If you’re familiar with the current superhip Troy (or Albany or Saratoga where he hails closer to/from) music scene, you’ve heard of Sinkcharmer. Or if not Sinkcharmer, one of Paul Coleman’s other projects. Haley Moley, a band he formed with his wife Jen Maher Coleman and other local musicians Andrea Kosek (aka DJ Goldeedust) Pat Thorne, and Mike Broomhead (the latter two making up DJ Partyhorn). Or maybe Architrave, an already legendary danceable electronic post-punk duo he also formed with his wife Jen. OR any of the dozens of local production and engineering jobs he’s done for other local artists…
Point is, if you’re reading this, you probably know who Paul Coleman is and have heard Sinkcharmer. So we don’t need to describe him to you. But we’re gonna anyway (how else are we gonna write enough to fill up the 100 or so words neededd to fill up this space)?
To us Sinkcharmer’s a cross between late 70s/early 80s post-punk/dance/new wave and east coast 90s lo-fi/alternative artists. In fact, Sinkcharmer began all the way back in the late 90s in Boston. But he seems to have found his home and greatest fanbase here in the Capital District.
Back in 2017 Coleman released ‘Sit Up Straight’, a collection of terrific little sequenced pop gems. This was followed up with ‘vs. Reactor House’, a series of singles and comps. However, to date no full record has been released to as much fanfare as ‘Radical Luck’, an album so sought after by the local press that writers were contacting Coleman begging for pre-releases and interviews before he announced the release date.
Well, as you and I both know your pals at Times Boredom are the most ingenious damned hackers in the business and we bug everyone’s laptop that makes music here in the Capital District. So we didn’t ask. We took! And then, lazy bastards that we are, we just sat around listening to the album and enjoying it so much we didn’t get around to reviewing now, after he’s released it to the general public. So much for the hype.
But fuck do we love what we hear. More and more everytime we play it through. Like previous mentioned releases Coleman balances out electronic drum machines and sequencers with lo-fi nerdy pop vocals and signature postpunk guitar tones (i’ve heard he plays a tenor guitar and switches it to a bass with a pedal — also that he built his own guitar from spare parts he found at the junkyard and several processors he built the same way).
Just like all the great Sinkcharmer albums, what I love about this one is how it seamlessly blends proto-goth rock with lo-fi Lou Barlowesque melodies, post-modern instrumentation and sensibilities. The album begins with reverb laden hollow ringing chords that would fit perfectly on an early Cure album. And then begins the best song about the pandemic I’ve heard as of yet; comparing it to an event with biblical proportions (because when it comes down to it, we all potentially will do so in twenty years). However, unlike the actual flood story, this one doesn’t seem to have an end. We go inside the ark, than go outside, the light’s to bright, back into the Ark! Just like all the times we keep thinking this fucking thing is over.
Season Six Script Planning is a BRILLIANT song about the randomly exciting and terrifying events that are taking place in America right now. America’s treating itself as a television show that was on its way out, so in season 6 we go off the rails, hoping it’ll keep everyone’s attention. But instead it may (or may not) be an entertaining romp, but it’s real fucking life. Whoever’s in control needs to stop fucking around, poking all the bears, making them dance for the cameras because there are serious consequences that no one’s taking seriously but, rather, are just treating like some dumb tv show.
The remainder of the tracks follow similar patterns pitting new wave beats behind sullen post-goth sonic guitar fields and monotonal vocal patterns with catchy hooks. Chaotic Dreams and Dwell seem to almost be a dyad of personal torturous emotions, and represent a far darker more introspective side of Sinkcharmer. Kept and Terrible Protector (the latter of which was originally included on the world changing 518 Covid Comp), are tracks that most remind me of Sinkcharmer’s Dinosaur/Sebadoh tendencies. That mid to late period 90s indie rock vibe with the dance beats is if nothing else a fascinating juxtaposition. And they’re juxtaposed (interposed?) by Stochastic Reality, a highly danceable tune with Nine Inch Nails like descriptions of an eerie controlling invisible power that feeds our pleasure centers to get us to submit.
And then of course there’s the exception of course of the cover of Madeline Darby’s Innovation, which is a terrific take on what’s recently become a Troy scene electro-noise classic. And, as expected, Sinkcharmer like any good folk song preparer makes the song his own; I doubt that people that don’t know the track or read the notes will even know it’s a Darby penned song (though if you’re reading this you should and you should head to Madeline Darby’s bandcamp page after this!)
Sinkcharmer is pulling esoteric threads from four decades of underground music to combine the perfect ear candy for the indie fan in all of us. Thanks for another great album; keep it up!