The Neolithic Age, Medieval Age, Industrial Age…any history book will give the lowdown on how these various time periods dramatically impacted world history since The Big Bang. So I’ll make my contribution and formally introduce these modern times as The Age of the Supergroup, a miraculous era in which saints of hard-rock royalty rise up from the mires of near Has-been-dom to combat the banality of the lifeless Lego Bands: faceless, interchangeable members equaling the same plastic result.
Alright, so I’m being a little melodramatic here, but this is a Gen X fanboy rocker’s wet dream come true. Taking the alumni of one of the most influential alt-rock bands ever, Jane’s Addiction (minus original Jane’s bassist Eric Avery, now touring with Garbage), and giving them free reign on their own original material without influence from record labels or current trends…man, I’m gonna need a towel soon. With a lineup of original JA band-mates Dave Navarro (guitar) and Stephen Perkins (drums), along with Chris Chaney on bass (who played on the last Jane’s album Strays) and relative “newcomer” Steve Isaacs (vocals), the newly christened The Panic Channel debuts with (ONe) from Capitol Records, and what a happy day it is.
TPC actually came about in 2004 as Navarro and Chaney’s brainchild after recording Strays. Once they recruited Perkins (who else?) and ex-Skycycle front-man Isaacs, skeptics could have easily accused them of trying to cash-in on the Supergroup trend. After the mega successes of Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, Supernova (from the current CBS TV show Rockstar: Supernova, another Navarro idea) and the forthcoming Army of Anyone (featuring Filter leader Rich Patrick and the remaining Stone Temple Pilots), who could blame ‘em? But the good thing about TPC and the aforementioned bands is the purity; they’re not struggling to get discovered or get on the fast track to fame (been there, still doing that). Money’s not the prime motivator—an easy second, of course—so it all boils down to just cranking amps and playing for the love of hard music. Gonna need that towel, now…
Moving on to the album, (ONe) shares nothing in common with Jane’s Addiction's albums; nothing experimental or psychedelic, just bare knuckled rock straight from the get-go of the opening track “Teahouse of the Spirits” onto the last. Dave’s signature guitar wails are ever present, and Isaac’s vocals sound a lot like late 80’s hair-metal to me, but they work in the confines of TPC’s sound. “Why Cry”, the first single already on the play lists of several rock stations, has the sing-along type of chorus that is bound to get stuck in your head and have you humming through the day.
(ONe) itself has a deeper spiritual meaning. The band claims that not only is this their first album, but that the included parentheses “hold it all together” gives homage to the “one spiritual entity of the universe”. Okay, but musically there’s nothing spiritual to be offered, just the basic in-your-face rock and usual rock subject matter (relationships, girls, alienation). But thank God they’re not going for any teenage angst, which would sound contrived since these guys haven’t been teens for many years now. The name Panic Channel also refers to the state of emotional panic one encounters when ingesting too much media. But since this album is a form of media, are they saying we should only listen to it a little at a time or take in as much media as we can to understand where they’re coming from? Honestly, I don’t know and I really don’t care.
TPC offers listeners nothing new with this album; it’s nothing you haven’t heard before but it’s something you haven’t heard in awhile, and it’s better than most. Fans of Jane’s Addiction looking for the second coming will be disappointed—that was Perry Farrell’s baby, this one is clearly Dave’s and he is, as the saying goes, gonna rock it all night. If you’re in the mood for mind-altering art rock, go pick up something from JA’s back catalogue. If you’re looking for some nice mood music to get hammered to and then throw hotel furniture from a sixth story balcony, then The Panic Channel has provided you with the perfect soundtrack. Thanks fellas, for money well spent.