Zookeeper is the moniker that Chris Simpson, emo-wonderkid
and former frontman for Mineral and The Gloria Record,
has chosen for his newest project. The name is quite an accurate representation
of the concept with which Simpson has approached this new musical
endeavor. The songs are written - mostly - by Simpson, then taken
into the studio for further adjusting and arranging, at which time
whoever happens to stop by is given an instrument (not necessarily
one with which they are familiar) and asked to play along. The result
is a brisk set of tracks that ably represent what Zookeeper can do
in a live setting, although being more polished and understandable.
The inherent loudness of the live shows is somewhat tamed, but the
energy and emotions are not. The Zookeeper EP is a fantastic
first look at the greatness that the Simpson-led loose collective
can turn out.
"I Live In The Mess You Are" is a bouncing, almost-country
ditty that immediately recalls Josh Ritter's more playful moments.
On this opening track, Simpson is joined by former Gloria Record alumni
Brian Hubbard and Ben Houtman, as well as Zookeeper
stalwart Seth Woods. "Tax Collector" takes the energy
to a more recognizable level, highlighting Simpson's remarkable ability
to weave words into a brooding maelstrom of pop goodness. Michael
Booher, of Austin's mighty Zykos, joins in for a guest
vocal appearance. "Flood Of Love" is a dreamy near-ambient
track that hints at what The Gloria Record might have continued to
become, and features ex-TGR bassist Jeremy Gomez on upright
bass. It is a slightly meandering track filled with lush arrangements
and full orchestration - consisting of such oddities as ocean alarm
clock and space turtle.
"Two-Part Invention" is the conundrum on the release. The
track sounds like a demo tape put on the record for whatever reason
seemed to fit at the time. And while the song is amazing, it continues
in its low-fidelity droning for far too long. The impact that the
song might have had - either in better fidelity or in shortening the
length - is somewhat lost. All of this is easily overlooked in the
reality of Simpson's glorious lyricism and the stark beauty of this
otherwise weird track. "Delivery Room" ends the EP with
a strangely indie Beach Boys' flair. Brilliant production and
jumping rhythm makes for a highly enjoyable track that features the
trademark highly personal lyrics for which Simpson has come to be
known. And Jeremy Gomez lends his hand on the drums
the kid could play like that?
The Zookeeper EP is available now directly from Belle City
Pop! Records (www.bellecitypop.com
- a fledgling record label begun by former Gloria Record drummer Brian
Malone) or by visiting the Zookeeper Myspace page at www.myspace.com/zookeepersword.
Do yourself a favor and swing by and order your copy. It just may
be the best jangling, loose pop record you hear all year.
1. I Live In The Mess You Are
2. Tax Collector
3. Flood Of Love
4. Two-Part Invention
5. Delivery Room
Check out more
e-mail the chief
Like this article?
it to a friend!