Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros frontman Alex Ebert is everywhere these days.
In October, Avicii released his second LP, called Stories, featuring Ebert as a guest vocalist on the song For A Better Day.
In a video posted on Rolling Stone’s website, Avicii, the Swedish DJ, born Tim Bergling, takes fans behind the scenes of the making of the song. The video shows footage of Ebert and Bergling inside a studio, writing and recording the song, as well as live shots of Avicii performing the song.
“For me, when I hear a song and [it's] burrowed into my brain — I go to sleep humming it and can’t get it out or I wake up humming it and can’t get it out, and I want to curse the artist for putting it in my head — then that’s a good sign,” Bergling told Rolling Stone. “I think that’s what this song and the piano part does to people. As you can see from the video, Alex was a blast to work with in the studio, and we had a lot of fun.”
Rolling Stone points out that Ebert wasn’t the only guest vocalist to appear on Stories, as Chris Martin and Zac Brown both sing on the LP.
‘Feel the Bern’
He has never written a song in favor of any politician before, but Ebert says “ol’ Bernie Sanders is just the kind of humble fire I like gathering around.”
Last month, Ebert released Feel the Bern, a new song via SoundCloud in honor of the Democratic presidential candidate. The song plays off of Sanders’ campaign slogan: “Feel the Bern!”
The Bern, The Bern,
Feel the burn, feel the heat in our eyes.
The Bern, The Bern,
Feel the burn, feel the love in our eyes.
“He burns un-postured, plain as day. He walks free, un-bought – not from luck of wealth, but from the strength of honor,” Ebert writes on his Facebook page. “He stands, unkempt, unafraid of what he might say because there is nothing of him to hide. He runs for president free of presidential hair, free of prisoning pockets, free of cowardice. He speaks – ah, but don’t they all! (Anyone can shoot a few straight lines at your television screen – few can then refer you to a history of service that vouches for each word…Bernie can.) He sings…no, but on occasion I do – and I thought it about damn time ol’ Bernie had a song! Sing this song. Stoke the man’s fire. May the truth he bears torch his competition.”
Among the best lines in the song:
“No more lying, no more empty talk, because all this money got it twisted. He walks the walk.”
Live on vinyl
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’s new live album, Live In No Particular Order: 2009-2014, is now available on vinyl. With the holiday season right around the corner, this should be on every Sharpie’s list. Regan Detwiler of the Michigan Daily calls it “absolutely a dream.”
The live album opens with Better Days, which Detwiler says is “a nod to hope and should be everyone’s go-to on a bad day. It speaks of how we all go through bad times, but what the hell: ‘down with history, up with your head,’ because “we might still know sorrow, but we got better days.” For me, those words mean we got better days in the sense that we got days actually better than the ones we’re living now, but also that we got this song, Better Days. In this sense, even if the future doesn’t look up right away we have this song, music itself and the ability to feel with others.”
The live album follows ESMZ throughout a five-year period, with songs recorder throughout various locations around the country.
“Though much of the group’s work focuses on maintaining hope and lightheartedness through the chaos of life, a lot of onerous and intense emotion has obviously gone into creating all of this music, showing that the musicians may not only be reminding listeners to stay uplifted, but reminding themselves as well,” Detwiler writes. “It only seems appropriate that this last song tells us to ‘let it all wash out … in the rain.’ It’s as if the musicians are telling themselves to let themselves be cleansed of the emotion in all of those live performances, but also telling their audience to do the same.”
Justin Barrientos of the Sonoma State Star wasn’t as kind, saying the songs on “Live in No Particular Order “all blend together.”
“There are redeeming tracks such as Home, which stands out from all the others and the songs are individually all lyrically strong; however as an album, especially a live album, it becomes a little redundant as some songs sharing a few of the same musical feature and instrument sounds such as a whistle like at the beginning of both Home and If I Were Free. The dreamy vibe produced by the band seems to cause the tracks to blend together as well, with tracks such as Mayla and Truth being examples of this. Similarly, the constant cheering, although exciting at first can become tiring, resulting in this album lacking something that all bands need: the ability to grow.” Hmmm, OK.
Collazo in Canada
During the band’s stopover in Canada this summer, ESMZ drummer Josh Collazo opened up to The Montreal Gazette and the Winnipeg Free Press about a variety of issues for the newspapers’ fall festival previews.
Among the highlights:
On the vibe of the band: “You know, it’s funny,” he says in his soft drawl, “on the last tour at a festival in Pemberton, B.C., we were sitting around drinking beers after the show. We were kind of discussing how we appear to have a different vibe compared to most bands that go out there, and trying to figure out what it was. One thing we really try to do is go out there with the best intentions — but also, kind of with no intentions. To just play.” – Montreal Gazette
On performing without a setlist: “Yeah, sometimes the audience dictates the tunes. Especially recently, we’ve been trying to just go out there and if somebody in the band feels like calling the tune, it’ll go that way, or if a bunch of people in the front row are calling out ‘Man on Fire,’ most likely we’re starting with Man on Fire. We just kind of let everything … happen, and surrender to the moment. That may set us apart from some other bands…Since we don’t have a setlist and go with an open invitation, sometimes it puts us on the spot.” Someone might shout out a deep album cut they haven’t played in five years. “Sometimes we have to be like, ‘Uhh … I dunno about that.’ But most of the time, we actually go for it, and if it turns into a train wreck …’”– Montreal Gazette
On trusting your bandmates: “It doesn’t work all the time, but a sort of psychic realm onstage, where we’re watching (singer) Alex (Ebert) for a cue. And it could be mid-song of another tune. If we’re making a left turn here, then everybody’s making a left turn together. It happens and we’re not thinking about it, and it sounds good.” – Montreal Gazette
On writing and recording their forthcoming album in New Orleans: “Normally, Alex takes the lead on the writing, but this was an entirely different process for us. We went in with the intention of trying to write everything as a band, all sitting in the same room. It came out better than everybody expected and we’re really excited about that.” – Winnipeg Free Press
On performing their forthcoming album in its entirety at South by Southwest earlier this year: “I don’t think we ever get nervous onstage, but that show, I think everybody was a little bit… there was a lot more anticipation because we wanted everything to be perfect and for it to be a really cool experience for the audience. I don’t think a lot of bands show their cards right away, and it was kind of an interesting approach to build some momentum for the new album.” – Winnipeg Free Press