Music » CD Reviews

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Up From Below (Community/Fairfax)

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Think of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros as the U.S. version of the Arcade Fire. Or the unwashed-hippie version of the Arcade Fire. The comparisons are inevitable, since the 10-member, L.A.-based crew load the intricately arranged songs on their debut album with accordions, trumpets and tons of percussion. The opening "40 Day Dream" even marches along like one of Win Butler's tightly packed compositions. Frontman Alex Ebert has a shakier voice than Butler, occasionally elevating it to an ear-piercing falsetto. But the Canadian collective has never been as playfully silly as the Zeros get on "Janglin," which includes whistling, a mid-song detour and bubbly "ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-bas" straight out of a swingin'-'60s flick. They can't quite sustain this momentum for a full hour, often sagging under the weight of their overstuffed ambition. But Up From Below's freak-folk take on chamber-music puts a summery spin on some familiar sounds. — Michael Gallucci

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