Sky Furrows has the unbearable burden of being in the Times Boredom top ten more than any other band in the Capital District. But honestly, how could they not be? Times Boredom is indisputably the arbiter of everything that’s cool (and cool enough to not take itself too seriously) in the Capital Region and has been since 2015.
And is there any cooler band you can think of than this motley gang of 4 vets of the up (and sometimes down)state New York scenes? Every single member of Sky Furrows has carved a name for themself individually in a way that, if there were like a twenty year golden watch given out by the lord of the underground cool, they’d all have one. And NOW they’d all have 3 rings they could kiss (like those asshole Patriot fans — sorry our Editor’s a HUGE Yankees fan and will NOT hear of any story that doesn’t disparage the Bruins at any opportunity we can possibly get…)
And the truth is if ever there was a time for me to say my famously overused ‘Ah hell I done interduced them enough’ Big Lebowski quote it’d be now since Sky Furrows has won just about every award we put out, been reviewed and mocked and praised so many times by Times Boredom there’s nothing left to do but repeat myself… So this time I’m not gonna start going a hundred feet deep with Rambutan and Parashi and links to collaborations with Mike Watt and whatever else…
Instead, I’ll just tell you what they said to me when I asked them some interview questions like ‘how great is it to be in Times Boredom’s top ten YET AGAIN and how surprised are you…’
Congratulations on being in Times Boredom’s Top 10 local bands! What was your favorite show that you played in 2022? Who was YOUR favorite local band in 2022?
Karen Schoemer (for Sky Furrows): One of our favorite local bands is the Scurves! Love them Scurves!
TB: Do you have any plans for 2023?
KS: We did not release new material in 2022, but we did record a new album in Katonah NY and Easthampton MA and we’re hoping to get it out by the end of the year!
And that’s it. We done tell you all there is to tell. Seriously I really am tired of introducting them. I do this to promote local bands and if all I’m really doing is giving them awards every year and saying how great they are what does that really accomplish? I gotta rethink my choices bro. Seriously.
And we all know it’s out there just waiting to be found and distributed more widely.
Here’s a great example: Haunted Cat made an entire half hour Christmas special a couple years ago; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYBvbfPwztE (they also made a Halloween special, but it is Christmas and all depending on when you read this — that’s another thing. We all know that people visit Nippertown on a daily basis but Times Boredom’s only visited when a) your band or someone you know is mentioned b) when you find out about it which is typically not the same day so 5f) there’s a .00001% chance anyone will read this on Christmas). The production values may not be as flawless as the Sirsy video, and there may not be any ‘sexy dames’ baby singing ‘Santa Baby’, but come on. This thing is hilarious. There’s genuine humor here, and not just the kind you can milk by mocking an old style mr. rogers type christmas special. And in addition to the funny corny holiday cheer, there’s a number of terrific rock performances by… well I’m not going to ruin it for you because I really think you should watch it yourself (that’s kind of the point here). But there’s no link to this special, on Nippertown, Keep Albany Boring, Times Union, or any other local music and arts sites.
It probably sounds like I’m singling out Nippertown, however, I really appreciate Nippertown and think it’s the best site there is for local Capital District music and arts news, promotions, and just information in general. And in terms of music, they do coverage of all kinds of local music including underground stuff that other local publications in other cities would stay away from in order to get more sponsors or advertisers etc., to make more money. But Nippertown really is more concerned about helping people to enjoy the arts scene around town. So in addition to the Sirsy video they posted today they posted one by Warden and Co. and one by Taini Asili and the Messiahs. Nippertown is great; but because they are what they are they want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Unfortunately that often means groups like Sirsy, Super 400 and the Figgs that have been around for 30 years and have real PR machines get way more coverage than a group that’s just starting out like say, the Sugar Hold. The Sugar Hold is making enormous waves in the underground community, but in terms of local music time they’ve only been around an instant and as such they’re still building not only their fanbase, but their relationships with local media, their productions, multi-media presentations, etc.
