Mark Zempel

Beer Run

Not many artists can pull off the role of singer/songwriter/musician/producer and actualize an album others want to hear. Yet Chico musician Mark Zempel’s solo album, Beer Run, showcases his skillful manipulation of the pop song, introduced by the Beatles and swirled through a kaleidoscope of wit, good times and Newcastle beer. “Catamine” rolls like an undertow, pulling a layer of music back under itself in a multi-tempoed, XTC kind of way. “SPH” (Smiles Per Hour) is an early bridge to the rest of the album, a glimpse at the aural euphoria to come, full of phase-shifting nostalgia and spinning-around-until-you-fall-over-in-a-dizzy-heap-on-a-beautiful-spring-day good feelings. Other favorites still in my head are the danceable “Monkee,” with tight energy that flings around like Brian Eno’s “King’s Lead Hat,” and the ethereal “Blue Room,” with instrumentation that beautifully evokes the exact feeling the lyrics describe.Beer Run is available at Fulcrum Records on Main Street in Chico or through