The Morning Benders: Big Echo, in "Nothing Not New"

Artist: The Morning Benders

Title: Big Echo
Release date: March 9
Label: Rough Trade

Obviously, summer ain't no big deal in Phoenix. No one here actually looks forward to the dreadful season. But everywhere else (including my native Midwest), people have had more than enough winter by this point, and are waiting for the sun to shine.

This record by The Morning Benders, a band from Berkeley, California, should help them get in the mood. And it makes for a decent companion piece to the new record by Baltimore band Beach House, which I wrote about in January.

In fact, as I was listening to The Morning Benders yesterday, I started to wonder whether they sounded just like Beach House. I'm pleased to report that they're M.B. (method of beach) is a lot more dynamic than B.H. Think of Morning Benders as Beach House with the rock sensibilities of, say, Surfer Blood thrown into the mix. 

Anyway, Big Echo starts off on a big high note, with "Excuses," which fuses Joe Meek-style production with girl-group and doo-wop song structure. Pretty cool. The album settles down into a hazy, summertime-at-dusk groove of low-key mood pieces. There's a dash of soul, a whole schooner-full of mid-period Beach Boys, and some atmospheric Walkmen-esque touches. I found it easy to ignore after a while, until track eight, "All Day Daylight," shook me from the Morning Benders doldrums. It's a surefire summer-pop hit, buried near the end of the record. Download that song, and venture into the rest of Big Echo's waters at your own risk.

Best song: "All Day Daylight," one of the best songs I've heard this year.
Rotation: Medium
Deja Vu: Hungover on a Sunday morning.
I'd rather listen to: Surfer Blood
Grade: C+

Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 40-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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