July 4, 2007

Today's Hotness: Zookeeper, Film School, Slumberland Records

Zookeeper>> Longtime readers may recall this post from November expressing surprise at encountering YouTube footage of excellent second-wave emo juggernaut Mineral. The band's 1996 release The Power Of Failing received much play in our old silver Volvo in our final year of undergraduate study. We were equally surprised to get an email reporting that former Mineral (and Gloria Record) fronter Chris Simpson has returned to the world of music after a bit of a hiatus with a new and surprisingly rootsier project called Zookeeper. We've got links to two MP3s below, but make certain you to hit this album stream and listen to the track "Delivery Room," which is our favorite cut on the album. Simspon's ear for a big melodies clearly weathered the hiatus well, and we have to say that the one thing about Mineral's recordings that didn't work for us was all the treble: Zookeeper's broader instrumentation softens the over-all assault. It is a bit jarring to hear Simpson's voice paired with shuffling acoustic guitars and juke-joint organ, but the music is fantastic. Zookeeper's self-titled EP was released last year; a full-length platter Becoming All Things is expected to be released this fall. In a MySpace post last year Simpson stated that he had written and recorded about 40 tracks, so we can likely expect a lot more to come. For those of you itching for some of that old Mineral video footage, here is the band doing the awesome cut "Parking Lot," and Crank! has Mineral music posted here.

Zookeeper -- "I Live In The Mess You Are" -- Zookeeper EP
Zookeeper -- "Tax Collector" -- Zookeeper EP
[right click and save as / buy the Zookeeper EP here]

>> We just got wind of the news that San Francisco-based nu-gaze quintet Film School, which made a big splash a year or two back for being on of the first bands to have the theft of their gear widely written about in the blogosphere (that was weird), have completed a new record. The set is titled Hideout and it is to be released on Beggars Banquet Sept. 11. Hideout was mixed by Phil Ek, who you may recall worked on all the good Built To Spill records. Film School recently added a different rhythm section and a new guitarist, and it will be interesting to hear whether that makes much of a difference. Film School's eponymous full-length debut was released by Beggars last year; it has several standout tracks including "Breet" and "Garrison" that we enjoy listening to with our ears.

>> Speaking of excellent dreampop type stuff, digital music service Rhapsody recently added some of our favorite recordings to its catalog by licensing a bunch of Slumberland Records releases. Chief among these are Rocketship's flawless and crucial 1996 set A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness, which we can and have listened to on repeat for heroic lengths of time. It's that good. Another one of our favorites is Lorelei's stirring Asleep EP and Black Tambourine's discography. All of the Rocketship record is classic, and make a point to listen to "The Sky Is Falling" from the Asleep EP. And don't forget that Slumberland offers a generous amount of MP3s through its recently revamped web site. Below are a few of our all-time favorites. We remember the chills we got when we heard this first one, in Brookhouser's van. And we clearly remember hearing the second one on WPRB on the way to a gig at Princeton's Terrace Club, and thinking it was so good we may as well just stop making music. And eventually, about 10 years later, we did.

Velocity Girl -- "My Forgotten Favorite" -- DRYL 10 7" (out of print)
Lilys -- "Claire Hates Me" -- In The Presence Of Nothing (out of print, stop at nothing to acquire)
Boyracer -- "The Useless Romantic" -- More Songs About Frustration And Self Hate (out of print)
[right click and save as]

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