Whether it was fear of the trademark bogeyman emerging from small-hours infomercial hell or it was just time for a change, but the artist(s) formally known as Thigh Master is now Dippers.
As they put singles and an album or two behind them, most guitar pop groups tend to shed any rough edges, exuberance, energy, propulsion, and other associated special elements in the name of "maturity", "increased focus on songwriting" and other concerns that basically translate to a prolonged yawn. Thigh Master was always a strident, more rambunctious proposition, and this is carried over 150% to Dippers.
For the first album under said moniker, (Thigh Master) founder and leader Matthew Ford (Vocals, Guitar, Drums, Bass, Synth, Percussion) is again joined by Innez Tulloch (Vocals, Guitar, Keys, Synth, Bass, Melodica), who is now Ford's principle songwriting partner. Longtime Thigh Master collaborator Dusty Anastassiou (Dag, Permits) provides some guitar action on a handful of tracks.
Dippers' 2023 full-length, Clastic Rock for Goner Records, doubles down on Ford & crew's supernatural skill at something possessed by only a tiny handful of very special entities that exist under the voluminous banner of indie-jangle/pop: Immediacy. You won't even realize you're listening to indie-jangle/pop (or whatever term one prefers), cuz it takes just a few seconds of the gorgeous down-strummed acousti-riffs tumbling down the stairs across opener "S.I.M." for this thing to own your ass. The album is filled with stop-start dynamics that work to create hooks within hooks (a trick at which this band excels), especially on "Comment's Grip". "Staggering the Recipe" could easily pass the blindfolded taste test as a lost nugget from the late Chris Knox/Tall Dwarfs, while Nicole Thibault of Thibault and Minimum Chips brings excellent trombone chops (also a name from the Dippers' Thigh Master pre-history) to "Encouragement in Brackets," "Drop to Inoperant" & "Takings from the Bar;" and visual artist Nicky Minus makes an appearance on flute for “Recurrent Sight.”
Like a lot of your favorite new albums, this one was recorded and conceived of (at least partially so) during the pandemic lockdowns. Though, if you sift through the Thigh Master discography, you might notice that sporadic home recording sessions are not a new concept to the group. The intervals of ragged, jangly guitar riffs interspersed with waves of sonic mischief pulls from the sounds of stylistic historical royalty such as Television Personalities, pre-bizarro Wedding Present and the scrappier of C86/Rough Trade/Postcard Records quantities, classic Flying Nun (namely The Verlaines, The Bats, The Chills, 3Ds, Look Blue Go Purple) and the 80s/90s groundwork laid by fellow Aussies The Go-Betweens, The Moles, The Cannanes, and the early years of Half-A-Cow Records (Smudge, Sneeze, The Plunderers, etc).
Clastic Rock track list:
- Tightening the Tangles
- Comment's Grip
- Encouragement in Brackets
- Kitchen Paralysis
- Staggering the Recipe
- A Tense Dream (After the Fact)
- Drop to Inoperant
- On the Bend
- Dredging with a Clasp
- Recurrent Sight
- Dockside Spectacles
- Lala Falls (Porto and the Clouds)
- Takings from the Bar