JAM: Edward Sharpe’s “Here”

by Mark Jacobo

Were you in need of a folk-country-rock fusion album sung by a band of interesting looking hippies from Los Angeles? If so, then Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ sophomore album Here is just the thing you need.

By the way, I call the band “interesting looking hippies” with the best intentions.

Although the album is not so much a departure from the bands first, Up from Below released in 2009, Here is an independent work and stands alone from its predecessor. It’s catchy, spiritual, soothing, and lead singer-songwriter Alex Ebert truly showcases his songwriting skills.

The album opens up with “Man on Fire”–arguably my favorite song off the album at the moment. Ebert sounds like a young Johnny Cash in the opening verse, and the quirky echoey yips from singer-guitarist Sandra Castrinos, along with the rest of the background vocals, give it a familiar Magnetic Zero feel with a fresh new spin. The song is about a man who has seemingly seen it all, with the sole desire to unify the world using music. The titular man of fire is selfless–he doesn’t want comfort, safety or romance like everyone else. He pretty much just wants to dance.

The second track, “That’s What’s Up” is a sweet love song that sounds like it should be in the Country Music category. Even the chorus, “You’ve got my love to lean on darling/That’s what’s up/” is very, shall we say, Dolly Parton.

The majority of Here maintains that folk rock feel to it, which is what makes it stand out in comparison to Up from Below. Along with “That’s What’s Up”, the songs “I Don’t Wanna Pray”, and “Dear Believer” sound like they’re straight from the 60’s or 70’s. In fact, “Dear Believer” sounds a lot similar to another song that for life of me I cannot remember (if someone has heard the track and knows what song I am speaking of, please, help a guy out–I’ll definitely lose sleep).

“Mayla”, a song that sounds like one of the tunes a church band would play, is more reminiscent of Up from Below.
“Fiya Wata”, (which I think might mean fire water) is a track that showcases Castrinos singing skills. I’m glad Castrinos had a track like “Fiya Wata”, because her raspy voice and singing style is something that is lacking in modern music.

The closing track is “All Wash Out”, a soft melody accompanied by piano and Ebert’s soft, comforting singing, as well as his whistling. The song has a shift halfway; drums, brass, and explosions, which contrasts the softness that dominates the song.

Here is definitely a satisfying album, and in my honest opinion bests Up from Below. Although there are some great songs on the bands freshman album, and Here only has nine tracks, Here exhibits a nostalgic folk/hippy, melodious concept that wasn’t there the first time around.