Beat the Winter Blues with Tennis (the Band, Not the Sport)

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Photo: Mutually Detrimental

Let's face it: our glorious Indian summer, that wondrous but all too brief flick of time that allows us to mock our bundled-up East Coast counterparts, is over. The booze has stopped flowing in now-deserted Dolores Park and daylight savings has given most of us Seasonal Affective Disorder. But cheer up, winter isn't so bad as long as you have the right soundtrack to go along with it. What's been working for me is Tennis. No, not the racket game (I don't believe in sports), but the band.

Wife-and-husband-duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley found inspiration for this music project after graduating college in Colorado and buying a sailboat to explore the Eastern seaboard for seven months. After they were back on dry land (the couple now lives in Baltimore, the home of other indie darlings Beach House and Animal Collective), they channeled all the wonder and some of the difficulties of their expedition into their debut album, Cape Dory. The album is a cross between '60s girl group melodies, dream pop, and something that would start playing just as you kissed a cute stranger at a beach party.

Almost all of Tennis' short catalogue is comprised of songs about sailing, fun in the sun, and the open sea. They are so preppy, they give Zack Morris a run for his money. As initially harsh as that sounds, it's actually a really good thing in this case. When someone is coughing on you on the bus or it's pitch black at 5pm, a Tennis song can transport you to the deck of a boat in the middle of a sparkling bay with booze in your hand and a sweater tied around your neck (ok, maybe the sweater takes it a bit too far, but you know what I mean).

Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, Cape Dory's carefree tracks breeze by, leaving you smiling and wanting more of that nostalgic yearning for past sun-bleached adventures. A deeper layer of the record is that it's an audio memento of this specific couple at that specific time in their lives, their honeymoon phase. The band takes us from the planning stages of this nautical journey, Alaina insisting "Take me somewhere," to the endless possibilities once they've made it to sea ("We can play in the sun holding hands and nap through the day on sun-bathed sands /we can live on an island of old conch shells, we can listen to the sounds of the ocean swell" on "Cape Dory") to the harsh reality of returning to landbound survival ("Can we get a job, can we get a job / We need off this dock, is that asking a lot" on "Baltimore").

Despite Cape Dory being something only these two people can truly share, the album isn't exclusive by any means and invites the listener into the romance and the thrill of the high seas. On "Bimini Bay," Alaina coos, "Oh, aren't you glad you came along?" And the answer is a resounding "yes."


Shake off those winter blues and take in a blast of sunshine when Tennis' tour breezes through your town.