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. 

 

Abandon Her

Tonight’s been another showcase night. 

A new venue for this blog but not a new venue for me because it was back to the shed. 

The shed is an earthy grunge of a venue. Every city should have one. 

 The shed is a legendary Leicester venue. It’s the venue where Kasabian developed their craft (apparently). It hosted the Arctic Monkeys the only time they’ve played in this city (to my knowledge). I walked in and was met by Kevin, the owner. He has always been a charming man. He still is. It was like I’ve never been away. 
 

Five bands on tonight but I’d like to feature Abandon Her. I’ve seen them before and even though that was more of an acoustic affair, the talent dripped through and I resolved to see them again. Abandon her are a band of hers and a drummer called Giles. You’re not going to get rock posturing from them but instead it’s polite, clever, AOR harmonies over guitar and piano pop. They have a tendency to slip a few too many covers into their set for my liking. On the evidence of tonight, they don’t need to for their own songwriting stands up to critique. It’s infectious, singalong pop which probably bypasses Radio 1 and heads straight for Radio 2 territory. This is no bad thing.

 

And that perhaps means it’s not for everyone. 

But, when the city is populated by boys with guitars singing in Sheffield snarls in an effort to impersonate Alex Turner, I say good on Abandon Her for ploughing a different field. 

 

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.