CD Big Echo (CD 6291795),
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The Morning Benders
3. Wet Cement
4. Cold War
5. Pleasure Sighs
6. Hand Me Downs
7. Mason Jar
8. All Day Day Light
10. Sleeping In
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): RTRADCD566
Chris Taylor; Chris Taylor; Chris Chu; Christopher Chu
Chris Taylor; Aaron Burnham; Christopher Chu; Patrick Brown
Audio Mixers: Chris Taylor ; Christopher Chu.
Recording information: Different Fur Studios; Hangar.
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 without losing its footing.
Frontman Chris Chu is a fan -- a borderline disciple, even -- of iconic pop bands, and the Morning Benders are still 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 fairly heavily on the whole group, with electric guitars replacing Tin Cans' acoustics and dense, layered soundscapes reigning supreme throughout. 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 it. ~ Andrew Leahey
Spin - "The lush production by Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor and Benders frontman Christopher Chu embeds the band's elaborate melodies in a colorful wall of sound..."
CMJ - "The album fits squarely in the mold of classic, folksy indie rock, but the band and Taylor bring a few new shades of beauty to keep things interesting."
Pitchfork (Website) - "[The album has] a more coastal, kaleidoscopic California haze. It also finds them embracing the cavernous experimental rock sound of Grizzly Bear..."
Uncut (magazine) (p.115) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "There's more charm when they relax, in the swooning washes of 'Pleasure Sighs' and the blissed-out Brian Wilsonisms of 'Sleeping In'."
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Rough Trade RTRADCD 566
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