Alex Ebert

Alexander

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Like most bedroom recordings, there's a strong D.I.Y. current running through Alexander, the first solo release from Alex Ebert. Better known as the esoteric leader of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Ebert scales things back on this album, playing every instrument himself and handling production duties as well. For a man who spent the previous year on the road with a ten-member rock ensemble, he adapts well to the solo role, channeling Bob Dylan one minute and delving into reggae the next. The result is a sunny, homemade-sounding record, but these aren't throwaway songs -- there's enough melody here to warrant attention regardless of Ebert's success with the Magnetic Zeros, and while that band's blissed-out bombast is an obvious touchstone, Alexander covers significantly more ground. At the root of the musical melting pot is an emphasis on groove and melody, the former often taking the form of leg slaps, finger snaps, and mouth percussion (think Mungo Jerry) and the latter taking most of its cues from vintage California folk. On songs like "Remember Our Heart," horns and handclaps combine to create a lush psychedelic sound, but Ebert keeps things simple on "Glimpses," an acoustic ballad that shows he can hold his own without the aid of a sprawling band.

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