Monday, September 26, 2011

Tennis System - Live in New York

Everyone who knows me – knows how much I love new bands. Especially new bands that look to the greats that came before them as inspiration and a starting point for developing their own sound.

Such is the case with Los Angeles based band Tennis System. One day stumbling across their Twitter self-description – “If My Bloody Valentine & Sonic Youth had a baby with The Kinks it would be named Tennis System” - I knew I had to give them a listen.

I’m glad I did, as they truly do come as advertised. Though I had to chuckle a bit (and agree) with the band's bassist Guylaine Vivarat who stated “I think we need to work on the Kinks part a bit.” Indeed, there isn’t much that can be pegged Kinks-like in their *sound* (though quality lyrics certainly qualify). Without a doubt the My Bloody Valentine-like pitch bends are there – as well as the Sonic Youth-like extended thrash-down jam outs. What’s not to like?

So it was - after a few months of back and forth messaging with frontman Matty Taylor (who graciously sent me a digitial copy of their latest album "Teenagers" - which I absolutely love) - there was the opportunity to catch them live - at one of my fave NYC venues - Pianos, on Wednesday, September 21.

Give a listen here to the opening song on this night.

"Technicolour Blind"

Matty Taylor (guitar and lead vocals), Misha Bullock (drums and background vocals), Christopher Norman (lead guitar), and Guylaine Vivarat (bass) are masters of loud and dirty anthems, but rising above the noise that blankets them are Taylor's beautifully sung, dreamy lyrics inspired by both love and art.

This band is a cut above so many of the so-called “noise” bands out there, however. The songs are well constructed and Matty can actually sing. Addtionally, Misha provides quite a bit of assistance with the overall vocal sound - all the more impressive that he does this while furiously pounding away on his drum kit. Those drums, by the way are a killer set of clear, see-through beauties made by the masters at Ludwig.

Listen in to their lead single release from "Teenagers" - the heartfelt "Arcane"


Bassist Guylaine Vivarat is originally from France - but now resides in Los Angeles with the rest of the band. Post-show we had an interesting and animated chat. As the MBV and Sonic Youth influences were already established, I asked Gulaine about those bands bassists. She expressed an appreciation and admiration for Kim Gordon. Addditionally she surprised me somewhat by namechecking "classic rock" bassists like Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath) and John Entwistle (The Who) as personal faves.

Guitarist Christopher Norman's lead lines serve the dual purpose of providing melody as well as preventing the more chaotic moments from completely unravelling.

It's a ferocious sound, but one that never becomes totally unhinged.

For their final reverb-drenched song of the night, Tennis System pulled out all the stops, to deliver an appropriately loud and dirty anthem - this one aptly titled "Dead Honey"

Post-show - going for a "dirty swim" with the band.

Get your "devil horns" up!

Find out more about Tennis System here:


Mr Smork said...

nice piece, dave.
not saying you post a lot of bad but this one i enjoyed reading. was interesting to find out how you discovered them how they sound and what they think.
and those last two pictures - best pics with bands i can imagine!

DaveCromwell said...

Ah, very cool Mr. Smork.

I'm happy to hear this was an enjoyable read for you.

Its so funny about those last two photos - they just sort of fell together. I wasn't really planning it or anything - but we were all hanging out, outside of the club after the show, and before I knew it, the band was jumping up on a metal container in front of that wall.

I love how things work out like that sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the other comments, the last two photos have the LOL Factor.
Another new band to check out. Good stuff.

DaveCromwell said...

Definitely worth "checking out" VP. The melodies may at times take a back seat to the chaos (like another band we both know and love so well) - but they are most certainly always there.

And I'm glad I could provide a moment of levity for you via my "fun photos" at the end there.

Patricia said...

Great review, Dave. Nice band, and agree with last two pics..."Lo máximo"!

William said...

As a former high level tennis player and umpire myself, i enjoy the reference to tennis in this band- how their system relates i'm not sure...

What i am sure of is that i quite enjoy their music and if crom's photos have the LOL Factor, they have the X Factor but not in a lame I let Simon Cowell lick my balls twice and he gave me a record contract if I promised he could do it again three times and maybe play around with my butt hole a bit...

The review was as always less douchey than something else and good

Incidentally, fun discovery- if you press the crippled chap next to the word verification box it comes up with a rather psychedelic sounding presentation which should be sampled by someone soon

Ivanka said...

as always good piece) amazing photos)) you are very lucky to get all of this pictures with lots of musicians)) and have to say an interesting name of the band)

DaveCromwell said...

Love the ..."Lo máximo" Paty!

and nice of you to say, Ivanka. Be sure to give them a listen. I know it might be a bit "harsher" rock than you usually listen to - but as I keep repeating, there are strong melodies and vocals all around.

As for you William - it's a good thing this blog is "adult rated" as you've outdone yourself this time - what with the graphic descriptions and all.

As for your "fun discovery" - I'll have to investigate this revelry.

Ivanka said...

I'll take a look) I'm always interested in something new for me))

Anonymous said...

I've got to say the band is pretty interesting. They've got their distinctive sound, after listening to a few tracks I don't think I'll ever mistake them for any other noise pop/rock band.

They remind me a little bit of Oasis (Rock 'N' Roll Star in particular) ,maybe because of the vocals. All those Sonic Youth influences are there of course but like you wrote Dave, the band takes those techniques of making music into other territories. No copying, just influence. Also- I can absolutely hear the Geezer Butler influence in the bass parts.

And those photos with the band are top class. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

I like that you keep writing about new bands. (Otherwise I'd never have listened to Ladytron or The Raveonettes)

I had to listen to the videos 2 or 3 times, but I actually quite like the vocals (not saying the music etc is bad of course)!

Arcane is great, can't do anything but agree with you about their songs being 'well constructed'. Everything is in balance.

(Cool photo's at the end btw ;) )

DaveCromwell said...

Interesting comparison there, eagle. I agree that the more "jammy" Oasis songs share similar qualities with this band - and yeah, Matty can come off "Gallagher-esque" with some of his vocalizing.

I was more than happy to turn you on to those two bands, Anouk (Ladytron and Raveonettes). Chances are you might have discovered them on your own anyway - but it's still good to know I had an influence.

Here's hoping that Tennis System's continued output is as prolific as those two bands.