Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves
Chris Wollard and the Ship Thieves


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dan Smith USER (74 Reviews)
March 10th, 2009 | 11 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An enjoyable and refreshingly laid-back solo effort from Hot Water Music co-vocalist Chris Wollard.

These last few years have seen a vast number of established punk rock musicians taking the plunge and going it alone on various solo projects, and this year sees Hot Water Music's Chris Wollard doing the very same. Having spent the last fifteen years touring and recording with HWM, as well as stints in American Football-esque emo types The Blacktop Cadence, folk/country three-piece Rumbleseat, and most recently taking the lead with The Draft, this is Chris' first true expedition into solo territory.

Where his fellow Hot Water Musician Chuck Ragan forged a path of rugged and anthemic folk with his solo work, Chris has taken a slightly different route, crafting a sublime collection of soft, lilting, folkish indie-rock, often coming across like a more laid-back take on the last couple of Replacements albums. What's immediately noticable is the approach Chris has taken with regard to his vocals, eschewing for the most part the strong, passionate yells and throaty, melodic delivery which helped make HWM's music so distictive, and instead focusing on a richer, smokier delivery among the lower registers of his vocal range. Not only does this show an effective and yet completely different side to the his significant vocal talent, but it also draws a distinction between The Ship Thieves and Chris' other works (something some of his contemporaries, Tom Gabel of Against Me for example, have struggled to do).

Despite being a solo project in the sense that all the songs were written and arranged by Chris, he's joined here by a whole cast of friends and well-known local musicians from Gainesville, with the likes of Derron Nuhfer (ex-Gunmoll and Less than Jake), Ben Lovett (Heavens), and HWM drummer George Rebelo among others, all providing varied extra instrumentation which truly brings the songs here to life. From the hugely-catchy and fuzzy garage-rock of opener "No Exception" to the gentle acoustic lilt of "Hey B" which closes the procedings, there's a very organic feel to the music - mostly acoustic or lightly-distorted guitars, the odd distant lead guitar part, gentle unobtrusive keyboard and organ textures, backing vocal harmonies, and Chris' ever-present vocals all washing over you like a warm breeze. Even the busier tracks like the aforementioned opener and the almost bluesy couplet of "All the Things You Know" and "Oh, Whatever" still manage to retain a refreshingly laid-back feel.

The key to Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves' charm is it's ability to create a relaxed mood without ever becoming boring or drifting into the background. Despite the outwardly upbeat feel to the music, the occasional minor-key melody and Chris' contemplative lyrics add some real emotive depth (best displayed on "The Same to You," a personal favourite), and the perfectly arranged tracklisting flows well, and yet ensures plenty of variation. This is the sort of album that'd be the perfect accompaniment to a long drive, preferably at night - an idea alluded to in the album's beautiful packaging, adorned as it is with photographs of twilight skies, open fields and roads.

It's not fully apparent what's going on with Chris' other projects with regards to touring and recording, but if a little downtime can result in an album as thoughtful, refreshing and enjoyable as this, there's clearly little to be worried about, and I for one look forward to hearing more from Chris Wollard & The Ship Thieves.



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user ratings (18)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
spoon_of_grimbo
March 10th 2009


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

first review in a while; i've been kept pretty busy with coursework recently, and probably will be for the next coupla weeks, but i've found the time to put this review together in between essays, hope y'all like it!

anyway, this is a great album, even better than i was expecting. you can stream it in its entirety here:

http://www.punknews.org/bands/chriswollardandtheshipthieves


i'm not sure why the band name is coming up like that, and i've tried three times to upload the album cover image, but i'm being told it's the wrong filetype (despite it being a jpeg!). if the mods are able to fix this somehow, the album cover's here:

http://www.noidearecords.com/bands/releases/covers/chriswollard_shipthieves.jpg

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2009


17224 Comments


nice. im listening to the stream now and so far its pretty solid.

taylormemer
March 11th 2009


4944 Comments


My latest review encountered the same problem at this one.

spoon_of_grimbo
March 12th 2009


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i hate to be the whine-bitch-and-moaner, but i prefered the old sputnik setup. it looked bolder and more eye-catching, and stuff like this (like the pic not uploading) never happened.

in other news, i'm STILL spinning this album heavily. such a good late-night album for relaxing to.

ShadowRemains
April 21st 2011


21315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this rules

mitch91
May 10th 2011


412 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have to say, I think I like this more than any other HWM-related release. Even Caution or The Draft's album. Can't wait for the second record.

Digging: Restorations - LP3

ShadowRemains
May 29th 2011


21315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

been digging no exception recently.

ShadowRemains
October 14th 2012


21315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

they have a new album coming out?

sweet

ShadowRemains
January 11th 2013


21315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

band rules

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


16089 Comments


yeah man, actually just jammed the new record earlier today. dhit slayed

ShadowRemains
January 11th 2013


21315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah, heavy rolling thunder is the shit



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