Question: Do former members of completely abject bands deserve another shot? Alex Ebert, the primary hippie in the love fest shown above, was formerly the frontman for Ima Robot. In case you don't remember them, Ima Robot looked and sounded like this. Ouch. But then Ebert (presumably) did a whole lot of acid and soul-searching and (definitely) grew a stinky, mangy tangle of hair, and now BOOM! He's huge in Brooklyn. From my Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Critic's Pick:
Rumor has it that Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros formed shortly after a period of "existential crisis" suffered by frontman Alex Ebert--no, his name isn't Edward Sharpe, and no, there is no Edward Sharpe. The onetime singer for sassy L.A. dance-punkers Ima Robot was apparently looking for a more organic outlet, because he left his fashion mullet and his synthesizers behind for the patchouli-drenched, lilting madness of the Magnetic Zeros. Truth is he might have overcorrected just a bit, because this summer's Up From Below is something of a starry-eyed love fest. Nevertheless, the 11-piece outfit's expansive, melodically epic debut sparkles with ambition thanks to horns, organs, kid choruses, whistling, sweet-as-pie duets and ramshackle percussion--a page right out of the Polyphonic Spree handbook. Truly, there are a handful of dangerously infectious vocal melodies on Up From Below that threaten to melt the heart of even the most cynical audiophile. Who says an acid-dropping batch of stinky field-dwellers can't strike gold every once in a while?
This brings to mind a band by the name of Delta Spirit. You might recall their debut full-length from last year, Ode to Sunshine. It's not bad. Not earth-shattering, but pretty damn good, as a matter of fact. But before Delta Sprit, two of the members were in a little band by the name of Noise Ratchet, and that, my friends, was bad stuff. But everyone deserves a second chance--I'd venture to guess that roughly 50 percent of the folks who read our blog were at some point involved in a musical project they severely regret (I'll throw myself into that percentage).
My only fear for Alex Ebert is that the poor fella gets a bit too wrapped up in the aesthetic of whatever project he's currently pursuing. What's going to happen when the school bus his band drives around the country in runs out of love, gasoline, acid and pseudo-philosophical dogma? Will he switch to R&B next time? That remains to be seen. But I can tell you that ES & the MZs' debut, Up From Below, is strong. It's hammy and sentimental and jangly, but it's just as catchy, optimistic and resonant. And that's good for something, right? Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 3rd & Lindsley with Local Natives and Family of The Year. Tickets are available here.