So what’s the real problem? I suppose this is as close to an ‘editorial’ as we come here at Times Boredom (perhaps I should add that as a category/tag since my lazy ass has written 2 or 3 of these now) so I just want to say that there’s so much great underground music right now in the Capital District I feel like we could really be a mecca for a strong ‘alternative’ (term used correctly even if doesn’t apply musically) collective of recordings, performances, and overall knowledge by a large audience in the area that would really appreciate the music but just doesn’t know about it.
I mean if you were new to town and came from a larger city, and you looked for local music and saw Sirsy, you’d be like ‘I guess punk rock really IS dead, especially in this jerkwater burg. I’m just gonna listen to my old Minor Threat record again. There’s plenty of classics to keep me happy enough’. And you’d ignore every aspect of the local scene because you’d figure there really wasn’t anything of substance to see.
Another unchangeable issue is that as much great music as there is around (and there pretty much ALWAYS is, even in cities as small as ours in the US), it’s all about giving it a platform, getting groups together, dissemination and distribution. In short, a ‘scene’ needs to be created. And of course the ‘scene’ brings to mind all the stupid terrible things it entails like small town big egos, in groups and out groups, enmity amongst microniches, etc etc. (if you’ve ever been in one you know exactly what I mean). But what’s much worse is not having a scene at all. You’ve got a thousand people in their basements and apartments writing and recording music, playing in small groups with just their close personal friends, house shows where the band outnumbers the audience and the cops get called after a couple songs. Self indulgence, legends in their own minds, the complete lack of appreciation that makes would be greats quit before they get started, isolation and atomism and lack of competition. All of which are overcome by a scene that certainly does bring out bad aspects, but also often brings out the best of the music. Interrelationships, genre crossovers, the competition that makes everyone better (my favorite example is the Minutemen being inspired to write and record Double Nickels on the Dime in response to Husker Du’s double album Zen Arcade. Would either of these have happened without a national ‘scene’ based around SST, a network of punk rock clubs and people, and the PR and promotions that occurred — what little there were — were SO important that today someone like me (and hopefully you) know what they are and can appreciate them).
And we have the building blocks for a great scene that could even potentially breakout and have people saying ‘there are fantastic things going on right now in underground rock and punk in Troy and the surrounding areas’. And you know me, I believe the Superdark Collective is responsible for a great deal if not most of this network, collaboration, word of mouth, etc. And now growing on the success of much of what the Superdark Collective generated we have No Fun, a great club in Troy that plays host to so much of the terrific underground music we have around town. It gives the loners in their basements (not making fun; I AM one) something to strive for. A reason to record and distribute. A reason to ask their friends who plays bass guitar and if anyone knows a drummer. These are the organizing factors that create little revolutions, that make music scenes like Seattle, Mineapolis, and Chapel Hill break out so that maybe mainstream listeners don’t know, but folks that are into underground music have their lives vastly improved. Seriously.
If you read this you’ll probably think it’s a useless rambling editorial that won’t solve anything. And you’re right. Because like you I work a full time job and don’t have the time to edit this, make sure it makes sense, or strengthen the points I really want to make about how this publication, Times Boredom, really needs to step up and cover the specific musical niches that are burgeoning around here — the noise scene, the electronic scene, post hardcore, punk, and metal. I’m not criticizing wide reaching sites like Nippertown because I think they’re doing anything wrong, but because I think they’re doing what’s right for them and not just covering what’s already thriving and has its own means of DIY promotion and distribution but EVERYTHING/as much as they can. The reason I began (and talked WAY too much about) with Sirsy is that often means that whatever’s canned and has worked its mainstream appeal factors out, the heavily processed pre-mixed defrosted previously fully cooked spam that doesn’t need the coverage or promotion and is just overpeddling a mediocre product at best is what gets the attention and dissemination it doesn’t need or deserve. We need to fight against the Sirsy’s of the rock world and for the underground punk Haunted Cats, Sugar Holds, Superdark Collectives, 100 Psychic Dreams, No Fun, Architraves and dblgoers and so many more I couldn’t name them all — one person couldn’t even know them all!
