Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips


Eyes and Flys / Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips The Covid Collaborations: Vol. IV cassette

NERVOUS TICK AND THE ZIPPER LIPS is a solo recording project of MRR cassette reviewer extraordinaire Eric “Biff” Bafaro, and this is the fourth and final volume of his COVID Collaborations series. The deal with said series is that Mr. TICK invites another musician (generally a fellow Rust Belter) to join him in providing an original song, a cover of one of the other artist’s tracks, and vocals (and maybe lyrics) for a song written by the other artist. Here the collaborator is Buffalo musician (now out of Long Beach) EYES AND FLYS. The ZIPPER LIPS original is a jaunty garage-pop/lite-hardcore number with some sci-fi new wave touches—sounds like a Red Snerts track mashed up with Another Wasted Night-era GANG GREEN. I’m into it! The EYES AND FLYS original “Drive Slow,” not unlike the KANYE WEST track of the same name, is built atop a tight little sample of an obscure-ish classic—in this case, the INTELLIGENCE’s “Garbage in Garbage Out”—and ends up being a woozy lo-fi dirge. Also cool! I’m not familiar enough with either original these covers are based on, but the end results are fine enough. The two true collaborations are probably the most interesting tracks on the release (which isn’t to say they’re the best!). “I Need Time,” a ZIPPER LIPS track with EYES AND FLYS on vocals, is a druggy downer punk number that reminds me of LIFE STINKS. It’s maybe my favorite track on here. Then there’s “I Believe in Science Fiction.” EYES AND FLYS lays down a jangly psych track—complete with a harsh raygun organ outro!—and Lou Koller…I mean NERVOUS TICK croaks on about Captain Kirk and wanting to be blasted out into space or whatever. It’s certainly something! Anyway, both the concept and execution here are fun, and I wish more artists did stuff like this.

Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips / Obsoletism The Covid Collaborations: Vol. III cassette

This tape is the third in a series of lockdown collaborations organized by NERVOUS TICK, featuring good-time garage rock group OBSOLETISM this time around. There have been a lot of pandemic-era records born out of lockdown, most bringing the dark sounds of isolation to the forefront of their sound. This tape, on the other hand, strives for a brand of punk that makes you feel upbeat. Much like the RAMONES, these tracks are anthemic. Pounding with three-chord bliss, this cassette really ends up being a great way to spend the afternoon.

Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips / Ricky Hell The Covid Collaborations: Vol. II cassette

Part two in NERVOUS TICK’s collaboration series, where the project teams up with another band to play an original song, cover the other band, and collaborate on a song. Cool idea with great execution. NERVOUS TICK has a synth-tinged garage punk sound with gruff vocals. RICKY HELL delivers romantic synth-pop gems like “She’s My Angel” that deserve a spot on a crush’s mix tape or a spin at your prom. “Roadmaster” is a perfect mix of the two, with nostalgic heart-string-yanking guitar and a mix of the two different vocal styles. This is a cool tape, as well as a document of friendship and creative collaboration. We need that. Keep your anger—gimme friendship any day. I’m not sure why I’m hearing this now since it came out in 2020, but Vol. III was just released and it looks good, too.

Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips Something’s Gotta Bleed cassette

Latest installment from the one-man freak show hosted by MRR alum and Buffalo scene stalwart Biff Bifaro. Ass-shaking garage punk, but with the kind of weirdness that’s hard to pull off when you have to get a full band to sign off (I’m talking “What a Spooky Evening” specifically) and decidedly non-melodic vocals to give the whole thing teeth. Something’s Gotta Bleed is hot, loose, all over the map, and released by a killer Turkish label. I read another zine kinda slag this one off…dummies.

Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips / Science Man The COVID Collaborations: Vol. I cassette

Cool split between Buffalo’s NERVOUS TICK AND THE ZIPPER LIPS and SCIENCE MAN where each band contributes one original song, a cover of the other band, and two collaborative tracks. The groups have a pretty different sound and energy, but this tape works and is a hopeful document that the spirit of artistic collaboration can thrive in this time of isolation. The first three tracks show off SCIENCE MAN’s no-frills/no bullshit rock’n’roll with sleazy vocals and meaty STOOGES instrumentation. “The Mask” is three minutes of slow churn proto-punk with a full-ass guitar solo. The next two from them are a little faster but still have OG hard rock vibes with a throaty menace. Tough! The three NERVOUS TICK songs are forged in jerky new wave rhythms, complete with a drum machine under the trebly guitar work. “Don’t Know Where to Go” has stiff, robotic vocals that sound like GARY NUMAN on punk. This tape is a great idea done well, and I look forward to future volumes (hopefully after COVID).