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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

When Alex Ebert left indie-electronica group Ima Robot, a switch somewhere inside of him flipped on an electric current. He grew a beard, met a lovely muse and convinced 10 people to join a musical commune he called Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

The Los Angeles folk-rock group channels a Laurel Canyon vibe—Buffalo Springfield, The Mamas and the Papas, The Byrds—on its first full-length album, Up From Below. Most of the old-school pop influence was excised, edging the Magnetic Zeros closer to rock like Arcade Fire and Devendra Banhart's slower tempo folksiness.

But the retro-feel is truly a lifestyle choice for Ebert and his Magnetic Zeros, who travel around the country in a white school bus like Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, confirming their innate hippie-dom. But Up From Below isn't just a collection of throwaway songs about peace and love. Buried in the lyrics, like hidden clues on a treasure map, are references to The Beatles, Edgar Allan Poe, Jesus, Jack Kerouac and J.D. Salinger.

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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

One song guaranteed to get stuck in your head is "Home," an Ebert and Jade Castrinos sing-song duet that's drawn comparisons to Johnny and June Carter Cash. Ebert and Castrinos, his green-eyed muse, trade rhythmic, almost childish couplets like "Alabama, Arkansas, I do love my ma and pa," and intertwine them with lovey-dovey declarations, "But not as much as I do love you."

Somehow, it works.

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