Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Woodsist
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Folk
“Strangers on this train who can explain the way we feel/Don’t look back at me now,” pleads New Jersey native Alex Bleeker on “Don’t Look Down. ” This immediate and existential sense of sheer aloneness, self-consciousness and longing (reminiscent of a Dionne Warwick tune) plagues the Real Estate bassist throughout the entirety of How Far Away, his sophomore release with a band of self-described “Freaks. ” While the emotional and lyrical tone of the album follows the aftermath of a life-altering breakup and the numbness that follows such a separation, Bleeker brilliantly masks the fact that his stability has gone adrift with the perfect blend of peppy tempos, airy harmonies, dream-like slide guitar and essential Hammond organ.
As of late, break-up records have become more self-aware, less inclined towards notions of self-pity and more of an invitation to share stories about how one grows from the fairly universal experience of relationships ending. Within the past year or so, artists like Jens Lekman and Christopher Owens have offered brutally honest and invitational couplets like, "I started working out when we broke up" and "If you're heart is broken, you will find fellowship with me" on their respective break-up releases. In keeping with this ongoing evolution, Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker offers his take on the break-up album on sophomore effort How Far Away.
Complication? Not really Alex Bleeker's thing. How Far Away is the latest from the Real Estate bassist's other band, the Freaks, a rotating batch of well-wishers that includes Woods' Jarvis Tanviere, Amelia Meath of Mountain Man, and Real Estate's own Jackson Pollis. Like its self-titled predecessor, How Far Away is another set of warm, wistful country-tinged rock, somewhere in the neighborhood of the Grateful Dead's American Beauty or maybe Neil Young's Old Ways: unfussily arranged, uninterested in wasting a lot of time.
When Alex Bleeker isn’t playing bass for his main band, Real Estate, he records his own songs as Alex Bleeker and the Freaks. The Freaks consist of a rotating cast of band mates, including at times other members of Real Estate, and mainly serve to accentuate the songs Bleeker writes. He traffics in the same type of mellow indie rock that Real Estate does but with a rootsier sound; the songs are more Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills, and Nash than Yo La Tengo and the Feelies.
When he’s on a break from his day job as bassist for perpetually chill Jersey rockers Real Estate, Alex Bleeker records with his group of Freaks, a rotating collection of friends and fellow musicians, and makes equally laid back jangle pop filtered through hazy summer air and leisurely Sunday afternoons. On How Far Away, his second LP, Bleeker enlists the likes of Mountain Man’s Amelia Meath, Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere, and Big Troubles’ Sam Franklin, among others. The result is a breakup record of sorts; Bleeker provides a mixed bag of inward facing tracks dealing with the dissolution of a relationship and wonders what the hell he should do next.
While New Jersey indie rockers Real Estate have crafted critically acclaimed albums worthy of their wide-eyed and wistful pop, bandmembers have stayed busy with various side projects as outlets for their restless songwriting. While guitarist Matt Mondanile has explored both syrupy experimental jamming and cold synth pop with his Ducktails project, bassist Alex Bleeker stays closer to the rock roots of his main band, but calls on understated elements of jam band and traditional country motifs with Alex Bleeker & the Freaks. Backed ably by a rotating cast of Freaks (this time around including members of Woods, Big Troubles, Mountain Man, and many others), Bleeker uses the project as a showcase for his tunes, with How Far Away arriving as the bittersweet, softly lovelorn follow-up to his 2009 self-titled debut.