Minimalist pop band Tennis have developed a knack for crafting covers of unexpected musicians like The Zombies and Broadcast, selections eclectic enough to make a record store clerk proud.
Tennis is husband-wife duo Aliana Moore (vocals & keyboards) and Patrick Riley (guitar), collegiate philosophers who formed the band after a seven-month sailing excursion down the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard. (Can’t make this stuff up, folks!) Unsurprisingly their debut album Cape Dory featured major nautical elements, with titles like “Seafarer” and lyrics like “Take me out baby, I wanna go sail tonight” (from the title track). James Barone on drums rounds out the group, who just released their second album, Young & Old on Fat Possum. Their sophomore production features a richer sense of instrumentation, buoyed by the sharp production skills of Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Key tracks: My Better Self (bizarro retro-chic music video directed by Lilliput), and first single “Origins”… I adore the ski/spy caper premise of the video:
I saw Tennis perform last December at Bottom of the Hill, shortly before the release of Young & Old. I found their stage presence to be warmly affable, and it was refreshing to see a group display genuine enthusiasm in these sarcastic, ironic times. Moore even made an oh-so-mainstream reference to Sex and The City, joking about “not being a Carrie,” even though she resembles the curly-haired, diminuitive fashion plate. Also, just take a look at their official website (you can play Minesweeper on it, for real!) Tennis came off as resoundingly likable people who just dig hanging out on boats and playing sweet ’60’-influenced pop songs, what’s not to love?
The Zombies are best known as the least prominent of the ’60’s Brit Pop explosion. Don’t discount their mildly-dark baroque pop, which contains intriguing depth within its sunshine-y exterior. I first heard the Zombies on the Life Aquatic soundtrack, with the “The Way I Feel Inside,” a hypnotic whisper of a song. (Side note: Digging the soundtrack for Moonrise Kingdom, featuring chanteuse Franciose Hardy and sultry track “Le Temps de L’Amour”.) The Zombies’ 1968 album Odessey & Oracle was ranked as #80 on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Best Albums of all time, featuring some of their best work, including their well-known hit “Time of the Season.”
“Tell Her No” is a jaunty refusal of a track, here’s the 1964 original by the Zombies:
Tennis spun their own surprisingly faithful rendition of “Tell Her No”:
Broadcast was a captivating, enigmatic British band which burned brightly, but far too briefly. Trish Keenan fronted the retro-futuristic group, frequently compared to sometimes-collaborators Stereolab. Keenan’s honey-sweet vocals contrasts the almost staticky, electronic instrumentation, creating a unique sound that feels simultaneously warm and cool. “Tears in the Typing Pool” is a 2 minute song on their the 2005 album “Tender Buttons,” their final album which was titled after a 1918 poem by Gertrude Stein; it’s a hauntingly lovely song that I can’t help but play on repeat.
Broadcast’s original (I may have already posted this song on this blog but I DON’T CARE because it’s so good):
Tennis’ cover doesn’t quite capture the psychedelic crispness of the original, but adds a slight lo-fi haze, a gauzy finish.
So, thanks for the awesome covers, Tennis! Now, can you come pick me up and we can go hang out on your boat?
After almost five years of hosting a non-commercial radio show, I’ve decided to hang up my headphones. This was my final show as “Duffy” on KSCU 103.3 fm.
The show’s bittersweet theme:
Melancholy, dark beauty with a playful wink. The painful edge of the sublime. Life as a series of small deaths. The wild-eyed freedom linked with the finite. Transcendence.
(Not that I take myself too seriously.)
In true college-radio form, the show touched on an abundant number of intermingling genres, careening between 60’s-influenced surfer pop (Tennis), downtempo electronic fit for a European lounge (Buraka Som Sistema), synthed-out psychedelia (BMSR), and Venezuelan acid jazz (Los Amigos Invisibles), all connected through some ethereal thread.
BEST COAST the only place – the only place Single from Best Coast’s just-released second album, slickly produced by Jon Brion… sure to be a staple at this summer’s sun-drenched, chlorine-scented BBQ’s. Bethany and Bobb, you’ve done it again!
SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE hot fun in the summertime- greatest hits
WILD NOTHING live in dreams- gemini
ANDREW BIRD near death experience experience- break it yourself This morbidity-obsessed show wouldn’t be complete without this plucky gem from A.Bird’s 2012 release, “Break it Yourself”!
SUFJAN STEVENS futile devices (shigeto remix) A subtlety bass-inflected remix of Sufjan’s Age of Adz opener.
CAN vitamin c “Hey you!”
WILD BEASTS bed of nails- smother
MULATU ASTATKE yegelle tezetu 1970’s Ethiopian latin-tinged jazz…. talk about smooth.
COYOTE TRICKSTER pass well- coy Check out this funky fresh SF band on their bandcamp!
ALABAMA SHAKES you ain’t alone- boys & girls
BEACH HOUSE lazuli- bloom New Beach House…. guess I know what I’m playing on repeat for the next year! Keep an ear out for the secret song at the end of Bloom’s closing track “Irene”…
AUTOLUX highchair – K.V.Wong’s selection
BLOUSE into black- blouse
AIR so light is her footfall (breakbot remix)
BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW twin of myself- eating us This song/ video would be cool projected on a wall during a social gathering… just a thought.
GOLD PANDA you
BONOBO kiara (cosmin trg remix)- black sands remix
OF MONTREAL lysergic bliss- satanic panic in the attic Funny how in spite of all my woes, life could appear rosy and clear
LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES ease your mind – Gonzilla pick
SUFJAN STEVENS star of wonder
A sincere thank you to all I have encountered on this radio adventure. Five years!