Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros from the 2009 album Up From Below on Vagrant Records.
You may remember Ima Robot, the punky dance band out of LA that put out a couple of albums in the early to mid-00’s. Then again, maybe you don’t — after all, their glammy keyboard heavy sound tended to do a bit better in the UK than on their home turf. But maybe that’s just as well. Not to slight the previous band, but Ima Robot vocalist Alex Ebert has a whole new thing going on with his current project, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, which is more like Devendra Banhart fronting The Polyphonic Spree than Junior Senior channeling David Bowie (no offense to any bands involved in that analogy either!). Just imagine this guy castaway with Tom Hanks and Wilson for fifteen years and you get the idea.
And no, there is no Edward Sharpe, not in real life anyway. He’s a fictional character created by Ebert, a sort of failed messiah, or at least distracted one, who leads 10 or more musicians on-stage night after night before adoring fans, and rather than saving the world, he ends up falling in love. Sounds like the premise to a novel, right? In fact, Ebert is apparently chronicling the character in an unfinished book and through a 12-part feature length musical movie. Clearly, Ebert himself has had a reversal of attitude as well as style, and he’s said as much in interviews (like this one), claiming to have broken free of his self-destructive past through an awakening and through AA.
Musically, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros avoid the risk of getting lumped in with more popular hippie jam bands or cast aside with the freak folkers by creating feel good music so accessible and chant-worthy that you forget to make a million and one comparisons if not forget where you are! Today’s Song of the Day, “Home,” is a clear standout from the album because of its theatrical narrative and unforgettable duet with musical partner Jade Castrinos. If Trouble weren’t such a lonesome town, this would be Lee Hazelwood’s song.
As you can imagine, with about a dozen traveling members in the band, things can get a little crazy on tour for Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, but as they seem to be continually on the road, they’ve become consummate professionals. As Ebert told said during a Seattle appearance earlier this month, “we’ve been doing it for a long time, so we’re really good at this,” and the sold-out Neumo’s crowd seemed to agree. Unfortunately, there are no upcoming tour dates on the band’s website or MySpace page, but you can rest assured that they’ll be back on the road soon enough. For now, you can find two episodes of their multi-part feature here and watch the video for “Home” right here: