The truly unique music of ragtag Sydney indie outfit Shrapnel is in some ways a throwback to a more artistically open-minded time. Their songs capture the spirit of adventure and willingness to abandon convention in the chase of a memorable moment which was previously so prevalent in the US indie rock scene of the mid-90s, when bands like Guided By Voices, Built To Spill and Pavement would regularly redefine the parameters within which they could and would operate. The result is a batch of sonic journeys which throw the rulebook out the window with wild and unpredictable – but never less than spell-binding – results.
Originally starting life as a bedroom project to cater for the prolific creative vision of mainstay Sam Wilkinson (Day Ravies, Mope City, Beef Jerk, King Tears Mortuary), after two successful cassette releases – 2014’s Tobacco Dreams (Tenth Court) and 2015’s Carpet Yankers (Strange Pursuits) –Shrapnel started to morph into a band of its own accord, picking up members at a regular and unrelenting pace (including past and present members of Day Ravies, Mope City, Julia Why?, Miners, Weak Boys and Dollar Bar).
But while Shrapnel may have evolved from a synth-pop side-project into a fully-fledged dream band, the crux of its music remains rooted around Wilkinson’s unique and idiosyncratic vision, a strain of wistful, otherworldly melancholia which twists and turns through strange new vistas but which is rife with left-of-centre hooks and melodies which eke their way into your brain and once there refuse to relinquish their stranglehold.
Shrapnel’s debut album Tranceplanetsugarmouth (out late-October through new Brisbane label Coolin’ By Sound) is the perfect distillation of this willingness to deviate from the beaten track. It’s a diverse batch of songs united by Wilkinson’s voice and vision and the overt musicality of his newly-minted bandmates – whose individual voices are increasingly taking root in the Shrapnel aesthetic – while the self-recorded collection also makes Wilkinson’s strong production skills dramatically apparent.
The album’s debut single Another Year is the perfect introduction to the album, an existential look at the inexorable march of time and pain inherent in gradually relinquishing one’s youth, set to chiming, repetitive guitars mirroring the unrelenting nature of the subject matter.
To celebrate the single’s release and to pave the way for Tranceplanetsugarmouth Shrapnel are playing single launches in both Brisbane and Sydney, roping in some like-minded friends to ensure that these parties rock and roll in all the right ways. Catch yourself a bit of Shrapnel!
Saturday 3 September – Botany View Hotel, Sydney NSW
w/ Solid Effort + Miners + Contrast (Melb) Free / 8pm
Tranceplanetsugarmouth out October 2016 through Coolin’ By Sound Records.