: Los Angeles Album
: Up From Below Members
: Nico Aglietti (guitar and synth), Jade Castrinos (percussion, vocals), Stewart Cole (horns), Josh Collazo (drums), Alex Ebert (vocals), Nora Kirkpatrick (accordion), Christian Letts (guitar), Orpheo McCord (percussion), Aaron Older (bass), Tay Strathairn (piano). For Fans Of:
Arcade Fire, George Harrison, Jefferson Airplane
Several years ago, Alex Ebert—the hard-partying lead singer of major-label power-pop group Ima Robot—broke up with his girlfriend, moved out of his house and joined Alcoholics Anonymous. After that, he spent a year sleeping on a blow-up mattress in a tiny L.A. apartment with no phone and no Internet, sketching out a story about a messianic figure named Edward Sharpe. “He was sent down to Earth to kinda heal and save mankind,” the longhaired, bearded and often-shirtless Ebert says. “But he kept getting distracted by girls and falling in love.”
Life imitated art shortly thereafter when Ebert met singer Jade Castrinos outside Little Pedro’s, near the train tracks downtown. “We hit it off and made a run for freedom,” Ebert says. “And of course we started writing music together.” By the summer of 2009, Ebert and Castrinos were touring the country in a big white bus with a group of fellow music makers known as Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
Like a crazed mix of Krishnas, von Trapps and musical merry pranksters, the dozen or so bandmates sing in a co-ed chorus about 40-day-long dreams, desert visions, the man from Galilee and their desire to heal you and set your spirit free. At the center is Ebert, laughing and dancing and shaking like he has that same covenant with God.
For its album, Up From Below, the band traded the “tits on glass” sound of Ebert’s Pro Tools-recorded demos for the analog hiss of 24-track tape. The wall-of-sound arrangements are as big and warm as they were at Motown or Gold Star Studios. And, appropriately, the group’s aesthetic rests soundly in Summer of Love-era California. But the hopeful music isn’t intended to be nostalgic or ironic. “I couldn’t give a fuck about irony,” Ebert says. “It’s a child’s play thing. It’s tinkering with the fringes of the heart.”