So in a way this is a plea; join me in my quest to make the Capital District underground music scene as big and great as it can be. Especially now when we have so many of the building blocks in place. If you want to volunteer to write for Times Boredom, be it an opinion piece about the local band you love, a review of a great local album you just heard, or a sarcastic article making fun of you own band send us an e-mail today, we’re not picky! And as silly as we are and sometimes unintentionally/INTENTIONALLY mean, if we hurt anyone’s feelings we take it down. We just want to have fun and bring all the amateurs together to create something much better than it otherwise would be, so you don’t need any special training or experience to be one of us. Just a desire to join with us to promote and let everyone know about all the great music that’s going on out there.
Because otherwise it’s just me. And I’m already way too old for this shit, and only gettin fatter and lazier.
As soon as opening track ‘Billy Morris’ takes off you know exactly what you’re in for; quirky indie pop that makes you nostalgic for those late 90s/early 2000s obscure power pop and lo-fi label albums you were obsessed with but no one else seemed to be… And as expectedly unexpected in the lo-fi pop genre, Sing More Songs About Failed Utopias goes on a non-linear journey from that k records naive international pop sound straight through to the more recent experimental college pop like Alex G. Brilliant yet entirely unassuming lo-fi pop gems sparkle so brightly you almost cry when the harmonies are off key or there’s so many over the top saccharine sweet instruments added you know this will never be on the radio or most likely, anywhere other than a sad sad site like Times Boredom.
The ‘House of Tomorrow’ band is made up of some of the usual suspects of local musicians and scenesters; Kim Tateo (from Machine Revival), Brady Potts, Connor Amrbruster (an accomplished up and coming solo performer in their own right), Dan Prockup, and our good Superdark buddy (and good sport) Christopher Brown. It’s not clear who plays what, but knowing something about these kids most of them are pretty good at just about anything they pick up. And if there’s something else familiar about these kids that you just can’t put your finger on, you may have seen them (esp lead Nathan Meltz) in previous groups ‘The Machine that Wouldn’t Die’ and ‘Machine Revival’, or other similarly named quirky pop projects that have been playing around the Capital District for a number of years now.
The House of Tomorrow (in clever playing card form)
But let’s get less clever and do a more descriptive dive into the weeds if we must… must we? We must
Track 2 ‘Zion’ is to put it bluntly a brilliantly crafted pop gem. Like better than Sufjan Stevens. We hope it’s been submitted to college radio stations (if not take note here guys; this could be bigger than Alex G. Seriously). Though also to be blunt members of the Church of Latter Day Saints may very well not appreciate its rather flippantly wry portrayal of its… free loving founder….
And the standout track by far is #3, Themyscira. That off kilter (possibly off key; I can’t tell because I don’t have perfect pitch but I do have perfect OCD for an unbearably catchy hook) harmony on ‘reTURN to us’ could quite literally make Mr. Meltz a number one artist based on that note alone. And it stays with you after the album is over, and it will make you want to listen to the whole ep again. And then it will haunt you until you listen to it so much that you don’t know why it calls you in the middle of the night but you MUST listen to that cute little line about how Diana should ‘reTURN to us and leave the world of dicks behind’… you get the point. It’s fuckin catchy.
And if that weren’t enough, there’s the the surprise ‘Planet of the Apes-Man’ where I hope (I hope I hope) they’re exhibiting the influence of listening to way too much of the lates sixties/early seventies Kinks concept albums… it really does have that (forgive me if I’m repeating myself) naive underground pop music base that comes from groups like the Kinks that completely moved on from what made them famous yet delighted a loyal and changing fan base, in a way that I’d really like to think of Nathan Meltz and um, House of.. hm sounds like either they are a cult like the Polyphonic Spree or they’re making fun of a cult group like them — again let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s mockery. But all in good fun!
But… it’s not all clever indie transcendence… Not all of the melodies are as fantastically catchy as Themyscira. And perhaps it should be pointed out that if you like your lo-fi indie a little more punky or hard edged this isn’t a record for you, the only edges are the interesting twists taken with pop hooks and ‘fa fa fa fa’s’. But it’s definitely worth a listen, and it portends potentially great things in the future provided mssrs Meltz and co. keep it up and fight the good indie pop fight… we’re certainly looking forward to hearing more and love what has developed from the early days of the Machine that Wouldn’t Die to this terrific new incarnation of Nathan Meltz and the House of Tomorrow!
