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Looking for something new, nice? Give Tennis a spin

Pop Life

ALBUM REVIEW | Tennis, Cape Dory (Fat Possum)

You're going to be hearing a lot about hot new band Tennis, so you might as well get the good news from me first. Here's the lowdown to make you look smart at your next hipstah party:

Husband-wife team Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore bought a sailboat and spent eight months cruising the Atlantic coastline. When they returned to their hometown of Denver, the tandem turned tales from their sojourn into a lush, Phil Spector-infused indie-pop travelogue mixing mundane wave-rolling with wanderlustful adventure.

After messing around with an EP — with no idea if anyone would be interested (psst: we were) — Riley and Moore finally released a full record, the lovely, lulling Cape Dory, with first single Marathon ("We didn't realize that we had arrived at high tide / High tide / Barely made it out alive") featured on iTunes as a recent free download.

That exposure only elevated their buzz, and with good reason: Between the chiming Wall of Sound guitars, a surfy beat anchored to the early '60s (South Carolina is a killer song) and Moore's sweet, sweeping narration (she's a reassuring crewmate, that's for sure), Tennis is unlike anything you've heard.

Oh, I guess you could say Tennis is kind of like Mazzy Star without the agoraphobia. Or maybe the Raveonettes sans switchblades. (Those aren't bad lines for your hipstah party, by the way.) But Riley and Moore are utterly refreshing, like a spray of seawater on a sunburned face. Happy sailing.

GRADE: A

Readying 'Rocket' for kids

If you cornered me at a party and asked me for my favorite song of all time, I'd probably finish chewing my 13th consecutive bacon-wrapped scallop and proceed to unload a long-winded, critic-y answer about how it all depends on shifting moods and the ephemeral nature of musical desire. However, if I weren't being a stiff, I'd just say "Rocket Man, Elton John" and continue devouring porky mollusks.

Sure, sometimes Guns N' Roses' Welcome to the Jungle makes a most glorious racket and scratches a primal itch. But every time I hear Rocket Man — and it's right around that devastating line "I miss the Earth so much / I miss my wife" — I think: "This is my favorite song of all time."

Written in 1972 (lyrics by Bernie Taupin, music by EJ — natch) and inspired by a short story by Ray Bradbury, Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time) is an incredibly lonely song, perhaps the cleanest, prettiest chronicle of alienation in the pop canon. I was just a toddler when it first hit, but my parents told me I loved it even then. I think I was picking up on the song's isolated vibe, although the fact that rockets make cool whooshing noises might have had something to do with it, too.

Anyway, it pleases me to no end that Rocket Man is about to get new life. Along with other Elton classics and fresh tracks, it's featured in new Disney animated flick Gnomeo & Juliet, about star-cross'd garden statues. Tiny Dancer and Don't Go Breaking My Heart are in there, too, as is a newfangled Crocodile Rock duet with Nelly Furtado. (Er, not so good, that one.) But the idea of my kids learning about Elton John and the zero-gravity grace of Rocket Man gives me great hope for the future — and the chance to make whooshing noises with my daughters.

The Gnomeo & Juliet soundtrack arrives in stores on Feb. 8; the movie hits theaters three days later on Feb. 11.

A DALY DOSE random musings on pop culture

Last week I showed you guys the Kid Lulu List, an iPod mix I made for my nervous but brilliant 7-year-old daughter. Songs ranged from Sam Cooke's Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha to John Lennon's Power to the People. (See the list at tampabay.com/blogs/poplife.) Alas, Christina Aguilera's What a Girl Wants and Michael Jackson's P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) were also on there, and well, that was too much for some parents. One concerned mom wrote in: "I can't believe that you couldn't come up with 15 songs appropriate for a child that age that didn't allude to having sex. I mean, I was ready to see 'Like a Vergin' (sic) at the end of the list the way it was going." I believe both Aguilera and MJ to be totally benign choices. But hey, I dig the debate and the passion from readers.

Oh, in related news, Lulu's first-grade teacher has asked me to craft a playlist to play for her entire class. I gladly accepted the challenge. Stay tuned . . .

Looking for something new, nice? Give Tennis a spin 01/22/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 22, 2011 3:31am]
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