Written by Fantasma el Rey
The Morning Benders have arrived with their debut with CD, Talking Through Tin Cans, carrying with them a sound that is definitely thicker and stronger than tin. Through eleven self-penned tracks these lads, lead by Chris Chu (vocals, guitars, organs, piano) sweetly pound their songs into your head. Chu’s nasal pleading at times borders on whinny emo but is saved by his timing and lyrical talent. Ranking right next to The Kooks as modern masters of the truly great pop tune, stripping the sound back to the days of ’60s legends The Beatles, The Kinks and Count Five. And all just two minutes and thirty seconds over half an hour.
Jump starting the disc with “Damnit Anna,” The Morning Benders show just where they are going to take you on the journey that is Talking Through Tin Cans. Guitars jingle as Chu’s vocals take front and center until the big rumble drums plow forward to let you know they’re going to be a force all along the way. Everything pours rhythm from tambourines, drums, and bass to guitars, acoustic and electric. “Damnit Anna” flows right into “I Was Wrong,” slowing half a hair, then moves promptly to “Loose Change,” which keeps the drums heavy, giving off a brawling rockabilly sound as they thump and kick trough the three-minute mark, where most of their songs end up.
Chu has a way of delivering his crafty lyrics that make them stick as he weaves and bends his vocals through each magical ditty, painting pictures of what’s going on in his head. Keeping his songs edgy is his brilliant wordplay and overall song crafting, giving us a further look through his mind’s eye. Fine examples of Chu’s work are heard on “Loose Change” and “Patient Patient.” “Loose Change” finds our lovestruck hero working long and hard to get his baby to hit him with the truth of what’s on her mind. “Be my mirror/ Show me what I can change…Don’t let me down softly…Why can’t you just say what you mean” and the wonderful “Working too many hours only for your loose change.”
Chu’s is in top form on “Patient Patient,” with “Doctor,doctor…I’m just another book on your shelf/ all it takes is a little commitment/ I’m a patient patient” and “I’ve taken everything you gave me but its not enough/ and I’m running out of love.” It’s easy to hear what is really being said and who the doctor really is but done in a creatively and fun manner, helping the subject mater remain fresh.
“Waiting For A War” is the band’s first single and rightfully so as it spotlights them at their best; it’s playful piano rollicks as drums crash and the bass quietly plucks it’s way along while the guitar scratches chords to make you bop. On the other hand “Waiting For A War” can be taken as a dig on the current state of politics or more love gone wrong and love misunderstood. Chu sings of being tired of living his life like nothings happening and everybody talking and not doing a thing, tired of living like he’s dying and pointing out that talk is cheap but lies are cheaper. Politics or love? Chu leaves the interpretation to you and that’s the way it should be.
The entire time the band, Joe Ferrell, (guitars, pianos, organs) Julian Harmon, (drums, percussion) and David Perales, (bass) stay tight, displaying their skill by the timing they possess. They know when to back off and let the lyrics shine just as well as they know when to push forward and highlight a verse. They come together well showing that their time in the California clubs was well spent. Even as Chu slows up on songs like “Heavy Hearts” and “When We’re Apart,” they come in perfectly following his vocals. These kats can do it all from the funk grooves on “Boarded Doors” to the rockabilly/dark country/ rocking blues beat of “Wasted Time” and the heavy thrash and slash on “Chasing A Ghost,” those latter two tunes are the meanest tracks on the album ringing loud with influences from Johnny Cash to the Cure.
The Morning Benders pulled it all together and gave us Talking Through Tin Cans, a CD that plays well from track one to eleven. Simple themes made interesting by creative music and lyrics is what Fantasma digs the most and these guys deliver. After a good listen you’ll realize how the title binds the album and assists in presenting a complete package and one hell of a debut release.