Sunday, July 8, 2012

Neither Up Nor Down, But Right Here:

Over three years ago, Alex Ebert assumed the character of "Edward Sharpe", the Jesus-looking frontman of the Magnetic Zeros. It was cool, and strange, and now the group has proven they're here to stay with their second album.
Neither Up
Nor Down,
But Right Here
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's 'Here' / Album Review
July 8
by Chris Homa
Neither Up Nor Down, But Right Here
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero's 'Here' / Album Review
Released May 29 on Vagrant
Words By Chris Homa
It starts quiet. A hint of fingerpicking picks up, and then a hum. A thump of percussion brings out the guitar and voice – “I’m a man on fire, walking through your street, with one guitar and two dancing feet.” The song grows slowly, adding more voices and faint howls. Two minutes in and the song finally blossoms into a folky, toe-tapping jam. But the jam is fleeting, and within ten seconds the instruments drop out from underneath the music, leaving only a tambourine and an ethereal feel, that texture that made so many fall in love with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

What’s telling about their second album, however, is that after about thirty seconds of free floating in “Man on Fire”, the jam comes back in and refuses to yield. Compared to the unworldly sound of the band’s debut, “Up From Below”, “Here” sounds less like wandering in a rapturous desert and more like jamming in the backyard with friends. The production isn’t as dreamy, the composition isn’t as epic, and the songs just aren’t moving in the same way they were. But being different isn’t a bad thing.

For the uninitiated, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are a faux band fronted by Ima Robot singer Alex Ebert. The group styles themselves like flower children in search of Jesus Christ Superstar, play a mean live show, and make delightful indie-folk music. Their first album was a blast, and as a result their songs started turning up in movies and television. As a result, the question is: how does the new record compare to the old?

As stated earlier, there’s quite a leap in attitude, from spiritual awakening to pleasant daydream. Some songs, like “Man on Fire” and “Mayla”, sound reminiscent of the older styling. But the vast majority of the album’s nine tracks are earthy folk. There are also touches of psychedelia, as in “Mayla”, and hints of harder rock, as in “Fiya Wata”. For “Here”, all the same instruments return, including piano and trumpet, giving every a song a full and wide palette. Ebert’s female counterpart, singer Jade Castrinos, also makes an appearance on several tracks, adding a nice harmony to the album.

It’s safe to say the change in attitude hasn’t hampered the record. For the entire forty minutes there is absolutely no low point, and with the style changing track-by-track “Here” offers a well-balanced album. There’s the thumping, raucous “I Don’t Wanna Pray”, and then there’s the flowing, almost guitar-only “Child”, to offer two points of contrast. Each song has something to it, and each is uplifting in its own way.

Two particular highlights are “That’s What’s Up”, with its driving beat and harmonizing between Ebert and Castrinos, and “All Wash Out”, the album’s last track. As the ender, “All Wash Out” performs its job admirably, taking the different aims of the record and boiling them down to a light and vivid track. With a dose of whistling, the song becomes a gentle and beautiful walk in the rain.

Although not as grand as “Up From Below”, “Here” marks another successful step in the mythology of Ed Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
Posted on July 8, 2012


Post a Comment

and don't be a dick. thanks