What if the sweet, art-house pretzel-logic Americana of Jeff Tweedy and Wilco was irresistibly informed by an almost obsessive love of Ray Davies and The Kinks, as if the white light of Tweedy’s rampant originality was broken into a spectrum of sound after hitting the Kinks’ prism shrine in his head? That could be as good a place as any to begin with The Morning Benders, who offer up an intriguing blend of Baroque Pop and Indie Rock that bubbles with a singular energy even as it references a sonic tradition that's comfortably familiar.
The Morning Benders took shape five years ago in Berkeley, Calif., honing its sound, its songs and its personnel across a pair of EPs until it was ready to unleash the crazy goodness of its debut full-length, 2008’s Talking Through Tin Cans, an album that iTunes knighted with the esteemed title of Best Indie/Alternative Album of that year.
It’s fair to say that a number of folks noticed before iTunes (although they were iTunes’ Editor’s Pick earlier in the year), as it had garnered much attention and acclaim opening for Ra Ra Riot, The Kooks, Yo La Tengo and Death Cab for Cutie, among others.
Last year, the Benders went out on tour with Grizzly Bear, which went so well that GB bassist Chris Taylor offered to co-produce its sophomore album, Big Echo, the band’s debut offering for Rough Trade. The Grizzly Bear connection has raised the Benders’ profile exponentially, and an opening slot with the red-hot James Mercer/Danger Mouse collaboration Broken Bells this year buried the needle even further.
Reviews for Tin Cans were mixed (some critics compared it to The Shins, as if that were a bad thing), but opinions on Big Echo have been overwhelmingly positive and, predictably, everything The Morning Benders do well in the studio is ramped up immeasurably on stage. Forget all the comparisons; it’s the Morning Benders that will be leaving you speechless.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)