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Joy Zipper – American Whip
By Zane Ewton

The New York bred band Joy Zipper is one that found a record label and critical acclaim by crossing the ocean for England.  American Whip is the bands second release, has received a whole lot of love from the British press and is finally getting a release in the states.

Praise for this album was slathered on thickly.  A few of the quotable mentions, plastered on the album cover sticker, include “the kind of record Brian Wilson might once have aspired to make”, which was written in the London Evening Standard.  Timeout magazine wrote, “Imagine if the Breeders mated with Air.  You probably need this record more than you know.”

What is amazing is that nobody has questioned how a band from Long Island can record an album in the U.K. that sounds like a space-age California.  The songs are so glossy that it becomes easy to overlook the grit of the lyrics and the pain behind all the sunshine.

The band is, to be more specific, a duo that allows a few hangers-on to record with them.  Vinny Cafiso and Tabitha Tindale write the songs and also share a non-business relationship that has brought them the label of the new indie rock couple.

Of course this is all very useless information that has nothing to do with what is most important, the music.  Do these 12 songs warrant the lavish praise that has been heaped up on them?  Is Joy Zipper the next Beach Boys?

The answer is, probably not.  But the album is quite good anyway.  American Whip is an album of songs that sound very musical, they live in a place where instruments couldn’t make the right noises but the feeling is too warm to be electronic.  It is as if a singer-songwriter put down his guitar and picked up a synthesizer.

Cafiso and Tindale take turns with lead vocals.  Tindale’s voice is memorable but Cafiso sings the interesting songs.  The moments where they share the vocals feel awkward.  The lyrics are sad, emotionally not grammatically.  While there are a few songs that stand out, the rest are so pretty and smooth that they fade into the background of your mind.  Like music to go grocery shopping to.  But increased listens present the heart of this album.  

Therein lies the greatness in this album, it is much more than it appears to be.  The songs that are immediately likeable are “Baby You Should Know”, “Out of the Sun”, the short but fascinating “Drugs”, and “Valley Stream”.  The rest of the album tends to blend together.  An instant classic should be fantastic from top to bottom.  American Whip fails to meet that requirement but it is still a very fascinating listen for anybody interested in the softer, melodic side of indie pop music.  Just because it is pretty doesn’t mean there is no substance.  

CD Info 

Joy Zipper – American Whip
Label: Dangerbird
Release Date: February 22, 2005
Christmas Song
Baby You Should Know
Out Of The Sun
Dosed And Became Invisible
In The Never Ending Search For A Suitable Enemy
Valley Stream
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