The last time I saw The Morning Benders was just under two years ago when they opened up for the Kooks when I wrote this review:
Openers The Morning Benders seemed like a perfect match in terms of the demographic of the audience. Comprised of four innocuous looking young men with perfectly poppy tunes, the Berkley quartet were probably loving all of the supportive whooping coming from the audience. However, after the show the lead singer caused a giant clusterfuck along the exit path as little ewoks huddled around him asking him to sign their CDs and chit-chatting with him. Gasped one girl to the other, “Ohmigod, it IS HIM!”
Some things have changed since then: while The Morning Benders still hold on to their pop roots, they’ve graduated into a grand choral sound full of harmonizing vocals and reverberating guitar distortion. You can’t help but wonder how much of that change has to do with Grizzly Bear’s bassist/producer Chris Taylor, who lent his talents to the production of TMB’s newest LP, Big Echo. But no matter what the origin for the shift in the band’s sound, there’s no denying that the result is stellar.
The Morning Benders have successfully synthesized the rarely occurring combination of making music that appeals to both geeky music nerds and 16-year-old girls. But what’s most unusual is that unlike so many other groups in the geeky music nerd/16-year-old girl cross section (MGMT, LCD Soundsystem, Beyonce [ironically]), TMBs don’t rely on tons of synthesizers and dancey hooks to reel in their audience.
Instead they lean on their innocent baby faces and mild manners retain their core group of fans who fell for the pop pedigree sounds of their first album, while letting their new sound captivate a more mature, less estrogen-fueled fan base who got a taste of them while opening up for Grizzly Bear and Ra Ra Riot.
They also tap into an underutilized marketing tool in indie rock — the power of the Asians. Everyone knows that little Asian girls love indie rock music (take a look at the front row of the makeup of any poppy British band and tell me I’m wrong), and now they finally have their very own set of dreamy Asian-mom-approved guys to pine over. But what about the white dude on the drums? It’s A-OK my friends, the internetz tell me that just like white people like Asian girls, Asians girls like white dudes.
Time to add the Chu brothers and Tim Or to the great pantheon of other Asian dude rockers — like James Iha and… uh… that Asian guy from N.E.R.D.?????
Continue reading “The Morning Benders’ “Big Echo” Swelled and Soared at MHOW”