Category Archives: edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros

UP FROM BELOW by edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 4.1            Rolling Stone: 3/5            Metacritic: 66            Spin: N/A


Released: July 2009
  1. 40 Day Dream
  2. Janglin’
  3. Up from Below
  4. Carries On
  5. Jade
  6. Home [LISTEN]

  7. Desert Song
  8. Black Water
  9. Come in Please
  10. Simplest Love
  11. Kisses over Babylon
  12. Brother
  13. Om Nashi Me

   It’s been less than a week since I’ve known of the band Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and I almost forgot how I stumbled upon them in the first place. It’s not that I’ve floored my way through their debut album, Up from Below, so many times that I feel as though I’ve been a fan for a year. I feel that way because of the music. That’s a little vague, but it’s hard to describe human connection to music and what it can sometimes do to you. Despite the pretty epic introduction so far, the one and so far only album from this unique, little big band isn’t a complete home run, but it does offer a memorable listening experience for those who enjoy folk, pop, or rock of the classic or indie persuasion.

   Part of the initial attraction stems from the ensemble cast that comprises the band. The group is fronted by Alex Ebert and, not, in fact, Edward Sharpe, the messianic figure Ebert thought up who “was sent down to Earth to kinda heal and save mankind…but he kept getting distracted by girls and falling in love.” Further attraction comes by way of sometimes second singer Jade Castrinos, whose now and then back-and-forth with Ebert does much to a song’s appeal, the romance between the two almost audible at times (and if not audible, certainly visual when you see them play live). She boasts a great voice, slightly deep for a girl, and she’s beautiful and has good style and smiles a lot. I may be developing a crush.

   The song that first drew me in and won me over was opener “40 Day Dream” (live video below), starting in with a simple clap-your-hands beat and old-timey strings, Ebert’s voice entering like a quirkier, pitchier Win Butler: “I’ve been sleeping for forty days and/ yeah I know I’m sleeping cause this dream’s too amazing.” He pauses and accents sporadically while still remaining melodic, carrying into the piano-pounding chorus: “Ah, it’s the magical mystery kind/ Ah, must be a lie/ Bye bye, to the too good to be true kind of love/ Ooohh, I could die/ Ohh now, I could die.” Admittedly, I give extra points to artists that incorporate “magical mystery” into any song. Before a closing chorus finale, Ebert and the rest of the gang join together for some harmonized “oohhs” and “aahhs”, and judging by the looks of them on the album cover, they look to be just the kind of people I’d like to hear group singing from.

   They’re apparently also proficient group whistlers, as demonstrated by another obvious hit: track #6’s “Home”. It’s a folky, Western-themed tune that combines an impressive whistle with catchy guitar licks, tambourine, post-chorus trumpet solos, and a rousing “Hey!” after every four measures. Castrinos starts: “Alabama, Arkansas/ I do love my ma and pa/ Not the way that I do love you.” Ebert continues, “Holy moley, me oh my/ You’re the apple of my eye/ Girl I’ve never loved one like you.” The back-and-forth dynamic comes to an album high when, just prior to the final chorus, the couple talk their way through a friendly exchange using their real names. Him: “Jade.” Her: “Alexander.” Him: “Do you remember that day you fell outta my window?” Her: “I sure do. You came jumping out after me.” Him: “Well, you fell on the concrete, nearly broke your ass. You were bleeding all over the place and I rushed you out to the hospital, you remember that?” Her: “Yes I do.” Him: “Well there’s something I never told you about that night.” Her: “What didn’t you tell me?” Him: “While you were sitting in the backseat smoking a cigarette you thought was gonna be your last, I was falling deep, deeply in love with you, and I never told you til just now.”

   Focusing on just one more, closer “Om Nashi Me” is another gem. At over six minutes, it begins with a few catchy, playful piano chords, growing mercilessly with the addition of nearly every instrument at their disposal, reaching epic status a little over halfway through, just as the trumpet kicks in. Not lyric-heavy, it’s a slightly hypnotic song, the only lines sung over and over a combination of “Om nashi me,” “I love you,” “And I love you forever,” and “And I’m loving you now.”

   Really, Edward Sharpe is just another of many indie bands out there going for the large, ensemble, try-anything sound, just looking to have fun in the process. Some of these bands work better than others, but the draw to this one came more immediately than I’m used to. It’s a versatile album, Ebert’s vocals sometimes going to quick, excited high bursts, and other times to low, drawn-out, Grizzly Bear-ish serenades. They don’t seem to possess any annoying instruments, members, or self-important lyrics either. Without taking themselves too seriously, they remain passionate about their music. If you sound good doing it, what else is there?

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