftin' Luke & His Many Personalities. "Paul Bee and His Nutria," "Picnic Lady May," "Renee Bobotics," and "Green Grass" form the core of the album, isolated from the second half by a long instrumental segment of "The Tide" that borders on audio verité. These four songs are catchy and direct, with big hooks, a sense of humor, and ambitious orchestration that blends mild psychedelia and indie pop with shades of country-rock. Excepting "Personalized," which the group remade and improved for their second album, the remaining songs sound rougher and less focused. The title track is a whimsical instrumental, and "No Tears," told from the perspective of a dead man, is reminiscent of the folk ballads of yore. Elements of the group's later style are evident in the vocal harmonies and arrangements, but Tones Are Falling substitutes forthrightness and pure pop energy for the lush, languid, almost abstract quality of Personalized and Tales from the Two Hill Heart/Sibylline Machine.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Adams