Ray - Tennis, Young & Old (2012) I’m a sucker for hometown stories. I’m also a sucker for a sunny female vocal and stacked harmonies, which leads me back to Tennis. The Denver-based trio’s 2011 debut — Cape Dory — boats dual inspirations: a sailboat trip that began at St. Pete's municipal marina and a song called “Baby It’s You” by 1960’s all-female vocal quartet The Shirelles. The LP made the band Internet darlings, and they’ve mostly staved off any potential blog backlash (it’s easy to be fickle and condescending when you’re hiding behind a computer screen) with their new one, Young & Old.
The 12-tracks that make up their sophomore effort find Tennis — comprised of husband & wife Thomas and Alaina Moore plus James Barone on drums — treading mostly familiar sonic territory, but that’s why we loved them in the first place. Their knack for crafting the sugary and sweet is laced with enough genuine reverence for their influences that their sound doesn’t feel like a shtick, and Ms. Moore’s delivery is as seductive as ever. Tapping the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney to produce the disc seems to have beefed up a few songs as well. “Petition” is as muscular as Tennis has ever sounded and “My Better Self” feels like the trio doesn’t have a problem ceding a few creative decisions to an outside influence. In sum, Young & Old isn’t a breakthrough, genre-bending second trip out of the gate, but it does ensure Tennis a real future independent of what the internet thinks of them — and more importantly, it makes me want more. Tennis make their only Florida appearance on March 11 at The Orange You Glad Music Festival in Orlando.
Julie - Islands, A Sleep & A Forgetting (2012) CL music writer Evan Tokarz — a colleague and friend whom I cherish and whose brain melds with mine on many a book and band — reviewed Islands’ A Sleep & A Forgetting. I’m sad to say that we disagreed completely about this album. Evan thought it was lackluster. I think it's lustrous, with subtly insinuating arrangements, lovely piano and guitar — plus often lacking in indie rock — sing-along vocals and lyrics. There's an uncanny, comforting tenderness about it. Tokarz compared the album ti the band’s previous material, its 2009 release, Vapours in particular, which happens to be a more eclectic and upbeat outing. I myself have enjoyed past Islands but always found the tunes a little disposable. They never wooed me and stayed with me like A Sleep has. We can make out a face on Islands' Nick Thorburn here. Sure, it's downcast, but it's approachable. He's more human now, less indie-android amalgam. He and his Islands, essentially a one-man-band with a revolving door of players, began working the opus of heartbreak on Valentine’s Day 2011 and released it this past Feb. 14. Musically and thematically, it’s coherent and does not lack in dynamics, with a lovely arc you usually find in old '70s albums. “Never Go Solo” is one of the catchiest with a toe-tapping piano intro. "Can't Feel My Face" has some of the punch of previous Island outings but even better. The touching “Oh Maria” pays tribute to Buddy Holly’s widow Maria Elena Holly. It will be interesting to hear Thorburn's 2013 follow-up. Thorburn Gets His Groove Back? Check out the video for "This Is Not a Song" below.
Infinite Skillz - Erick Sermon, Breath of Fresh Air Mixtape (2012) The green-eyed bandit is back at it! This mixtape is an excellent reminder for those that grew up on EPMD about just how talented the producer/rapper really is. For those that don't know, songs like "Clout:" featuring KRS-One and "Look" with Redman and Method Man serve as a great introduction to what people are talking about when they discuss golden era hip hop. But this is NOT a history lesson. This is bumping in my truck right now.
Gabe - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Murder Ballads (1996) Certainly not the cheeriest way to get up and running on a Monday morning but Nick Cave and his fine backing band are giving me a much-needed shove today. Just another brilliant album from the band's catalog that also features spectacular guest appearances from PJ Harvey, Kylie Minogue and Shane Macgowan. Tales of death and murder fill the album in a manner that's as grim and gruesome as it is darkly humorous.
Taylor - Eisley, Deep Space EP (2012) Eisley is one of my favorite groups. They draw on a vast array of influences (from precious, boppy acoustics to grungy rock), but are able to dance any genre around their distinctive, angelic vocals. To me, "192 Days" and other cute songs (think "Trolleywood") feel more like them, but I recognize that any group goes through style changes, and I'd enjoy pretty much any jam that Eisley dishes out. Click here to get direct-from-the-source insight into each of the EP's five songs.
Shae - Heartless Bastards, All This Time (2006) It's nothing ground-breaking, just solid, catchy, amped-up blues rock à la the Black Keys. Erika Wennerstrom's vocals are wheaty and chewy, like a good artisan bread, and her guitar playing is rhythmic and driving, with lots of distortion. Because some of the songs on this album are so sonically similar to each other, it can sound like listening to a single song on repeat, but since I'm the kind of person who can listen to one really great song for a month straight, this aspect of the album doesn't bother me, though it can be difficult when I want to pull up a particular track. Until the choruses kick in, I often confuse "Searching for the Ghost" with the title track — both my favorite songs on the album.
Leilani - Breton, Blanket Rule EP (2012, FatCat Records); White Rabbits, Milk Famous (Out March 6 via TBD Records) I've been re-playing the five-song Blanket Rule EP for the past few weeks, and it's short but sweet British experi-electro dance rock with snotty cool attitude. I can't wait to see what this up-and-coming outfit has in store. The new White Rabbits sounds nothing like the old White Rabbits. As a good friend put it, it's like they ate drugs and listened to Radiohead. The sextet definitely scaled back their big percussion-and-keys grandiosity in favor of a stripped-down moodiness, taking a bigger sonic cue from Spoon (their last album was produced by produced by Britt Daniel after all), and bringing on the subtle grooves ... I like it, and might soon love it. We'll give it a few more spins and see...
Listen to the Breton Blanket Rule EP below. If you like it Click here to download your own free copy.
What the CL Music Team is listening to on this fine Monday to rocket launch the work week. Click here to check out previous entries.
Scott - Howler, America Give Up (Rough Trade, 2012) This young Minneapolis fuzz-rock outfit brings together influences as diverse as Guided by Voices, The Jesus & Mary Chain and Titus Andronicus to careen between depthy shoegaze and brash, catchy punk 'n' roll with irrepressible energy and hooks. Good new stuff.
Valerie - Foxy Shazam, The Church of Rock and Roll (2012) I've heard this band is a bit eccentric to say the least, but never actually took a listen. That is, until last summer when they toured with Panic! At The Disco and had the chance to catch their live show. They took the stage clad in embellished coats and sequined outfits, accompanied by frontman Eric Nally's signature 'stache. The amount of energy this band exuded was unparalleled. Nally was on the floor one second and on the shoulders of guitarist Loren Turner the next. The spectacle definitely got the attention it desired as they promoted this month's release, The Church of Rock and Roll, which is marked by anthemic Queen-influenced rock numbers, humorously clever lyrics, thick guitar riffs and plenty of rockin' and rollin'. Video for "I Like It" and more picks after the jump.
Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...