Naming your musical project Ships Have Sailed is kind of like naming it Led Zeppelin — the moniker suggests that something is far past its prime, or that it’s flat out defunct. Instead, the California band signifies much more optimistic imagery, casting out vibes as pacific as a midday cruise on the waterfront. The Los Angeles duo behind the moniker dock at Boston harbor for the first time this upcoming Wednesday and Thursday to share the soothing acoustic hush of their recent Whispers EP.
The Plough and Stars and P.A.’s Lounge traditionally don’t draw people looking to hear the newest swan-song soft rock, but both venues will host duo Will Carpenter and Art Andranikyan for the tail end of the East Coast tour. Venturing out from the comforts of their West coast home, the pair shares the seafaring fruits of their May release tomorrow, November 9 (at the Plough in Cambridge, with no cover) and Thursday, November 10 (at P.A.’s in Somerville, part of IPO Boston).
“It’s actually worked out really well to have a larger acoustic repertoire this time around,” Carpenter tells Vanyaland. “We are able to cater to a wider variety of venues and really tailor our set to the show we’re playing. We’ve been playing full-scale sets, but here and there we’ve been stripping down to ‘almost acoustic’ and playing all the tracks off Whispers as well as some of the softer stuff off ‘Someday’… it’s really gratifying to see people respond to the range we can offer, and it helps keep the sets fresh for us as well!”
For an album titled Whispers, the amount of stripped-down tracks fits Goldilocks-level “just right” with the title of the all-acoustic EP. Singing “Do you feel lucky?” usually comes as a sneering remark on a punk track or a knockout pre-chorus hook, but Carpenter’s delivery of the question presents itself as a genuine post-date inquiry. Similarly, in what could be a scathing diss track, “Criminal” has the ability to lull a restless mind with vocals and gentle acoustic guitar that melts together into a coo.
Whispers was recorded at Carpenter’s home in Silverlake and mixes two new melodies with three unplugged versions from their past two releases, creating a naked image of the band’s core sound: sincerity. Add in a John Lennon Songwriter Competition win under their belts and the duo stands among good company, like locals the Rare Occasions.
With the onset of the holiday season on the shore’s horizon, Ships Have Sailed will provide the inner calm that cranky Bostonians can’t get from a Dunk’s hot chocolate after a certain hour. And really, anyone living in a town outside of Boston could use an excuse to not be pissed off one in a while.