Photography by Audrey Del Piccolo
If brevity is the soul of wit, Juan Zaballa is one clever fellow. As Tall Juan, the Argentinian rocker emulates garage rock heroes like the Ramones with sprint-to-the-finish-line songs that rarely stretch beyond two minutes. His new EP, Joya Nedo, begins with a sample from a boxing match, as the ringside bell dings three times and an announcer says, “And here we go, round one!” With that, it’s off to the races for “Nine To Fight,” which gingerly gallops forward for one minute before the drums kick into overdrive. As quickly as it comes, the screaming crowd from the boxing match fades back in and the song is over, but the fight of the album is ever present. The title itself stems from a larger sense of fighting that stretches beyond its allusions to boxing. According to Tall Juan, "Joya Nedo is an expression me and some people use from where I was born [in San Antonio de Padua] when something is ok, or cool. On this EP, I wanted to talk about transvestism, this area in Jackson Heights called Vaseline Alley, where with friends we used to go at night just to check it out. Or about getting mad by not being free to immigrate or emigrate somewhere. About fights or when people don't know what they want and they try to make you unsecure."
While Joya Nedo retains the lo-fi energy of Tall Juan’s debut LP from May, Olden Goldies, the production is a little cleaner and offers a more balanced mix. It's easy to pigeonhole Tall Juan as a Ramones worshipper, but the Far Rockaway transplant’s guitar chord progressions outmatch the Forest Hills band’s in terms of complexity, even if it’s only by a little bit. The strongest of the four tracks also happens to be the EP’s longest. Clocking in at 2:12, “Out Of Town” allows Zaballa a little more space to immerse the listener into the rockabilly song’s slacker love story. “With nothing else to do, I guess I will follow you,” Zaballa sings, embodying a head-bopping Mac Demarco.