First, Up from Below should have been my last years summer record. Second, their music videos are some of the best I’ve seen, so why the bloody hell haven’t I come across them before…another one of lifes little mysteries to dwell upon…I don’t know is the simple answer, but I’m glad I crossed their path over a strong coffee and early morning danish. OK, it would have been great to have crossed his path out in the desert somewhere (watch the video below) but someone has to keep things ticking over here at Planet FRUK.
Edward Sharpe is in fact Alex Ebert, the former front-man for Ima Robot. He has resurrected something that gets me excited. Probably got a lot to do with being lucky enough to have seen the late Ken Kesey when he toured the UK with Ken Babbs. I saw them twice, once at the Babrican and at Shane McGowan’s local boozer. The experience left a lasting impression. For those of you that haven’t a clue what the hell I’m on about grab a copy of Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test
and have a read.
We left something fun and inspiring behind with Ken Kessey and his band of pranksters. When they were ploughing through the heartland of the US of A scaring the crap out of Republicans and law enforcement agenicies, who eventually busted him for possession of marjuana. All slightly ironic in that the CIA funded a study that he was a guinea pig for, involving the taking of a number of hallucinigenic drugs, including LSD. That aside, life wasn’t so goddamn serious and there wasn’t as much fear and bullshit as there is today and that wasn’t all down to smoking pot! So what better than to come across the LA-based, Sharpe and the Zeros, who seem to have taken some inspiration from Ken and have been touring the States in a multi-coloured school bus. They have a similar joyous ethos about them which, for me, brings some sanity to this pretty messed up world right now.
There’s plenty of singing, hand clapping and harmonies served up on Up from Below in great big doses of Indie/psych-folk laden beauty. Now that exuberant description may make them sound like a bunch of fruitcakes but no…this is a clever album with clever orchestration and arrangements. Have a listen on the samples below!
From the euphoric opening surge of “40 Day Dream” — with its Arcade Firing arrangements and witty, mystic lyrics (“She got sunset on her breath/ I inhaled just a little, now I’ve got no fear of death”) — it’s clear that the group doesn’t care for small strokes. Sharpe’s voice swoops from declamatory prophet to achingly romantic falsetto, and there’s barely a second where he’s treading water. The record brims with life. “Jade” relaxes into mellow summery folk; elsewhere, there are anguished semi-autobiographical confessionals. “Desert Song” builds, with impeccably-gauged guitar dynamics, into an atmospheric epic. “Come in Please” pulls off the challenging task of name-checking The Catcher In The Rye without stalling its gorgeous blue-eyed soul. And just as the centrepiece “Home” risks tilting over into a zealous parody of a Salvation Army marching tune, Sharpe breaks off to tell his backing vocalist that he fell deeply in love with her when he saw her smoking a cigarette in the back of an ambulance. She seems touched by his candour, and you will be too.
[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/1vtaf0vyl0.mp3|titles=Home|artists=Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros]
40 Day Dream
[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/ymultcyaga.mp3|titles=40 Day Dream|artists=Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros]
Something different: These are part of a 12 part music video series being put together by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros:
Time to Turn on, tune in, drop out!
Always wanted to say that! Time for some green tea…
Buy it: Amazon UK
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All photography except photo of Ken Kessey by Michael Eaton