That stifling humidity and unrelenting sunlight which inherently comes hand in hand with residing in the sub-tropical climes of Brisbane can sometimes seep into the music of band’s emerging from the city’s thriving scene, and rising indie rock stars Thigh Master are no exception. Originally conceived as a project for brothers Matthew and Daniel Ford of Brisbane-via-Memphis psych-pop outfit Black Vacation, one allowing younger brother Matthew’s songwriting to shine, the band – rounded out by drummer Patrick Byron – played their first few sets of Flying Nun-inspired rock’n’roll underneath a sharehouse in Milton overshadowed by the iconic XXXX brewery, the stench of rotting hops lingering in the air.
While many guitar pop bands tend to develop more easy going tendencies, Thigh Master establish their appeal through songs of apathy and heartbreak that constantly teeter on the edge of complete breakdown, with one hand always on the pint glass.
Which isn’t to say that Thigh Master’s edgy brand of indie rock isn’t accessible, nor that the band doesn’t possess a fierce work ethic. Self-releasing their early releases on their own Tenth Court label – the highly-regarded imprint which now also serves as home for indie bands all over the country including Wireheads, Mope City, Naked, Chook Race, Tralala Blip and more – Thigh Master quickly sold out the entire run of their first two singles (2014’s Head Of The Witch and 2015’s Songs To Wipe Your Mouth To) including strong sales in the US as the result of positive blog traction. After the addition of second guitarist Dusty Anasstasiou, the band conducted a successful tour of Japan in February 2015 – seven shows including a packed Tokyo show with Japanese icons Guitar Wolf and rising US garage rockers The Coathangers, as well as two sold out headlining shows – and have a return Japanese run scheduled for November 2016. They’ve also toured extensively throughout Australia – numerous runs up and down the east coast augmented by multiple visits to Adelaide – and on home soil they’ve shared stages with acts such as The Clean, Ty Segall, Real Estate, Ariel Pink and Courtney Barnett as well as many of their peers and contemporaries from the verdant Australian underground.
Now after a few initial line-up changes before settling into the current stable line-up – which features founding members Matthew Ford (vocals/guitar) and Byron (drums) now joined by guitarist Innez Tulloch (Deafcult, Feathers, Roku Music) and bassist Hayden Knight – Thigh Master are set to release their debut album Early Times, an assured collection of urgent indie rock which expands upon the band’s thrilling early DIY bent and takes into new and exciting territories. Recorded primarily while former guitarist Dusty Anastassiou and bassist Daniel Ford were still in the ranks, Early Times was engineered and mixed by Blank Realm guitarist Luke Walsh between late-2013 and early-2016 in various Brisbane rehearsal spaces (including the much-missed Hangar) and sharehouses, the cohesive document staying true to the band’s underground Brisbane roots whilst representing a great leap forward for the exciting ensemble.
To be released locally on new Brisbane indie label Coolin’ By Sound in Australia/NZ and Bruit Disques Direct in Europe/USA, Thigh Master’s Early Times is a confident and assured opening gambit by a band who dole out frantic, hook-laden tunes with seemingly effortless abandon, which in conjunction with their energetic live show is poised to open a lot of doors for them both at home and overseas.
What critics said about Thigh Master single Company:
“…a sub-two-minute frenzy of lo-fi pop-timism wrestled down from its perch by the signature snarlingly bratty drawl of frontman Matthew Ford” Rolling Stone Australia
“Terse as it is catchy, the sub two-minute track is a relentless workout of marathoning hooks” Cereal and Sounds
“It’s urgent, it’s raw and it’s fun enough to make you want to throw yourself around like a plush monkey” Mick Rad
THIGH MASTER ARE:
Matthew Ford – vocals/guitar
Patrick Byron – drums
Innez Tulloch – Guitar (Deafcult, Feathers, Roku Music)
Hayden Knight – Bass
Thigh Master’s debut album Early Times is released on vinyl through Coolin’ By Sound 7th October, 2016.
Noisey.Vice Australia – Float Through The Astral Plane With Thigh Master On Their Company Video (June 2016)
Rolling Stone Australia – Five For Friday (June 2016)
Who The Hell.net (single review) – Canned Opening (September 2016)
The Music (album review) – Early Times (October 2016)
Rolling Stone Australia (album review) – Early Times (October 2016)
Noisey – Track by Track, Early Times (October 2016)
The Music – Interview with Matthew Ford (October 2016)
Sonic Masala (album review) – Early Times (October 2016)
4ZZZ (album review) – Early Times (October 2016)
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.
Yet 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 over musicality of his newly-minted bandmates – whose individual voices are increasingly taking root in the Shrapnel aesthetic – and the self-recorded collection also makes Wilkinson’s strong production skills dramatically apparent.
So abandon those pesky preconceptions and open your mind to the horizon-broadening brilliance of Shrapnel where the pop and underground worlds collide – catching some Shrapnel has never been so life-affirming!
What critics have said about previous Shrapnel releases:
“… a lot of cantankerous, haphazard, blistering in the shade rock on offer.”Sonic Masala
“… a left of centred guitar pop gem.”I Oh You
“…an album of lo-fi, DIY guitar-psych mayhem.”Pop Lib
Sam Wilkinson – guitars, vocals (Day Ravies, Mope City, Sachet, Beef Jerk, King Tears Mortuary)
Matt Neville – guitars, vocals (Day Ravies, Mope City)
Pete Beringer – drums (Julia Why?, King Tears Mortuary)
Nic Johnson – bass, vocals (Miners, Dick Pix)
Chris Yates – guitars, vocals (Weak Boys, Dollar Bar)
Shrapnel’s debut album Tranceplanetsugarmouth is released on vinyl through Coolin’ By Sound October 28th, 2016.
Single Premiere ‘Another Year’ – Soundly Sounds (August 2016)
Single Review ‘Another Year’ – The Music (August 2016)
Rolling Stone Australia – Five for Friday (August 2016)
First Listen: ‘Tranceplanetsugarmouth’ – Rolling Stone Australia (October 2016)