Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Tennis is a band with interesting origins. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley met at the University of Colorado and embarked on a sailing trip together after graduation in search of creative inspiration. It came in the form of music, as they began writing songs as a way to document their experiences at sea.
Their first album, 2010’s “Cape Dory,” was the result.
After their debut was recognized by NPR, Tennis had secured their place in the indie scene.
The years since have culminated in three more full-length albums, the most recent coming out in March of 2017.
The recent album, “Yours Conditionally,” was the culmination of another sailboat journey. This album marked a change for Tennis, as they really wanted to produce it themselves. The music industry was looming heavy on them, and they needed to break out.
The duo stated in a 2017 press release “Yours Conditionally” was all about “extricating ourselves from an industry that made us feel joyless and restrained.”
The pair ended up recording and producing the record entirely by themselves and even ended up starting their own record label, Mutually Detrimental.
Breaking out of industry restraints and having complete artistic freedom was extremely productive for Tennis, and they have received a lot of positive attention from the album. Tennis’s sound definitely has a retro feel, with a clear influence of ‘70s pop. It is this influence that really sets them apart from more typical pop music, and their songs have a nice groove.
Take “My Emotions Are Blinding,” a song somewhat sarcastic in lyrics but effortlessly catchy in sound. If you have never heard Tennis before, this is a great representation of their style.
“Ladies Don’t Play Guitar” is another sarcastic offering, this time a more blatant critique of sexism in the rock world. Alaina Moore sings about how ladies do not get down to that gritty rock sound, posing instead as a caricature of a woman supporting her rock star husband’s dreams. The irony is obvious, as Moore is clearly a talented musician fronting a successful band.
“Yours Conditionally” really finds its success in its contrast, as the previously mentioned songs are interspersed with others of love. As standalones, songs like “Fields of Blue” may sound like genuine love songs, but in the greater context of the album, there is something else there that is not so perfect.
Tennis’s most recent release is their EP “We Can Die Happy.” Moore describes it as the result of “reveling in the sense of freedom and control” they have found after taking a leap of faith to record independently.
The sound on these songs is much more dreamlike, and it is obvious Tennis is enjoying the afterglow of the success of their previous full-length. The album is emotional and deep, much more self-exploratory and intimate than the title might suggest.
In a way, these songs function as an extension of “Yours Conditionally.”
The Cat’s Cradle show will likely include a good mix of tunes from these two albums, as well as some of their older offerings. With a ton of material to offer, Tennis is sure to craft a setlist that serves as a great representation of who they are and what they sound like.
Tennis will share the stage with Overcoats, an electronic-pop duo that will serve as a great contrast to Tennis’s more retro-sound.
Hailing from New York, the duo creates minimalistic music that interestingly draws from folk and bluegrass influences. They released their first full-length album, “YOUNG” last year, and they were impressively strong out of the gate.
NPR considered Overcoats’s debut to be one of the best albums of 2017, calling it “a record driven by ambition and passion.”
Between Overcoats and Tennis, the concert will surely prove to be a night full of creatively written and skillfully performed music.
Tennis plays at the Cat’s Cradle on Jan. 27. You can find tickets online at http://catscradle.com/event/tennis/. Make sure to also stay tuned for a concert review in next week’s issue of The Carolinian.