Tuesday, April 13, 2004


Without much fanfare, at least around these parts, Joy Zipper's long-delayed album American Whip has finally come out. Well, in England anyway. I've looked all over, including on their website's discussion board, and I still can't figure out what the US release date is, other than the fact that Tabitha said, "soon." In case you haven't been following the Joy Zipper story, their second album American Whip was supposed to come out last year. Advertisements were run. Promotional copies went out. Reviewers reviewed it. But, after all that, their record label ran into some temporary money problems which took a while to resolve. Anyway, the wait is over. As far as I can tell, the only difference between this release and the promos that circulated last year is the absence of some dialogue from one song (they had to remove some slightly disturbing tapes of an Alzheimers patient).

Today makes, I think, the third time I've talked about Joy Zipper here. I still haven't managed to pin down the reason why I find them so fascinating (the above photo of Tabitha eating spaghetti notwithstanding). Musically they're not revolutionary: I remain convinced that their sound can be boiled down to a mix of American indie pop ( e.g. Apples In Stereo, Dressy Bessy) and My Bloody Valentine, but the details of their songs are odd and the trajectory of their career thus far is anything but normal. For one thing, I can't figure out why they've clicked so much better in England than in America (they're originally from Long Island). And, even though I'm sure it boils down to "someone knew someone" their hooking up with Kevin Shields struck me as unexpected. Their lyrics touch on a number of standard indie themes (drugs, I wuv you, etc.) but never in the way I'd expect (as an example, they have a song about Alan Watts that doesn't actually say much of anything about Alan Watts other than a few vague generalities: he's dead and he wrote a lot of books.). There's something slippery and effortless about them that's just...odd. I don't know exactly how to put this, but something about Joy Zipper's image and their sound and the way they look (Marsha Brady dating that nice boy from the neighborhood) and their lyrics and even their band name (supposedly Tabitha's mom's name) just doesn't add up for me. I don't know, maybe it's my paranoia coming out, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there's a lot more to them than what's contained in their official bio (which seems to get repeated just about verbatim in every review of Joy Zipper that I've seen).

Don't get the impression that my inability to explain exactly why I find them weird means that I don't like them. I pulled out American Whip last week after a break of several months, and if anything it sounds even better to me now.

Here's a quick Joy Zipper primer. From their first, self titled album this is The Power of Alan Watts, where songwriter Vinnie Carfiso (a name that seems too real to be real) and his girlfriend Tabitha Tindale (a name that seems too fake to be fake) manage to avoid the difficulty of writing a chorus by speeding up the verse's melody to doubletime here and there.

From a recent EP The Stereo and God, recorded with Kramer while waiting for American Whip to come out, here's Gun Control.

And finally, from American Whip, here's my current favorite song Out Of the Sun. There's a tantalizing snippet of the video for this on the band's slightly annoying website, featuring the loving couple looking disturbingly perfect as 1970s-style television evangelists.

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