Like a symphony at a surf party, an orchestra on the beach, The Morning Benders’ new album Big Echo is just that. Pop/rock, surf, and classical music are all seamlessly combined until each genre cannot be distinguished from the others, a giant wave of sound, if you will.The Benders’ made leaps and bounds since their 2008 release, Talking Through Tin Cans, which didn’t receive much critical acclaim. It mostly featured the basic structure- guitar, bass, drums and some electronic appearances. It’s pretty hard to make groundbreaking music using the basic setup. It’s really easy to just be lumped together with other bands that sound the same.
To be heard these days, a band has to be able to make the listener say “wow” or “hmmm.” On the new album, it seems like the band knew they had to do something to set them apart from the host of power-pop bands that are on the scene today. They did it on Big Echo.
So many genres are present on the album. Jazz-like percussion, smooth cello, fluttering flutes, doo-wop vocals, and the clink-clank of xylophone accompany the drone of reverb-drenched surf guitar, a complex and unique sound, to say the least.
The most impressive aspect of the album, to me, was the unbelievable layered harmonies. They’re all over the place. Lead singer and guitarist Chris Chu has an amazing voice and a distinct vision. In his vocal arrangements, he records tracks in several vocal ranges and dubs the tracks over an original vocal track. The result is astoundingly rich and full. It’s basically a choir of one dude’s voice. The song that sums up the feeling of Big Echo is definitely “Excuses.” This song is so awesome because it has such a massive sound. In a recent experiment, Chu grouped a ton of his friends in a recording studio to record a version of this song. In the end, about thirty people packed into the studio.
Five guitar players, three percussionists, three violinists, two cello players, a choir of girls and a choir of guys all trade off parts and create a fantastically dense version of the song. Everyone should listen to this because it’s such a darn feel-good tune. You can watch the experiment by searching the track name “Excuses” on www.vimeo.com.
Another great aspect of this album is that it’s not all happy-go-lucky jangle pop. There are some really mellow tracks, as well. For instance, “Wet Cement” is a lofty, calm, and soft. Another chilled-out track is “Pleasure Sighs,” which is dreamy and slowed-down in comparison to most of the other tracks. Big Echo is a perfect album to get down to during springtime, too. Most of the tracks are sure to put you in a whimsical mood. Pop this one in and you’ll be blowing dandelion seeds into the air in no time.
Well, it’s the last edition of The Oracle for the semester, which means this is the last article I’ll be writing until next fall. It’s been a blast ranting about music every week. So, until I talk to you in the fall, listen to some good music, go to some good shows and have a great summer!