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Zookeeper EP
Belle City Pop!

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… who knew 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.

-David DeVoe

Track Listing:
1. I Live In The Mess You Are
2. Tax Collector
3. Flood Of Love
4. Two-Part Invention
5. Delivery Room

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