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With a real feel for summery pop and garage rock, Joy Zipper could easily slip into tight leathers and come on like The Raveonettes. Just as easily though, their way with spacey atmospherics could see them mutate into a several-headed Orb. American Whip, held up for over a year due to record company complications, sees them land somewhere between the two.
Opening with the warped instrumental "Sunstroke" (as blitzed and stumbling as its name implies), it moves into the breezy, ethereal pop of "Christmas Song", then the driving, scuzzy "Baby You Should Know". It's an impressive start, and it gets better. "Out of the Sun" rides on a garage riff, with vocals flying in from different angles and distances. "Dosed and Became Invisible" is hazy and innovative, while "Alzheimers", as its title suggests, drifts almost psychedelically in fuzzy dementia. Indeed, only the meandering instrumental "VSX" fails to command attention.
Variously produced by the band, David Holmes and My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, American Whip will certainly not go careering up the charts, but it is conclusive proof that Joy Zipper are one of the finest indie outfits to spring from the East Coast in recent years. --Dominic Wills
In 2003, Ministry of Sound pulled the financial rug from under the feet of their tributary 13 Amp label, indefinitely suspending the release of Joy Zipper's American Whip. Fifteen months on, the Long Island duo's second album has finally been saved from obscurity. And about time, too.
Joy Zipper are Tabitha Tindale and Vincent Cafiso. Named after Tabitha's mum, they've been a couple for around ten years, which might explain the gooey sentimentality that occasionally graces their work. Essentially, the Joy Zipper sound hasn't deviated much from that of their eponymous debut album in 2000. Their charming melodies, heart-melting harmonies and hazy lo-fi guitars distil into an intoxicating alt-pop nectar.
But, underneath the saccharine My Bloody Valentine-style orchestration lies a darker underbelly; at times, Tindale's voice entices with the bittersweet allure of a Siren's song. On the blissful "33x", for instance, she sings 'I'm getting tired of life' with all the innocent charm of a nursery rhyme.
American Whip tells tales of infatuation, drugs, making enemies and, strangely, mental disorders (see the eerie "Alzheimer's"). It seems the duo's intriguing mix of sweet and sinister is the result of a blossoming song writing partnership. "I tend to write more of the poppier things, I think that's in my nature", Tindale reveals. "Vinny writes more of the cerebral, weird things. Combined together, that's why it works, that's why we're Joy Zipper."
It's certainly an irresistible combination. "Baby You Should Know", "Ron" and "Out Of the Sun" all feature mesmerizing choruses that'll have you grinning like a child. Out of twelve songs, however, three fall short of a minute long, making American Whip disappointingly short. Consequently, you wouldn't want to set it to repeat play; it's a bit like hot chocolate with marshmallow: nice, but a little sickly after several mugs. That said, it remains an enchanting and comforting record that should keep you warm 'til summer. --Richard Banks
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
Top Customer Reviews
This talented duo smothers any sign of a sophomore slump in "American Whip," with its lush mesh of sixties psychedelica and shoegazer pop. The resulting album is languid, expansive and dreamy, but laced with a dark edge that you won't find in any Zombies or Beach Boys album.
The delicately blurred "Sunstroke" slowly opens into a whimsical little love song: "I need you more than the rain in springtime/love you more than the open sea." It's an exceptionally sweet song, and it does lure you in. But don't expect all to be happiness and light -- despite the colorful, hazy sound, the songs can get pretty grim at times.
Examples: The swirling lo-fi pop number "Alzheimer's" is from the POV of an old woman with Alzheimer's Disease. "Why do I keep forgetting my name?/Maybe it's something I ate/What is this terrible thing coming over me?" Vincent Cafiso drones. Parent/child alienation. And odes to "Drugs" and magic mushrooms.
Despite their obvious debts to bands like Stereolab, Zombies and fuzzy psychpop, Joy Zipper doesn't sound specifically like anything but itself. The duo's hazy, mellow music just sweeps the listener off their feet, as it brings to mind visions of California sunshine, summer days, flowery fields... and lots of drugs.
Cafiso and his bandmate Tabitha Tindale share keyboard duty, weaving a thick electronic fog around Cafiso's slow-burning guitar riffs and mellow basslines. There are some guest musicians, mostly contributing violins to songs like "Dosed and Became Invisible," which has a strong string presence from beginning to end.Read more ›
If you own their eponymous debut, you don't need me to tell you that Joy Zipper are NYC based lovers Vinny Cafiso & Tabitha Tindale, or that they sound like an cross between of Sonic Youth, MBV, Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys. With production from David Holmes and Kevin Shields (amongst others) you can't go too far wrong.
This is the first truly great album of 2004 and should be the soundtrack to your summer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Almost all of their albums are great. This one is better. After a brief 2-year hiatus in which lead singer chris went on holiday, the band are back and bigger than ever. Read morePublished on 11 Jun. 2004 by Jonathan George Maxwell White
Maybe I don't smoke enough. It's not like I downloaded it - I wanted to like this, it sounded like the sort of thing I'd go for. Read morePublished on 19 May 2004 by Mr. J. M. Watson
Believe the critical aclaim this duo are getting in the press, this album is simply beautiful! These guys are the new air!Published on 30 Mar. 2004
Wow what an album, I had only ever heard one song of Joy Zipper's before and that was on a complialation mix album of XFM with david holmes and two other dj's. Read morePublished on 18 Mar. 2004 by S. Burt