Somewhere in the oughts indie rock/pop lost its way. It became a shadow of whatever was on the radio in terms of production, and more and more like 70s soft rock in overall sound and mood.
The tragedy is not only the early but the late 90s offered so many avenues indie could have taken. Lo-fi to slowcore, math rock to the quirky off kilter rhythms and melodies introduced by the likes of Rob Crowe in San Diego. And we’re just talking about the softer end of rock and the more melodic edges of pop here.
But the publications of the day heralded the coming of the old age. The new Eagles and folky singer songwriters… the shit.
Fortunately for those of us that follow underground music, there’s plenty of great stuff that went the other way, the good way. At their core that’s exactly what Milwaukee’s Brief Candles (https://briefcandlesus.bandcamp.com/) represents. Lo-fi aesthetics, jarring rhythms, catchy crooning and just the right amount of guitar effects. Somewhere between groups like Verses and Heavy Vegetable that we all kinda forgot about; and of course the influence of that never gets tired of recycling shoegaze from Manchester.
There’s some Brooklyn hipster sounds in there, but out of a genuine love for the music that Brooklyn seems to be getting so wrong these days. It’s all grounded in more of a we love guitar music and everywhere it can go; whether it’s simply a really high strung bass line that makes an entire song or Television like interplay of guitars. And, of course, if they’re named after the Zombies song I think they are, they’ve definitely got their references in order.
See Brief Candles tonight at No Fun with Brooklyn’s (yech! jk — or are we?!) Dead Leaf Echo, and Brent Gorton’s Better Pills (https://betterpills.bandcamp.com/album/blood-chant) — if you don’t know who Brent Gorton is, get your ass down to No Fun and find out because he’s a brilliant indie pop legend here in the Capital District and arguably THE best songwriter.
At the top of the bandcamp page for Karen & Peter’s ‘Aggro Dolce’ album is a video. It’s a 32 second clip of the 5th track ‘Weekend in the Berkshires.’ And it’s a perfectly apt sample of the entire record. If you like it, you’re gonna love the album. If it doesn’t do it for you, none of the songs, the sounds, or the spoken word poetry vocalist Karen Schoemer is famous for are going to reach you.
The clip is so bleak and creepy, so seemingly random and filled with mundane stream of thought observations… a series of random fuzzy high art images flash slowly, almost painfully, and then a face appears within the haze. It’s Karen Schoemer, New York punk poetess of the 21st century, monotonally berating you in a calm and measured but almost unbearably intense, direct manner. She’s staring right at you. Speaking right to you. Seeing right through you.
If you’ve heard any of Schoemer’s other projects (our local favorites Sky Furrows perhaps or her collaborations with Watt, Wreckless Eric, Amy Rigby, etc.), you’re going to recognize her inimitable vocal stylings and post-beat post-punk poetry. If not, the calm and placid monotonal stream of consciousness utterings covering over an ocean of endtime anxiety that run throughout the entire course are evocative of other NYC punk princess poetesses’ we’ve compared her to before like Patti Smith and Kim Gordon.
But this album is very different from everything else I’ve heard Schoemer involved in because of the post-rock, classical music/sound collages under the vocals. The free synths and white noise so perfectly encase and are used as a vehicle for her idiosyncratic vocals, both of which complement each other to such a great degree that they enhance one another in a way hereto unheard of. Which, if you’re used to Schoemer’s other projects, is a shock to the system. Even she admittedly states she’s in unusualy territory here, as on ‘En Hiver “it’s unnerving. The way these songs change. No rhythm tracks in the snow. No marks. No measures. The hillside strangely empty of drums and guitars.”
