Beginning with an open letter to an unborn child (“Stars and Specks”), the latest EP from singer-songwriter Zapruder Point (Cincinnati’s Dan Phillips) covers the more harrowing aspects of parenthood in short order, as the second track (“The Sprint”) sees a father driving his son to college while remembering a fateful event from years before. A pair of more traditional relationship songs follow: “Big Sister (I Never Had)” describes a bond, now faded, that fueled a love of music, and “The Shape of Ohio” briefly illuminates the doubts and certainties embedded in love itself. The EP then ends on a cautionary note, with the characters of “Coyotes / Captains” unable to resist their predatory roles. Pitched somewhere between Ryan Adams and Waxahatchee, Stars + Specks is an intimate listen, captured (mostly) live with just vocals and acoustic guitar. In it, Zapruder Point offers up songs of unsentimental nostalgia, expectation and loss, and the comforts and inevitable contusions of living in the world.
Over the years Dan has shared bills with Bill Fox, Jason Molina, Bowerbirds, Shelley Short, The Rutabega, Anders Parker, Franklin Bruno, Canasta, Scrawl, Whitehorse, Coed Pageant, Flat Duo Jets, Terrible Parade, Earwig, Benjamin Francis Leftwich…and others (just ask him).
As an R.E.M. obsessive growing up in Cleveland, Dan played with his twin brother Scott and childhood friend Greg Eyman in Rotary Ten. In the mid-90’s they moved to Raleigh and became The Boy Wonder Jinx. In 1998, cheating on his primary band with a four-track machine led to Zapruder Point’s hushed debut The Limitations of the Source Tape, followed by a move to Chicago and the sprawling lo-fi masterpiece Low Resolution in 2001 (described by Sound Opinions’ Jim DeRogatis as “much too good to remain overlooked and under-heralded”). In the early noughties, after playing bass for short-lived Feelies cover band The Boys with the Perpetual Nervousness, Dan snagged husband and wife Tom Millard (drums and vocals) and Casey Riordan-Millard (violin) for sporadic midwest touring and a pair of well-received recordings (Spirit of 91 and It’s Always the Quiet Ones.)
After the trio’s dissolution and during a brief bout of unemployment in 2008, Dan recorded his first Garageband solo album Soda & Sympathy. He then formed an electric version of Zapruder Point with Steve Frisbie (guitar and vocals), John Aselin (bass) and Larry Brown (drums). A successful crowd funding campaign led to 2012’s Zapruder Point Record Club, wherein subscribers were mailed a 7” of new songs every three months (since collected in 2013’s Clicks and Whistles). Going back to acoustic guitar in 2015 and moving to Cincinnati the following year, Dan currently finds himself in the process of forming a new band while playing the occasional solo show.
Though technically on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, he encourages you to join his email list, as he gets a bang out of writing goofy monthly newsletters. To find out if you like his music, cruise around his Bandcamp page. And of course you can really get a load of this guy on YouTube.