Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeroes - Up From Below
The debut release from Los Angeles based Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Up From Below, was a sure fire top 10 of ‘09 pick for any hardcore hippie-loving indie fan. For the virgin listener, this album poses an assorted collection of sounds, never defining which turn they’ll take next, but rousing a sense of enchantment and unquestionable confidence that it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Starting off with a bang, the album’s opener, “40 Day Dream” evokes memories of Arcade Fire’s dynamic debut album Funeral, complete with clapping, steady rhythms, strings and compelling lyrics, “She’s got jumper cable lips, she got sunset on her breath now, I inhaled just a little bit, now I got no fear of death now.” Slightly seasoned with the flavor of the 1960’s and backed by a group of roughly 12 musicians, it’s an engulfing kick start that inspires curiosity of what’s to follow.
Ala the immortal style of Polyphonic Spree, “Janglin” opens with a childlike chorus of “mms” and “pops” that eventually intertwine with the song’s refrain, yet somehow each vocal maintains their own anomalous quality of sound. A playful beat only adds to the enjoy ability of the song while balancing heavy piano chords and strong horn interludes. “Janglin” takes a room that’s stacked full of vocals and instruments and spits out a sound that’s perfectly clear; each element standing on it’s own to build an absolutely encompassing sensation.
The fifth track, “Home,” is undeniably the album’s Ace of Spades. An old-timey folk jam that connects co-ed vocals, horns, acoustic guitars, slap-happy beats, whistles, hoots & hollers and drippingly sweet lyrics (‘Home is where I’m with you'), “Home” carries a sense of happiness and simplicity that can’t be matched.
It’s tempting to peg this album as falling into indie-folk or alt-country, but let’s not forget the album’s esoteric magic carpet ride, “Desert Song” or “Black Water” in which Ebert’s haunting vocals at times seem to channel the late, great Elvis Presley, or even the Spanish sung “Kisses Over Babylon” and the album closer, “Om Nashi Me,” a Sanskrit chant song. With so many twists and turns, it’s impossible to nail the endless depth of this album to any particular pseudo-genre.
Consistently throughout the progression of Up From Below, each track sustains an air of magic and mystery, and maintains a dizzying sense of wonder, even at it’s darkest moments. With each song acting as a chapter of it’s own, Up From Below is less of a collection of songs, but more of an adventurous storybook that keeps you turning the page, eager to discover where it will take you next.
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