And yet the minimalist ambience created by Peter (Taylor)’s anxious, existentialist soundscapes speaks of a spirit so kindred to Karen’s vocals that’s even further increased by seeing his artworks juxtaposed with her written poetry in the liner notes (who knew that recorders in this century were still using every piece of the artwork and space available to them to express themselves?). And yet, according to the liner notes, they’ve never met! Peter is living in a region of England scarred by coal mining and asbestos contamination. Karen, as far as we know, is in the gigantic brownfield that is the American post-corporate Capitalist scape (“woods without squirrels or insects”) of the ‘Empire State’. In which case it makes a great deal of sense that 2 artists that have never actually met are completely ‘in tune’ with each other, like the ‘special relationship’ between the trappings of the old Empire and the New, which is now also slowly but surely crumbling and decaying. Perhaps if they were to meet it might actually spoil the bond that clearly exists between them on the record — in any case here’s hoping they continue to collaborate from their eerily similar home spaces (anyone that’s worked from home with colleagues knows what I mean and the shared feelings you experience regardless of distance, time, or space), joined by the toxic leavings of the hands of unimaginably powerful, irresponsible men that have destroyed our worlds.
In case I haven’t made this clear, this is NOT happy or light music in any way. It is DARK and it is HEAVY. And it is repetitive and pointless and anxious yet calming and 20 months pregnant with the suspense of 7 civil wars that could start at any moment, ‘just a shot away’. That’s the mood it paints, and that’s the mood just about everyone’s in right now whether they admit it or not. The radio plays ‘pop tones’ while a hellish backlash Presidency that nearly reignited the same stupid Civil War we’ve been passively aggressively fighting for over 150 years was interrupted by a global pandemic thrown into the powder keg that locked us in our miserable homes where we hate and plot against our neighbors because THAT’S WHAT STRONG PEOPLE DO in America according to the television shows we binge watched while at all costs we told ourselves REMAIN CALM REMAIN CALM REMAIN CALM.
It sounds calm; this is what calm sounds like. Peter Taylor’s synths, found sounds, and the very occasional/rare crack or pop that heralds some kind of a beat — it’s a circle of hell. It sounds like a slow boil off the entire surface of the ocean while Karen whispers in our ear calmly, “100 men flayed raw…” and then something about the Velvet Underground(?). “This road wasn’t here. This valley wasn’t here. The stream became a reservoir. The flood came down the hill past the Catholic Church. This was a stream. It shouldn’t be a lake!”
I completely understand it and yet I don’t. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. I know we have to stay calm and tend to our mundane little lives in the midst of indefatigable and unstoppable global change and misery.
This is not only the soundtrack of our lives but inside our MINDS right now. Somewhere between a late Scott Walker track and an ambient Eno airport scene about to break into a Wolf Eyes nightmare at any minute. And Karen keeps whispering in our ear… over our “Weekend in the Berkshires”; “don’t drink the water… species crash disturbs the unintended garden… no sense of space under there… just cement, on dirt, the weather warm and strange. Sweating no longer cools the body — are you coming over after band practice? Are you ignoring my texts?
God, it’s only Tuesday.”
This is a perfect descriptive piece of art, the ‘soundtrack of our minds’ for anyone in the old Empire living through 2022. Our stupid lives, childhood traumas, pointless adult lusts pulsing through the bleak soundscape of the hypnotising hellish (or calming, entertaining bread and circuses depending on how you look at it) soundscape that keeps us stable and sane enough to say ‘everything is alright… enough’. But it sure as hell is not. And this photorealistic capture of this moment in time of the collective unconscious is what art SHOULD BE.
Damn those blatantly superficial radio songs that are clearly designed to put us in a buying mood and out of our existential, nihilistic anxiety about the present and fuck me do I NOT want to even THINK about the future. That’s what the people are listening to because that’s what’s being aggressivley marketed to them without mercy. But Aggro Dolce by Karen and Peter is what’s really going on… in our world, in our minds, defining new sounds and a new form of music for the post-post modern age. It’s found sound collage and ancient beatnik poetry and sadcore that’s accepting of and refuses to be terrified by the current age but accepts it as it is. It’s as bleak and hopeless as it gets.
And it’s the most transcendent piece of art I’ve heard in decades, pointing THE WAY FORWARD for genuinely artistic, expressionistic music in the new century and beyond
Super fun surf indie rock band The Sugar Hold (was forced to) made a deal with the Troy Chamber of Commerce following last night’s unbelievably exciting and entertaining (without so much as a hint of irony) set at Brown’s Brewing Company for the Bacchanalia fest.
