up! from below!

Ok, you all know by now, I hope, that I live with my musical head stuck in the sand, and I’ve totally lost any grasp I used to have on what “mainstream” means, and I feel that I must use this disclaimer in front of or behind every post I ever make, but I’m really insecure about how Eric finds all the cool new bands and I find all the bands that have been around for years and get way post-excited about them.

I did ask him last night, Eric, are Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros too hipster for us to cover? What do you think? And he asked, Do you think they’d have a drink with me? and I’m not Alex or Jade or any of their company so I don’t know for sure, but I would imagine they’d have a drink with us (by the way, I’ll be in Richmond in a couple weeks if you DO want to get a drink) and even really like us. So, that’s how we’re gauging whether music is too hipster to cover. If you’d have a drink with us, we’re good.

That being said, I ask Reid Kerley for his forgiveness and Eric for his patience and here is my new obsession: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Yes, friends, as of July 7th, the album Up From Below has been around and available for exactly one year, and yes, I am just now listening (and obsessing).

This wild ensemble, led by Alex Ebert, has pieced together Up From Below in a way similar to the way I formulate a mix–the tempos, the dynamic, the feel–they all flow together in one big musical happening; however, I tend to love the tempo, dynamic, and feel of the first 6 tracks the best of all. And “Om Nashi Me.” Eh, maybe it’s not really that formulaic…but anyway, the album carries a pervasive feeling of freedom and community. With so many band members, does that surprise you? At any given point in the album, an entire chorus seems to be making some kind of noise, whether singing or banging percussive instruments or adding a layer of countermelody. Unrefined vocals have become something beautiful and captivating through Alex and Jade, and their love song “Home” is the most passionate, honest, and freeing anthem for love that I’ve ever heard. Another of my favorites, “Jade,” precedes it perfectly.

Alex’s mysterious, unrefined voice–complete with vibrato, tonation bends, and tons of character–fascinate me. I hear so many influences in both his voice and his music that I can hardly begin to piece them all together. Perhaps vocally, he is what a David Bowie-Rufus Wainwright-Freddie Mercury lovechild would be; musically, I’m reminded of classic rock along the lines of the Doobie Brothers or the Who. The mariachi feel on “Jade” channels a Beatles-esque lightness. Even the lyrics on “Come In Please” make me think of Dylan’s “Tombstone Blues,” which I do admit is a bit more of a stretch. I hope none of you are turned off by this, partly because I adore classic rock, but mostly because the likenesses are subtle and ES & the MZ’s have created an undeniably unique sound.

I am excited to see these guys in Richmond in a few weeks because I’ve heard so many wonderful things about their live shows. If their album is this great, I have no doubts about their live show. There is something liberating and wild in their music that I love, and I can’t wait to see it manifest!

P.S. If you are looking for a flute player, I’ll be in your band. kthanksedwardsharpe&themagneticzerosbye.

Here is my pathetic attempt to embed:

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros “Home” from Edward Sharpe on Vimeo.