Release Date: Jan 18, 2011
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Click to listen to Tennis' "Marathon" and "Take Me Somewhere" Great backstory: Denver husband-and-wife team Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley sail around the East Coast for eight months, then write songs about their voyage. Jimmy Buffett this ain't: Think Neko Case's cover of the Shangri-Las' "Train From Kansas City," with Best Coast's fuzzed-out guitars. Moore's voice isn't huge, but she uses it well, morphing o's into "oh-whoa-ohs" like a siren in a frilly Fifties swimsuit, while Riley's guitar lines sparkle like sun-kissed breakers.
“This one’s called ‘Marathon.’ It’s about the first time we ever sailed at night, and it’s exactly like being in outer space, and it’s really scary. And when I was doing it I was like, the only reason why this is worth it is ‘cause I can tell a really cool story afterwards. So this is the story.” This was how Tennis, the husband-and-wife duo from Denver, Colo., recently introduced “Marathon,” one of the standout tracks on the band’s first full-length, Cape Dory.
Warm surf pop to melt the winter blahs away Whoever was behind the decision to release Cape Dory — Tennis’ gorgeous, beachy debut — in mid-January is a genius. On paper, it might seem odd to drop a sun-soaked album in the dead of winter, but while it’s chock-full of “ooh”s, “ahh”s and “sha-la-la”s, Cape Dory is not a summer album. Powered by nostalgia and just the right amount of cabin fever, this is a record meant for those of us longing to go somewhere — anywhere — as we wrap ourselves in another blanket, sip on a hot toddy, gaze out the window at snow-covered trees and dream of sand.
My first reaction to the new Tennis album was incredulity. That can’t possibly be the album cover, can it? Someone took the next Vampire Weekend cover and changed the band name and title, right? Please? At least promise me that this isn’t full of the hair metal jams that the picture seems to suggest are found within. And after kicking through the album a few times, I’m still not sure where that cover came from.
By now, it’s no secret that Tennis’ debut, Cape Dory, was inspired by Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore’s seven-month voyage along the East Coast in the husband and wife’s sailboat, also known as The Swift Ranger. Yet while tales of the life aquatic are at the heart of this record, there is no denying that they are kept afloat by the youthful earnesty and composure of Moore’s vocals. Her delivery makes lyrics like “We can play in the surf/Holding hands/And nap through the day on some beach sand” (“Cape Dory”) possible to pull off with complete sincerity and also gives Tennis’ brand of surf pop an edge.
Everyone loves a good “meet cute” story. Whole movies are built around them, in fact. The Colorado-based band Tennis have a good one. The duo of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore met in college, fell in love, got married, and (here’s the cute part) spent seven months in a sailboat traveling the Eastern Seaboard.
The backstory to Tennis’ anticipated debut Cape Dory is as individual and personal as the band’s music itself: The album is more or less a travelogue of the seven months that married bandmates Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley spent on a small Cape Dory yacht together, with a tracklist announcing ports-of-call along the Atlantic seaboard from “Bimini Bay” to “South Carolina” to “Baltimore”. But more than Cape Dory‘s clever concept, what has really gotten Tennis noticed is its buoyant, head-bobbing pop, which can’t help but recall other nautically inclined bands in feel and theme. At its best, Tennis comes off like a lo-fi Beach Boys on a cloudy east coast day or a more classically indie Vampire Weekend, just as jaunty even without the world music pretentions.
While not exactly considered the most rock'n'roll act in the world, the list of maritally consecrated couples in music is endless. From John Lennon and Yoko Ono to Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, each would seem to be a marriage made in heaven that's only enhanced down the recording studio. Denver based couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley - aka Tennis - are the latest additions to the music world's interpretation of Mr & Mrs.
Finally determined to turn their mental diversion into reality, husband—wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore embarked on an eight-month journey across the Atlantic so they could have the most delightful of stories to tell. Their story has captivated a plenty who wish to escape from their mundane lives to fulfill the ultimate honeymoon. It’s easy to see the appeal since these are the sorts of uncertainties couples go through at least once in their lives, whether it’s a big move, a trip to a foreign destination, or a permanent holiday.
In May 2010, when homemade indie pop of every stripe was deep in the throes of its baffling obsession with the beach, a new band was taking the music to the next logical place: the open sea. Tennis, we learned, were a married boy-girl duo from Denver, and their earliest circulated mp3s came with an odd story. After finishing college in Colorado, the couple sold their possessions, bought a sailboat, and embarked on an extended trip along the Eastern Seaboard.
Escapism is, of course, for the weak. But sometimes it’s nice to be pathetic, and if [a]Tennis[/a]’ backstory puts you warily in mind of those people who work half the year in pubs to spend the rest in Indonesia stocking up on insufferability, the results of married couple Alaina and Patrick’s eight-month voyage on a boat round the American coast are far more agreeable. Not just there for the blog posts in life, the hip-shimmying likes of the featherweight summer doowoop of [b]‘Take Me Somewhere’[/b] and the finger-clicking crush-flush of [b]‘Marathon’[/b] are like [a]Best Coast[/a] after a week off the weed breathing in lungfuls of fresh ocean air.
Precious. Let me spell it out: P-R-E-C-I-O-U-S. And not in a based-on-the-novel-Push-by-Sapphire way. In fact, Tennis is about as far as you can get on the opposite end of the American pop culture spectrum from a kitchen-sink realist depiction of a troubled youth’s coming of age, even though Cape Dory, the band’s debut, is based more on actual events than most.
Logging a seven-month sail from Florida up the Eastern seaboard, Cape Dory splashes down Denver marrieds Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, who co-wrote the 10 all-too-brief log entries of the trio's instant gratification. James Barone's beat uptick on opener "Take Me Somewhere" and Moore's best Tanya Donelly bounce the tune into girl-group grist, instrumentation soft so as not to spoil the sleepover. "Long Boat Pass" could swim the Go-Go's Vacation, the GG-spot between needling and jangling giving much pleasure.
This debut breezes by in less than half an hour — a mere fraction of the seven months that its creators, a married couple from Denver, spent living and traveling together on a sailboat before recording it. (Cape Dory was the name of their craft.) They memorialize their adventures with 10 nautically themed love songs. While the album feels underwritten at times, Tennis? winsome harmonies and reverb-y strumming often recall the charms of early-’60s pop.
Married duo’s debut has its mesmerising moments, but overall is too reticent. Daniel Ross 2011 Apropos of seemingly very little other than boredom and disillusionment, husband-and-wife duo Tennis (otherwise known as Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore) decided to buy a boat and skirt around the Atlantic coastline and write songs about it. What we might reasonably expect, then, is an epic tale of seafaring derring-do, of shanties and odes dedicated to the deep; but Cape Dory is actually a rather more poppy, peppy affair.