Edward Sharpe has never existed except in the pages of a story penned by former Ima Robot singer Alex Ebert. The musician created the messianic — though lustful — character while going through a break-up and a bout of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. After about a year of these dark days, Ebert met Jade Castrinos; the duo gathered 10 friends, formed Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and let their creative juices flow.
The result is its debut, Up From Below, destined to be the soundtrack to wanna-be hippie communes everywhere. The band used a 24-track tape machine from 1979 to record the album, adding a layer of authenticity that is unmatched, even by the members’ converted-school-bus-as-tour-bus driven by a guy named Cornfed.
The band demonstrates an impressive level of musical precision, especially given its double-digit number of free spirits. Up From Below is an album where songs with feathery flute solos (“Om Nashi Me”) or claps and snaps (“40 Day Dream”) fit seamlessly with tracks that have darker musical themes (“Simplest Love,” “Black Water”).
The masterpiece of the album, however, is “Home,” easily the most genuine, joyful love song to have been released in the past year. Ebert and Castrinos take turns singing verses but join together for the chorus: “Let me come home / Home is wherever I’m with you.” There’s whistling, there’s shouting, there’s a hint of a Southern drawl from Castrinos — and above all, there’s an unadultered sense of head-over-heels exuberance that many jaded modern groups fail to capture.
At the release party for Up From Below, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros raised money for the Gulu Widows Group of Uganda. After this kind gesture, many of the women who have lost family in Northern Uganda’s civil war and their children gathered be filmed while singing “Home.” In this recording, the song’s chorus becomes especially poignant, and shows that despite all of the psychedelic fun of Up From Below, Sharpe may be a bit of a savior after all.
— By Executive Editor