Underrated: Spotlight on Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros


Conor Toland, Music Critic


This week’s highlighted artist for Underrated is Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, an indie folk-rock band influenced by the hippie circles of 60s. It has held over ten members, most importantly lead singers/songwriters Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos. The two cofounded the band in 2007 and have released four studio albums; Up From Below in 2009, Here in 2012, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros in 2013, and PersonA in 2016, the latest being the only album to not feature Castrinos’ contribution. It is, in my opinion, their worst as a result, though not awful. My top five tracks will therefore not include any from that album.

Before I get to my list however, I’ll explain more abo

ut the type of music they play. Though the music is most similar to the folk revival music of the 2010s (e.g The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons), there are also traces of psychedelia and alternative country. Often times it just sounds the band is having fun making music, even when the songs are sad or mellow. The music is played with emotion and you can sense the passion that is put into the music, lyrically and melodically. With that said, here are the top five tracks by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros:

  1. Better Days – (Here)

The sing is about as cliche subject-wise as you would imagine a song called “Better Days” to be. However, it is aware of it, and still effectively can make you feel better when your said as Alex Ebert comforts you. The beat is infectious while the song is still sweet and sentimental. The use of spacey backing vocals is used excellently to help contribute to the message of the song: though you might be sad, there are always better times ahead.

  1. 40 Day Dream (Up From Below)

This song, the band’s first single, is sappy and sentimental; the rocking beat helps the song actually feel dreamlike in quality. Certainly fitting, as the singer details how his love is so great that it cannot be true – it must be a dream. It’s well written and coated in sweetness. The song is positive in such a way that it’s hard to be down listening it it; it has an almost elevating effect. The happiness of the singer is infectious, and it’s an absolute joy to listen to.

  1. When You’re Young- (Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros)

If you’ve read any of my other “Underrated” articles, you’ll find that I am a sucker for music that reminds me of the Beatles (the Beatles, clearly, are my favorite band). This song does that very well – it could easily have come out in the 60s, and it’s also one of the only songs by the band where neither Alex nor Jade sing lead vocals. It’s therefore quite different from most of the rest of the bands material – which is probably why this song only made it onto the album’s deluxe edition. It’s light and bouncy and worth checking out.

  1. Life is Hard – (Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros)

“Life is Hard” is one of those songs that just hits all the right notes emotionally. It has just a massive sound that hits you with a wall of sound. The large amount of instruments all come together to create a song with an incredible force. It’s fitting – the song focuses on dealing with the difficulty that is living, and how that fact that it’s so hard maybe is what makes it worth living. Both Alex and Jade deliver phenomenal vocal performances.

  1. Home – (Up From Below)

Without a doubt “Home” is the band’s most popular song. It’s been used in TV shows, commercials, etc. It’s a song you probably know by now but don’t realize it, and it’s 100% worth checking out as its own thing. It’s really sweet and filled with folksy charm. Jade and Alex deliver an absolute marvelous performance together, and the performance is aided by the wonderfully thick instrumentation. It’s a beautiful song.