released Mar 9th, 2010

from the album - Excuses

YouTube - Excuses by The Morning Benders

from all music

Equally indebted to the Shins and Brian Wilson, the Morning Benders mix sunny pop songcraft with jangling guitars, collegiate wit, and a contemporary indie ethic. Frontman Chris Chu launched the group as a solo project in 2005, using a single microphone and laptop to record his first batch of songs. The Loose Change EP arrived in September 2006, and Chu subsequently opened the Benders' doors to several of his UC Berkeley classmates, including drummer Julian Harmon, bassist Tim Or, and guitarist/organist Joe Ferrell. A second EP, Boarded Doors, appeared in early 2007 and was well received by such Bay Area publications as The SF Weekly, prompting Chu to take a part-time job as a studio engineer in order to finance an additional record. Largely produced, engineered, and mixed by Chu himself, the full-length Talking Through Tin Cans arrived in May 2008 on the newly minted +1 Records label.

Talking Through Tin Cans fared well in indie pop circles, and the band toured heavily in support of its release, occasionally serving as the opening act for bands like Death Cab for Cutie and the Kooks. After releasing an album of acoustic pop covers, the Morning Benders pulled up stakes and moved to Brooklyn, where their '60s SoCal hooks gradually gave way to a more experimental sound. With Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor serving as co-producer, the bandmates introduced their new approach with 2010's Big Echo, an ambitious album that fused Chu's pop melodies with atmospheric textures.

album review

Talking Through Tin Cans presented the Morning Benders as sunny, strummy, lo-fi pop fanatics from the outskirts of San Francisco, but Big Echo is a different animal entirely. Released two years after the group’s debut, it’s an aural document of a band moving across the country, trading its California home for the urban enclaves of Brooklyn, switching labels, and replacing its ‘60s pop sound with something distinctly modern. There’s a lot of change at work here, but Big Echo’s biggest asset is its ability to navigate those changes in a breezy, tuneful way.

Frontman Chris Chu is a fan — a borderline disciple, even — of iconic pop bands, and the Morning Benders' work continues to be anchored by his melodies, even if they’re now flanked by textured arrangements and an active backup band. While Talking Through Tin Cans was almost a Chu solo project, Big Echo relies quite heavily on the whole group, with multiple electric guitars replacing Tin Cans’ acoustics and dense, layered soundscapes reigning supreme. Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor shares production duties with Chu, and the two brew up something majestic with tracks like “All Day Daylight,” a fizzy ode to summer, and “Excuses,” which opens the album with orchestral percussion and waltzing strings. Rarely do the piles of auxiliary instruments threaten to bury the band — if anything, Big Echo takes a page from Pet Sounds by allowing the production to shine on its own, highlighting the studio embellishments but never shifting focus away from the band’s own hooks. The Morning Benders have improved their game, and Big Echo finds them focusing not only on what they’re singing, but how they’re presenting those melodies.

Track Listing

1.Excuses - 5:17
2.Promises - 3:03
3.Wet Cement - 3:55
4.Cold War - 1:44
5.Pleasure Sighs - 4:28
6.Hand Me Downs - 3:45
7.Mason Jar - 4:45
8.All Day Day Light - 3:38
9.Stiches - 5:04
10.Sleeping In - 3:14