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We are in serious hippie folk land here a place where I have to admit I am not entirely comfortable. Indeed Rough Trades latest prodigy are the type of bearded ex miscreants who never managed to catch the return bus from Glastonbury and have spent a little to much time failing to cook their mushrooms.

But don't let this put you off, indeed check them out doing a version of "Home" on Letterman's show on You Tube and I dare you not to enjoy it. Jolly good fun and what Paul Merton once described as "bonkers in the nut". Rolling Stone has described their stage appearances as "shamanistic tent revivals more than rock concerts". Perhaps I should stop at this point since I am not making a very good case here.

So what do ESAMZ have going for them and how good is Up From Below? For a start Sharpe (aka Alex Ebert who looks like an extra from the Life of Brian) is the best whistler since Andrew Bird and I must admit that I am thinking of calling for a Roger Whittaker revival since I am becoming such a fan of the "Two lipped and teeth" harmonica.

Who then are Edward Sharpe et al? The Rough Trade website tells us with no sense of irony that "this musical collective led by Alex Ebert make big, open-hearted anthems that evoke a different era when cynicism didn't course through pop music like countermelodies. The band's aesthetic, no matter how contemporary and organic its evolution, screams '60s psychedelia and '70s boho-rock right down to touring in a converted school bus with the band's name in script on the side and a driver named Cornfed" This is clearly written by someone taking a Poetry A Level but at the same time it is all a bit tongue in cheek like the band itself.

The music alternatively is the most enjoyable I have heard since Elvis Perkins cut his last track on this years "In Dearland" album. Standouts include the aforementioned country soul whistling stomp "Home" featuring Ebert and girlfriend/singer Jade Castrinos, singing about their uninhibited love for each other. It starts with off the immortal line probably intended to offend those of a redneck persuasion that -

"Alabama, Arkansas,
I do love my ma and pa,
Not the way that I do love you".

Other highlights are the superb "40 Day Dream" which doesn't half sound like Elton John mixed with the Arcade Fire. The "high grade epic psychedelia" that is Desert Song. The lovely "Black Water" and the genuinely weird but fun "Om Nashi me" and frankly daft "Janglin". I have no idea what this is about and don't care. All I know is that my cat stared hard at me when I played it.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Seriously, they are gonna be huge particularly around campfires.
22 Comments| 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I spotted this on Amazon.com and saw the positive reviews here and decided I would give it a go. That was the best thing I did that day, I am new to the glorious sounds of 'Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros', but I intend to become fully acquainted after hearing this.

They have been compared to the hippy culture of the late sixties and I don't think they would disagree. They reminded me in places of the aural joy you get in some of the songs of that time and the outpouring of love from shows like 'Hair' etc. They all have a go at singing and have a plethora of instruments including harmonica, accordion, trumpets and even a viola, but I am sure they have a few tambourines too. This is in no way cacophonous; it is a beautiful blend of nostalgia that is brought up to date exploding with the joys of life. I am a bit gushy there, but you have to hear it to get the full thing.

Opening track '40 Day dream' is all percussion, keyboards and a riff that will pull you along effortlessly, but the mood changes on every track. 'Jade' is a low key love ode to, well Jade, who sings and plays percussion with the Zeros. Track 4 'Carries On' is my current favourite, but I love all of them. What I really appreciate is the way they all burst into song at the chorus a bit like Polyphonic Spree used to do, but this is miles better.

'Kisses Over Babylon' is Spanish I think and just oozes emotion and 'Black Water' just keeps haunting me. This will not float everyone's boat, but if yours don't move then you really aint in touch with your inner child and have probably never hugged a tree let alone climbed one. I'm off to listen again and do some recreational medication (or have a cup of herbal tea - peace).
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on 27 August 2009
What's not to like? Home is particularly good. The sound is akin to some kind of hybrid of The Arcade Fire and what The Pogues might have sounded like if their parents had emigrated to Southern USA rather than London. Having said that, not easy to pigeonhole, but worth a punt for anyone looking for something a bit different. Still not entirely sure what a magentic zero is, mind you :)
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on 18 April 2014
Didn't know anything about this band til I heard the track "Home" which is used on a TV advert I think. Anyway, it sounds a bit like Monsters and Men, Donovan, The Boss in places. Lots of catchy tunes, medium band instrumental arrangements, joint band choruses and the occasional amusing lyric. I like it a lot and it's still growing on me two weeks later.
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on 13 August 2009
The summer of love meets Dixie. In one sentence, that's how I would sum up the sound of this album. It's pretty much an album of 2 halves; Feel Good and Feel Something. The quality is there throughout the whole album, so don't get confused with this description.

The feel good is the first 6 tracks. These will just raise you up. '40 Day Dream', 'Janglin' and 'Up From Below' will have you tapping your feet from the get go. Then there's the gift that's called 'Carries On' and it surely is a gift. This is followed by 'Jade' which is the name of one of the group members who was the main pen on 'Home' which is probably the happiest track on the album. You'll be whistling along to this one.

The feel something is the next 6 tracks beginning with 'Desert Song'. This is where it gets serious and Desert Song is a standout track that for me would probably outlast all the rest if it wasn't for 'Brother', the 12th track. I defy anyone not to feel something after listening to this track. The album is topped off with 'Om Nashi Me', a 6 minute mostly instrumental track with assorted chanting that re-ignites the feel good factor.

There is such an eclectic mix to this album, I think most music lovers will take at least half of this album to heart.
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on 1 March 2010
I bought this CD on a whim based entirely on the album cover and I have to say that the gamble paid off. The quality of the songs is high throughout and they exhibit a wide range of styles from psych-rock to folk to C&W. I've listened to it numerous times and I get the feeling that this band would be great to see live too, they sound like they're having a good time and it comes through in all the tracks. This is definitely one of the best albums I have heard in the last couple of years, well worth a gamble
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on 20 March 2013
Just love this 60's infused album. Got it on permanent play in the car, can't think of a bad track, they all offer something different. Especially love 'Up from Below' which I can't stop singing. Lots of other stand out tracks though, and some sweet trumpet playing, not to mention the whistling! Buy it, you wont regret it. Best buy of 2013 so far, and only just second to Loveblood by the sublime King Charles, in terms of time spent listening to it.
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on 3 March 2014
I came across this group on the film about a group of folk groups travelling across american on a train. Their performance is fantastic, and while this album offers a taste of their music the film has ensured that next time they do a tour of this country I will be attending.
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on 18 March 2014
I was a little disappointed, I love the songs 'Home' and '40 day dream' so I thought I'd give the whole album a go. Unfortunately, I just can't get 'into' the songs.

Nothing wrong with the P&P though!
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on 13 August 2009
I bought this CD after hearing '40 day dream' on the radio, it is absolutely Magic - love Desert Song in fact I love all the tracks it is excellent in every respect and one to be played over and over again.
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