“Basically we were told that we were making the, um, surrounding not quite as fun and less hardy partying local Troy arts, music and entertainment scene a bit um, paler by comparison?” explained lead singer/guitar player Mikey Baish. “We certainly didn’t start with the intention of being the most fun, entertaining, unstoppable good time had by everyone at all of our shows but we sort of can’t help it… we just make fun music that we love, we love what we’re doing and everyone can tell and they in turn love it so much they have such a good time and… it’s not our fault. We’d try to tone it down but honeslty, who would want to have LESS of a super rockin time?”
“We just can’t help it that we’re having so much damned fun up there these days unlike other groups and scenes from the past that we don’t really fit in with anymore.” chimes in drummer with variable yet always entertaining head and facial hair shining local personality John Olander (srsly dooders in like 20 bands, has 12 jobs and can be found anywhere a party with music is going on yet is ALWAYS partying and smiling). “I mean I used to play in a band called Che Guevara T-Shirt that, let’s face it, was just plain wrist-slitting metal. Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy it or any of the other groups around that still do that kind of stuff, but we are kind of heralding in a new era with groups like the Hold on Honeys, and earlier but still partying Haley Moley, Architrave, Haunted Cat — just too many to name (shouts Olander as he shoves a grinder into his mouth no doubt the first chance he’s had to eat in days) that are just plain unironically entertaining and joyous!”
“It kind of started when Haley Moley, Architrave and other bands led and or inspired by Paul and Jen Coleman’s indomitably positive, optimistic spirits changed the game by instead of making the kind of depressingly heavy industrial music of say Che Guevara T-Shirt or k. Sonin that made people leave, they played fun danceable but still in depth underground pop music that inspired all of us to stop being so ‘cool’ and pretending we were having such a crummy time and admit that we were having lots of fun and wanted the audience to have lots of fun too!”
“I think we just started experimenting with the idea that local independent music can just be a really great time” says bass player Matt Malone who was also in superdepressing suicide inspiring group Che Guevara T-Shirt at one point; “and then I guess we went too far. Because there are so many so much great but dark in depth groups that are around, the Troy Business Council has informed us there have been several formal complaints about how hard it is to get crowds in now that people can, instead, go to see the Sugar Hold and others that shimmer and shine and are unashamedly loved to party and have a good time! We didn’t realize it was such a novel concept, but it turns out that since the late seventies groups that earnestly and unashamedly have a great time haven’t really been featured in local scenes. And of course back in the early 90s with the advent of grunge it was literally made illegal to rock and party as hard and have as much of a good time as we’re doing now.”
Lead guitarist Dan Clark unfortunately did not comment because I’ve never met him IRL and I wouldn’t even deign to do any kind of impression whatsoever, however, everytime I’ve seen him play he does look like he’s having a great time and rocking out just like the rest of the band.
There’s still great fear however that even moving the Sugar Hold over exclusively to the party zone won’t stop what they’ve started. It turns out the germ of the idea that making great fun music with a bunch of your friends to entertain your other friends has taken deep roots in Troy and beyond.
The Sugar Hold was just one of the thousands of groups of terrific local musicians that played this weekend’s Troy Bacchanalia and changed the face and expectations of what an upstate end of summer festival could really do to reinvigorate, enliven, and even reinvent the core of what an upstate city is all about and the great things that come out of it!
This will be part 1 in our 67 part series on the Bacchanalia fest in Troy the Year of Our Lord 2022 and its lasting effects on the ecology, wildlife, and business climate of the city that Uncle Sam built dancing on his two left feet and the Capital District beyond…
Every good record should hold the elusive concept of the Yin and Yang; the soft and hard; the quiet and loud (or in this case, the loud and the LOUDER).
Despite Terralite and Iudica’s (the band that singer/guitarist Brian Michael and drummer Nate Fidd were previously in) aversion to acoustic guitars, they do venture into more pop balladeering on their debut record as Terralite.
But then again perhaps it’s unfair to judge their work based on any previous effort under their previous Iudica label…
But what is really different about Terrallite compared to Iudica? There was a different bass player, and now there’s another new one.
