Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, led by musical chameleon Alex Ebert, aren’t what I would necessarily call ‘unknown’. They have built up a pretty big following over the last couple of years, and their music has featured on films, TV shows and advertisements. They have toured with acts as big as Mumford and Sons and have three of their own albums to their name. In America I dare say they are huge, but seeing as I’m writing from little old England, and anyone who I know doesn’t seem to know the band, I thought I would ‘spread the gospel’.
The band hails from LA, and has a line-up which often features ten or more musicians. If you are a fan of rootsy Americana with a hippy vibe then you have come to the right place. This is music to be listened to in the full flow of a hot summers day, with it’s upbeat, joyful vocals and music.
Up From Below (2009)
Key Track: Home
The bands debut gets off to a rollicking good start with a trio of upbeat, toe tapping, hand-clapping singalongs, full of ‘positive vibes’ man. There are also some more ‘desert hewn’ moments like the stand out track “Home” and some songs that don’t hold up as well near the end of the album, but generally it is a great debut album. When they are good, Edward Sharpe are really, really good, and instantly uplifting.
Key Track: Man on Fire
The bands second album is much the same as the first, more upbeat folksy hoe-downs perfect for summer days and raising your spirits. Songs such as “Man on Fire”, “That’s What’s Up” and “I Don’t Want To Pray” will stick in your head for days, and there are gentle, almost trance inducing numbers like “Mayla” which are equally effective, in their own way. Again, like the first album, there is the odd song that doesn’t work, and the whole hippy shtick may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s another fine effort.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (2013)
Key Track: Let’s Get High
Edward Sharpe’s most recent effort is a slight departure from the previous two albums, but not entirely. It still has toe-tapping roots music like the Woodstock-era protest pastiche “Let’s Get High” but some of the songs have a much more raw production to them. This may be there most ambitious album to date, but hasn’t grown on me as much as the others quite yet.
Key Track: Remember Our Hearts
The solo album by Magnetic Zeros frontman and leader Alex Ebert. He played all the instruments himself, and produced the album too. And it’s really quite good! Like his band, it is full of happy, sing-a-long, strum-a-long tunes, sounding like folky Dylan one minute, to Reggae the next. Ebert has since gone on to do the soundtrack for the Robert Redford starring All is Lost.