Monday, February 14, 2005


So long-delayed that I wonder if anyone cares anymore, Joy Zipper's American Whip is scheduled to finally come out in the US on February 22nd, though I'll believe it when I see it.

Readers with good memories may remember that this was in my top ten for 2003, when I got the promo. Then again in 2004 when it actually came out after something like a year-long delay, though in the UK only. Not sure if I'll have it in me to put it in the 2005 top ten...we'll find out.

The problem, as I see it, is that presumably everyone in the US who was interested has already either downloaded this, paid big bucks for an import, or paid big bucks to Tabitha Tindale on eBay for one of her promo copies. So will anyone be left to care about the belated stateside release? Besides, they have a real new album coming out in a few months. UK only, supposedly. Of course.


Tabitha Tindale being the business savvy half of Joy Zipper and the owner of the kind of face that you normally see on a group of sisters from Michigan who've just committed suicide. The other half of the band is Vinny Cafiso, who's a spitting image of the good looking guy from stage crew who always smelled like cigarettes and who listened to a lot of Pink Floyd and didn't get to date cheerleaders named Tabitha.

I read reviews of Joy Zipper that go "blah blah sunny blah blah trippy blah My Bloody Valentine blah blah insubstantial" (quite a few follow that format) and my first thought is: doesn't it tip you that something is 'off' about a band whose members are named Tabitha fucking Tindale and Vinny fucking Cafiso, who look like some strangely conceived high-school couple that never was and hail from Long Island, home of the casually bizarre? Did you really listen to the full lyrics of any given song, not just the dippy cute parts? Doesn't it seem odd that the cover photo for their first album (young Tabitha and mom, so we're told) looks not like a homemade dream pop album, but rather like an advertisement for feminine hygeine products, torn from the pages of Vogue? That their new album American Whip is named guessed cream? Have you not seen the video for Out Of The Sun, where it's all too apparent that this duo is ideally suited to lead its own ultimately mass-suicidal cult. Are none of these things tip-offs to the fact that Joy Zipper is a massively strange band, smooth surface notwithstanding?

(This website, which hosts the all-too-appropriate Out Of The Sun video, seems to understand better than many how not at all normal Joy Zipper are.)

I'm not the slightest bit clear on how Tabitha's delivery of the line "our death is inevitable" (on a track from their first album called Transformation Fantasy) can just slide by. I'm not talking about the line itself. I'm talking about the way she sings it, like she's just been kissed by an extremely cute puppy. Which is how she sings everything. Or the fact that they write song after song about "heavy" topics (philosophy, disease, love, death) that say absolutely nothing remotely substantial about their subject, and with a breathtakingly un-nuanced insubstantiality, to the point where it travels all the way around the dial and back to nuanced. Case in point being a track called Alzheimers, which has lyrics by Ms. Crabtree's 6th grade class, written for their production of "Old People Get Sick Too" and sung by several members of the bible school up the lane. Fleshed out with samples of a very real Alzheimers patient, played not exactly for yucks or for serious effect. God knows what the point is, but it's creepy as hell. You can easily imagine the Joy Zippers stumbling across a pretty flower, or a dead body, and writing a gently trippy little song about either, beaming all the while with those fresh-scrubbed faces.

Joy Zipper once endorsed a description of themselves as being like a candy apple with a razorblade in the center, but they've always struck me as being more like a candy apple with a razorblade in the center, said apple bearing a giant sign that says "There is a razorblade inside this apple, oh and about the Kool Aid..."

You notice it more when you listen to the full albums. It's a matter of accumulated creepiness.

From American Whip, here's Alzheimers.

Here's Moon Moon Moon, from a single.

From their debut self-titled album, here's The Power Of Alan Watts. Double time on the chorus! And what did we learn about Alan Watts? Um, he's dead and he seems to have written some books.

But seriously, watch the video first. I think it puts everything else in a clearer light.

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