Morning Benders in a Golden State of mind
Few places inspire musical pride quite the same way that California does, and it’s been an especially memorable year for indie-rock bands paying tribute to their home state. Best Coast made an entire album full of sun-and-sand sentiments lifted from a “Greetings From Los Angeles’’ postcard circa 1966. And the country-rockers of Dawes conjured the twilight glow of summer nights spent in Laurel Canyon.
Meanwhile, the Morning Benders are keen purveyors of classic ’60s songcraft, often resurrecting the sumptuous harmonies and melodicism of the Beach Boys. At the Paradise Rock Club on Tuesday night, lead singer and guitarist Christopher Chu made an announcement early on. “We come from California,’’ he said. “Kind of far from here.’’
It was a distinction that was already apparent in the jangly and heavily reverbed guitars that, oddly, sounded both sunny and submerged.
The Morning Benders have been kicking around since 2006, but they’ve found a widespread audience just this year based on the strength of their sophomore full-length, “Big Echo.’’ The band dug into most of that album at the Paradise, imbuing its songs (“Cold War,’’ “Promises’’) with an urgency clearly intended for dancing. Slow as molasses and just as heady, “Stitches’’ was more pensive, shifting from a churning ballad into a volcanic climax with guitars, bass, and drum all locked into a cacophony of distortion.
Chu enlisted the crowd for backup on “Excuses,’’ stretching the ballad into six glorious minutes with the men and women splitting the harmonies. It turned out Chu’s default setting was affable. Fielding a request for “Lovefool,’’ the Cardigans hit the band lovingly covered a few years ago, Chu admitted he can never remember the lyrics. Instead, he offered an affectionate rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.’’ And when a technician darted onstage to fix a glitch, Chu launched into Sublime’s “Garden Grove,’’ just long enough to ignite a singalong and plenty of smiles.
Twin Sister, in the second opening slot, worked its own gloomy charm with a set that flitted in and out of genres and eras — synth-pop partiers one minute (a cover of La Bionda’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover’’) and hazy Cocteau Twins disciples the next (“Lady Daydream’’).
James Reed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.