Abandon Ship! – Get Blazed

Abandon Ship! are from Basingstoke. It’s worth letting that sink in for a moment. When you’re grumbling about your lot in lockdown at least you’re not having to spend it in a town in which the most interesting thing is the collection of decorated roundabouts on the ring road. I jest of course – I’m sure that Basingstoke really does have much to appeal.

Abandon Ship! mention in their press release that they draw fresh inspiration from the Australian sounds of Ocean Alley and Sticky Fingers. They’re not the only band I’ve seen recently that have cited Sticky Fingers as an influence. I had no idea when I saw Sticky Fingers live back in 2014 at a free gig at Leicester’s Cookie (review here) that I was in the company of future legends. Admittedly, they were pretty great though – and I wish I’d committed more of that gig to memory.

I called it back then. Sticky Fingers’ sound seemed pretty wrapped up in weed culture. And you could be forgiven for thinking that the recent single from Abandon Ship! ‘Get Blazed’ was inhaling from that same pot if you’re the sort that takes song titles in isolation. “Yeah normally it would mean that,“, says lead guitarist, Jordan Baggs, when I ask about the reference. “Although In this case it’s more the notion of getting away from the mundane, releasing yourself from the slog of a life of 9-5.“.

It is a stonker of a track for sure. It’s a tune all about friendship – about going away with a group of best mates on holiday and loving every minute that you spend in their company. It beautifully captures that feeling you sometimes get when sitting in a pub garden with a large gang of friends and laughing so much that it hurts. It’s the Zoom call that you never want to leave because you feel so at ease with the other people on it. 

Musically, Abandon Ship! have delivered a track with all sorts of indie shimmer. The laidback vibe glistens throughout but that doesn’t mean that the earworm of a chorus won’t stridently march forward and lodge itself in your head before the day is done. 

And ‘Get Blazed’ probably hits home harder than ever right now because our opportunity to get away from the mundane with friends we love is so scarce. That will change though and when it does, the resulting party will surely be wild. 

Yep – even in Basingstoke.

Ward Thomas – Cartwheels

I’m a bit out of touch with music charts. Long gone are the days when I would study the data in Smash Hits; when I’d know who was ‘this week’s highest climber’ in advance of the now disgraced Radio One DJ telling me on Top Of The Pops. 

I had absolutely no idea that an act I once wrote about in 2014 (here) had now had a bona-fide number one album. I knew that the career of Ward Thomas had taken an upward trajectory but I had no sense how much. I don’t hate it when my friends become successful. Well done Catherine and Lizzy.

I’d love to claim that I was there at the start of their journey and that it was my blog post that helped them on their way. But, clearly it wasn’t. This is down to hard work on their part, enthusiastic Radio 2 support and a sprinkling of promotional activity from their record label. I saw them again at Brighton’s Great Escape in May 2015 and it was easy to see the progress since that night in the Italian restaurant.

Ward Thomas released a new video today to accompany their third single from the number one album, Cartwheels. This song, also called Cartwheels, will have some Sonic Breakfast readers sticking their fingers down their throats in general disgust. “Sean’s gone soft“, some might say with others arguing that it’s always been thus.

But I like this. The harmonies are fab and the arrangement exquisite. The song stands up to scrutiny as well. It’s a bit of a heart-wrencher, a lament of a lover who refuses to accept that a relationship has bitten the dust. The video’s full of artistic endeavour, ballet being the chosen dance form with which to express the pain of the withering love. 

I never could cartwheel. 

 

Ward Thomas – Footnotes (Happy Ending)

 

Yee-haw.

I’d had a hard day in London. I probably should have headed straight home on the train. But there was an ‘industry’ showcase to go to, wine to drink and nibbles to munch on. There might even be some music to enjoy but that would simply be a bonus. 

This was a showcase for Ward Thomas, 19 year old, Country singing, twin sisters from Hampshire. I was ushered down into a cosy basement of an Italian restaurant. I realised that I’m not really a fan of these showcases. But it was buzzing, the red wine was flowing and the pizza was good. 

You couldn’t get away from the fact that there was money at play here. Catherine and Lizzie are probably out of the public school system and you sense that there’s dosh behind them. But, it’s not as if their opportunity is based upon zilch talent so who am I to begrudge them their privilege?

The twins took to the stage. They had a small band with them. This showcase was a short set but, aided by more wine, my enjoyment heightened. This was firmly in Radio 2 territory but the close harmonies, vocal flexes and charming delivery just about converted me. Smiles go a long way and Catherine and Lizzie are full of them.

I picked up an advanced copy of their ‘Footnotes’ EP. It mightn’t be cool to confess to a love of country but I find it’s good driving music for the car. 

On getting back to Leicester, I spied Ian Magic Teapot having a beer in the Criterion. Ian Magic Teapot is quite possibly the best promoter of live music in Leicester. For years now, he’s bought a range of quality acts to this city. He deserves a medal. It was good to see Ian because he’d recently had a nasty bike accident. Still buzzing from the wine, I spoke about the charms of Ward Thomas. Ian took my CD. I have others in my car.

I note that Ward Thomas are now listed as support for The Webb Sisters at a Teapot gig on July 10th. That’s shaping up to be quite a show.

Anyway, since that evening in London, the ‘Footnotes’ EP has had a physical release. Ward Thomas seem to be doing lots of radio interviews in the US. And this week, one of the tunes from the EP, The good and the right, was Radio 2’s track of the day. Here’s the title track from their EP.

And here’s the video, released this week, for The good and the right.