More significantly in terms of the overall sound, band dynamic, and potential dissociative identity disorder is new member Thom Grover, who is taking on increasing songs as the lead singer and songwriter. This as opposed to Brian Michael who clearly appears to be suited to be band leader, steering the ship unapologetically.
While Grover’s voice is getting stronger, and his songs (if they are his creative babies completely) are showing more dynamics than Iudica songs, Brian Michael’s writing is still more confident and demands more control.
While the majority of the songs on the record are good, and, more than ever before — groovy, the thing that stood out to me on the second and third listen through is that there is a slight split of personality happening throughout the record. This may be a Paul & John type thing where previously there was collaboration now the singer is the songwriter and never the twain shall meet; it’s like a mutiny aboard a ship where the crew are loyal but as with every enterprise new blood must flow. And a changing of the guards sometimes presses subtly but relentlessly, like a gigantic elephant in the room..
Yes, after my third listen, I wanted to say: this is a schizophrenic album.
I said it, but perhaps it isn’t entirely fair.
There is some cohesiveness that runs throughout and hints of the embryonic glue that delicately justifies it as a complete album.
You could split the album in two and call it a double EP – but now we’re splitting hairs.
Despite this tug and pull, the band has pulled something off that is a sign of more great things to come; they are still together and getting better.
I suggest catching them live too, they are a great live band now, but one of the highlights of the record is that it does their live sound justice. That’s not easy to capture.
There are also fewer drum rolls – thank god – but maybe that’s more of a sign of the increasing power and strength of the songwriting than the playing itself.
Michael, for one, has grown as a singer and is perhaps closer to knowing what he wants from music. There is more sophistication in the songwriting and the arrangements. There is more vulnerability in his voice, which is more honest in my opinion, after all, we are not gods.
‘Coming Out’ – here comes the single (I think).. I can definitley hear this one on an alternative rock station.
(The angels of grunge are wondering where the syringes are).
They remain loyal to their dirty high school blues and mascara-ridden (yet no sign of bleeding black streaks, yet) emo, loud guitar-driven rock n roll.
They are certainly breaking out of their mould, and venturing into new territory (for them). It should make for an even more dynamic show.
Having said all this, they are true hometown, USA, working-class rockers, and for that, I salute them!
Editor’s Note — This is a preview. Prototype will be released to the public on November 17th.
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!
So if you read our last article by now you know that it was a total bust. It turns out in order to have a podcast you need a recorder, technology, sound, etc. Which is way too much effort for a free site with a revolving cast of writers and non-writers that don’t get paid and therefore have very little incentive to do, well, ANYTHING they plain don’t want to.
So we’re pivoting back to good old fashioned 19th century text! That’s right, dancing about architecture again just like we did when you first fell in love with us!
That being said, we need inspiration… stuff to write about. And while we will probably go to some shows and write about them, when it comes to your personal music we really want it to be voluntary since we’ve been told we can be brutally, BRUTALLY honest when it comes to something we don’t like. So if you want a review on the coolest site in the tri-state area and you’re not afraid of a few (or a ton) of poison laced barbs… or if you’re a good sport like all our hall of famers on the link to the— left? my left? stage left… please submit any and all music to us at email@example.com!
And though we prefer supergreat local stuff, we will review ANYTHING we receive. So if you recorded yourself on your cell phone banging on a pot for 6 hours and you’re from New Mexico, we will unlike most commercial sites give it a genuine listen for at least 6 hours and probably 12 or 18. We’re into weird shit.
Submit everything you’ve got today! And if we really like you, we WILL probably request an interview and/or come to one of your shows.
From all your old pals here at Times Boredom, we thank you for reading this post. Seriously, if you even made it this far and have read up to here we really appreciate it given how terrible we are at consistently posting stuff, being a consistent publication about similar/related music, etc. We’re admittedly lazy fucks that don’t make any $$ of this so we just do whatever we feel like. And right now, we feel like listening to your crappy new band for hours and really give it a good, deep listen until we can’t take it anymore and have to write an article begging you to let us know why you sent us, much less made this pile of… what were you thinking?!