IN the first of my (ir)regular blogs about music, films, books, gaming and anything else I can think of, I am going to look at The Morning Benders' new album ‘Big Echo’.

This brilliantly monikered Californian four-piece has only just come on my radar, despite iTunes proclaiming their debut Talking Through Tin Cans as the best indie/alternative album of 2008.

Such are the perils of growing old - I am so out of touch these days.

Lead single 'Excuses' made me sit up and take notice, with its Phil Spector-esque drama, sweeping strings and a graceful melody that you cannot remove from your head no matter what.

Second track 'Promises' cemented my appreciation of them - the undeniable riff hits like a hammer and the gorgeous chorus ("I can't help thinking we grew up too fast") really captures the imagination.

Then the song’s psychedelic swirling Brian Wilson harmonies kick in to confirm that this is a band which is able to translate a myriad of ideas into memorable songs - something many talented groups fail to master.

And it gets better: ‘Cold War’ is a summer's day on the beach watching a surfing competition; ‘All Day Day Light’ - distorted handclaps and all - is a strut through town; ‘Stitches’ is like a morning meditation.

I can hear so many influences in here, including The (aforementioned) Beach Boys, Ride, The Shins, Dusty Springfield, Throwing Muses, The Breeders, Fleet Foxes and even fifties classic 'Mr Sandman' by The Four Aces.

But ultimately The Morning Benders have taken all these references and created their own style.

Three words: Buy. This. Album.