Initial Reactions (2012): Tennis, Dr. Dog, The Little Willies

Initial Reactions are just that: my reactions to records after only a few listens (usually 2 or 3). I try to be fair, but if a record doesn’t make much of an impression on me at that point, someone’s going to need to tell me to pay closer attention if they think it deserves better. (see the sidebar for rating descriptions)

Tennis – Young & Old – [B+]: Deuce. A slight improvement on last year’s set. At times, I detect the influence of mid-90’s Sebadoh, and there’s a little more racket to match the indie-pop sound. Producer Patrick Carney brings a post-punk advantage, but unfortunately there’s no aces. I won’t  fault them for that, though. All in all, this is love-ly, and that’s no backhanded compliment. Net.   ("Origins", "Petition", "Dreaming")

Dr. Dog – Be The Void – [B]: Good and enjoyable rock and roll with a classic vibe. It’s hard not to like Dr. Dog, but it’s equally hard to love them. I think what they lack is a sense of personality. I mean, I get it. These are laid back dudes. They’ve played Lebowski Fest. But maybe they need to add a lady to the mix? And not just any lady, a real firecracker, a Neko. After all, even The Dude found his Maude in the end. ("These Days", "Get Away", "Do The Trick")

The Little Willies – For The Good Times – [B]: The Little Willies play well enough. Unfortunately, the song choices leave something to be desired. "If You’ve Got The Money" and "Jolene" = obvious. Think instead of Hem covering "Radiation Vibe" or "So. Central Rain." That’s grade-A song choice, the kind I’d expect from cosmopolitan musicians living in The City. Good times (but almost great when Norah’s got the lead). ("I Worship You", "Tommy Rockwood", "Fist City")

Quick Review (LP): Cape Dory by Tennis

Cape Dory
Fat Possum; 2011

My Rating: B (68/100)

Best Tracks: “Bimini Bay”, “Marathon”, “Take Me Somewhere”, “South Carolina”

According to Wikipedia, Cape Dory Yachts “was a Massachusetts based fiberglass boat builder which operated from 1963 to 1996.” So it figures that the indie duo Tennis, whose debut is inspired by a seven-month sailing cruise of the Atlantic states, would choose such a name. And what we have here is hyper-pleasant, mid-tempo indie pop. Reference points? Well, there’s a definite care-free, vacation punk feel to this record, so I’d have to go with Vampire Weekend on one hand, with a bit of the languorous songswells of Beach House undergirding things. Also, there’s a big helping of the oldie-but-goodie sensibility that informs the She & Him records. It’s all well and good, but Cape Dory is a record of fleeting pleasures. There’s not a whole lot to really jump on board with, perhaps owing to the fact that this was a record inspired by an escapist life at sea. But that’s OK. It’s highly enjoyable for what it is, and Tennis is a band full of promise. Their songs really grow on you, and I can envision great things coming from them in the not-too-distant future.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4/5)
Consequence (3/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Songs (4/5)

AMG review
Pitchfork review
Sputnik Music review
Paste review
Metacritic reviews