Joy Zipper


First off, you filthy-minded freaks, Joy Zipper is a real lady, not some fetishistic device you'll find in the small ads of one of your skin mags. Secondly, while she's not actually in the band, she is on the album cover holding daughter Tabitha-cute, huh? And she doesn't mind one bit lending her handsome and memorable moniker to this high-charm duo of "real life lovers", who have vision in all senses of the word. Sharing that vision is a bewitching and dreamlike way to spend 40 minutes and 55 seconds (which handily enough is how long their self-titled debute LP lasts).

The Joy Zipper story plays like one of those made-for-T.V. movies that you get sucked into at three o'clock in the morning. Starring Vinny Cafiso and Tabitha Tindale as the protagonists from Long Island (which they pronounce as "Longuyland"). Vinny has been in bands since he was twelve; in fact, Charlie (who plays drums on four of the songs on "Joy Zipper") was in a band with Vinny when he was twelve, playing "Come Together" and all the other Beatles-esque material that still informs J.Z. music. Vinny and Tabitha meet at a "battle of the bands," in which Vinny is playing guitar with his My Bloody Valentine-derivative group. Long story short, Tabitha starts managing them, he writes and sings her a couple love songs, and she's all "Let my boyfriend sing! He's the best!" and it's not long before the band breaks up.

Tabitha's presence coincided with Vinny's emergence from his previously inert, chrysalis-like state. Still, all that solo time hanging out like Joe Perry, gazing at his shoes now serves him well (especially when pitched against Tab's peaches n' cream, Marcia Brady all-American good looks). After asking Tabitha to record a few tracks with him for the album he hatched in his seclusion chamber; they were offered a U.K. record deal, six months later. Soon after, they became the toast of Britain, with their album dubbed as "an unexpected contender for album of the year" (Times Metro). And being described as "like Kim and Thurston from Sonic Youth, reciting the sounds to each other as pet sounds. Once this worms its way into your mind it ain't going anywhere" (iD). They spent time overseas pimping themselves to radio and press; in addition to promoting their songs at venues such as the Garage, the Heavenly Social, Embassy Ballroom, Barfly and the Water Rats. Tucked snuggly under their belt, they have done shows with Quasi, Skylab, Andrew Weatherall, and Geneva. Tjinder of Cornershop even deejay one of their shows.

When you listen to the wonky and warm harmonies found throughout Joy Zipper, you might be reminded of the first stirrings of a good trip (that slight, buzzy bump of well being and of everything just beginning to detach). And then you learn and understand that LSD was the key to much of Vinny's writing, on this five-years-in-the-gestating, two-years-in-the-making home project. "My father died when I was five, and I accepted it," says Vinny. "But acid freed my mind during a very depressed period of my life, and now it's great to be rid of it and pass it on to other people. The music isn't as morbid as some of the words. I've constructed a false reality around the subject. It's a lot like Long Island itself, with its beautiful lawns; when there is a lot going on unseen." Hence the reason why this cartharsis doesn't seem much like a burden at all.

This homemade inventive, "sun-drenched, shimmery classic", believe it or not, was produced and mixed all in Vinny's Aunts house. "Transformation Fantasy" stretches like an old cassette left on the dashboard in the sun, before zinging sharply into focus. Vinny and Tabitha's voices merge and meld seamlessly into near androgyny, creating "one of the sweetest, strangest records of the year" (NME). It's a lovely thing. You'll like it.