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The Sound of Zeros

Photo by Laure Vincent Bouleau
Photo by Laure Vincent Bouleau

What would a modern take on The Sound of Music look like? Probably a lot like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Take out the nuns, the Nazis and the children running around in curtains, and replace them with a troupe of musically gifted hipsters led by a charismatic conductor who looks a lot like Russell Brand. 

Said conductor is actually Alex Ebert, who spent much of the 2000s as lead singer of power-pop group Ima Robot. As of late, Ebert has turned his attention to a character of his own creation named Edward Sharpe. Ebert began drafting Edward Sharpe as a sort of imperfect savior to the masses who falls victim to his own human whims. In 2007 Ebert met fellow vocalist Jade Castrinos outside a cafe in Los Angeles and the Zeros began to take shape. 

Over the next two years Ebert and Castrinos amassed a group of eight extremely diverse musicians who all added color and spirit of their own to the Zeros’ indie-folk sound. In the summer of 2009 Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros released their first full-length album, Up From Below. Their sophomore release, Here, debuted this spring. 

The Zeros sound like a vintage summer day. Recorded on 24-track tape, Up from Below and Here maintain the slight hiss of songs played on a record player. With so many members playing different instruments, they’re reminiscent of a laid-back folk orchestra. All members contribute to vocals, which adds energy to the songs while encouraging audience participation during live performances. 

Live performances include much instrument swapping, clapping and dancing, even on stages that barely look big enough to hold the entire band. Highly energetic and eclectic, the Zeros fill venues with exuberant sound and eccentric characters.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play 7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 12, at McDonald Theatre; $35 adv., $38 door.