Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros | Here

Community Music (2012)
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  May 22, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars


Maybe I'm feeling the ghost of Levon Helm, but it's hard to find many flaws in this new disc from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Without Ray Lamontagne's writerly maudlin streak or Arcade Fire's song-hawker zealousness, Here nonetheless manages to exhibit just a little of both. These nine songs combine folk and indie-rock in a loosely produced midnight hootenanny that, while sepia-toned, is much more than sentimental fare. This is no Boy Scout jamboree: the Magnetic Zeros have both a sing-along community spirit and a lyrical bent that suggests a friendly sectarian church. In "That's What's Up," singers Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos harmonize, "I'll be the church you be the steeple" — their treble-tweaked voices nearly matched by the gurgling of a funky clavinet. "I Don't Wanna" finds the medicine show exulting, "I love my God, God made love;" the banjo strum and porch-stomp reminding us not to be afraid of the g-word — gospel music. For all the communal vibe on Here, Ebert's frontman charisma stabilizes the album's genre-hopping (folk, gospel, rock, reggae, soul, etc.). On "Man on Fire," he leads the band through a meditative choral hum into a honky-tonk spree with a quiet passion somewhere between Leonard Cohen's hymnal grace and Bruce Springsteen's street-poet cool. Even at his most average ("All Wash Out"), the scruffy singer channels a groovy '70s AM-radio pop-soul vibe that's unblemished by melisma or other excesses. At his worst ("Child"), he's a little precious. The real test at this point would be the Magnetic Zeros' live show. If they can match the record's spontaneity — rather than recreating it note-for-note — they'll have something truly special.

Related: Various Artists | Casual Victim Pile: Austin 2010, Bearstronaut | Broken Handclaps, Avi Buffalo | Avi Buffalo, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Arts, CD reviews,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   THE UNIFIED MELODY OF SLOWDIM  |  March 20, 2013
    Slowdim drink wine with pizza. It's true. I was there.
  •   THE MARY ONETTES | HIT THE WAVES  |  March 13, 2013
    Hit the Waves is so heartfelt as a pastiche of '80s alternative music that it almost muscles its way into being brilliant.
  •   THE MODERN RETRO OF JESSE DEE  |  March 05, 2013
    On his new record On My Mind/In My Heart , the question is not if Jesse Dee can step up to the challenge of making authentic soul and R&B music in 2013, but rather how he goes about it.
  •   TAME IMPALA’S NEW SURROUND SOUND  |  March 08, 2013
    Whether it's Bradford Cox with Deerhunter, or Dan Snaith with Caribou, or Kevin Parker with Tame Impala, there must be something with this trend in sonic auteurs with cervine band names.
    "It seems like a challenge to make something that you have to pay a lot of attention to," says Josh Dibbs.

 See all articles by: JONATHAN DONALDSON