Chris Chu has a point. As he explains in the video, a lot of bands get pigeonholed into a certain sound when they become successful, and falter from the pressure to come up something better while boxed into one sound. Big Echo, their last album under The Morning Benders moniker, had brought them to the heights of post-Beach Boys/Beatles indie/pop, elaborate, but not overly orante pocket symphonies, the fleeting emotions following a break-up and working through it. So it’s daring that they’ve changed their approach, but ultimately it’s honest to the artist and saves their sound from becoming stagnant.
POP ETC is also very embracing of social media, and probably one of the better bands at reaching out to their fans. When they first announced their change of name, it wasn’t a little press release that gave no reasons, it clearly stated the why and their intentions. While their album isn’t due out til the 12th of June, they’ve been keeping busy with making mixes, showcasing their influences and eclectic tastes through successive Weekend Mixes.
As to the song itself, “Keep It For Your Own” is a great single, the hook that a better Coldplay might have made (I’m talking “Don’t Panic” era) and the live production touches of the Yours Truly session meld beautifully, an acoustic guitar here, an upright piano there, organic harmonies with a few electronic pieces.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was worried when I heard that The Morning Benders were taking on a new name and a whole new sound. Having fallen in love with Big Echo, one of the first records that really resonated with my life, an intersection of time and place. Furthermore, I had never identified with the 90’s R&B that the band loved. Yet, I have to give credit to Chris Chu and the band as their first single “Keep It For Your Own” from their upcoming self-titled POP ETC features that tender songwriting intact, with clever hooks and the catchy recording experimentation that made Big Echo such a fun album to listen to. It’s produced by Dangermouse and you can grab the track on iTunes
Vacationer’s debut LP Gone is aiming to be a great summer album right down to the Instagram friendly artwork. Yet what makes it more intriguing is its Generationals meets Pop Etc. (formerly The Morning Benders) sound, a sort of Con Law and Big Echo Part II if you will. On “Everybody Knows”, the album opener, the arrangement is chock full of summer pitched organs, warm guitar lines, vinyl atmosphere, and a hip-hop beat and vocals that veer from Vampire Weekend prep to surprising Beach Boys harmony. It’s not even far of a stretch to say that this could have been a single on The Avalanches’ Since I Left You album. Also check out the album’s title track “Gone” which builds off of some catchy percussion and features some blissful harmonies.