Release Date: Oct 18, 2011
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
Bringing to mind Johnny Marr's sparkling guitar work with the Smiths and the Kinks song that shares their LP's name, New Jersey's Real Estate unspool pretty reveries tinged with enough guilt and confusion to keep them honest. The music runs smooth like passenger-seat leather, with buttery harmonies, strummy melodies and warm-glow reverb softening all edges: When singer Martin Courtney mirrors the "in the sun" line from Nirvana's "All Apologies" on "Easy," it's like he's remembering a dream. The mood is summed up in the simple line "we've got a memory" – issued with a sigh, a jangling outro and probably a Valium.
For a mix of songs made at different times, Real Estate's self-titled 2009 debut was impressively consistent. Given how well the New Jersey band fused disparate moments, you had to figure they could reach even greater heights were they to craft their next set all at once. They did just that last winter, and the result is indeed a step forward. Cleaner, sharper, and just plain stronger, Days is like a single idea divided into simple statements-- a suite of subtle variations on a theme.
Even though their first record came out in a November, Real Estate’s shimmery haze feels ideally suited to the middle of July. Although album two, Days, drops this October, something sagacious about these tunes suggests that a rearview look at their prime might be entirely appropriate after all. From the excellent opener “Easy” to “Out of Tune”’s lackadaisical drift to the extended jam of “All the Same,” Days is a glorious exercise in group cohesion.
Shakespeare’s Juliet famously asked, “What’s in a name?” For a band, especially one named Real Estate, the answer is “Quite a lot.” Trying to break the indie music mold with a name tied to commercialism is like an aspiring Rabbi wearing a Mel Gibson t-shirt to synagogue. And yet, I must applaud the group for finding a moniker that subtly but sufficiently summarizes their sound. Bands, much to the chagrin of indie snobs everywhere, are businesses at a basic level: they manufacture and present a product for consumption.
Real Estate crystallize their entire attitude and approach in a single phrase off of Days: “I’m not OK, but I guess I’m doin’ fine.” This feeling of pleasant entrapment permeates the band’s second album from its sound down to its lyrical subjects. Working with producer Kevin McMahon, Real Estate give their music a coat of polish that makes their jangly guitars, sighing melodies, and complex harmonies glisten, but also smoothes off the edges and quirks that made their self-titled debut so appealing. Granted, the band’s charm was low-key in the first place, but this newfound sheen makes it easier for songs to drift into one ear and out the other without leaving much behind.
Things are looking pretty up and up for the New Jersey quartet that comprises Real Estate. Their 2009 eponymous album earned high praise, high enough to attract the attention of the fairly big name British independent label Domino Records, which is releasing the group’s sophomore effort Days. That’s a pretty big feat, considering that Domino has been responsible for unleashing buzz bands onto the world such as Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand.
Let's face it, of all the sun-drenched pop bands we were geeking out about in 2009, Real Estate was the best. The band's sound may have been as echoed and treble-driven as its comrades in sunscreen, but that eponymous debut was a statement, an album of nuance and subtle shifts in tone. If the band felt at first like a bunch of laid-back beach bums, their chops quickly convinced you they were something to take more seriously.
[a]Real Estate[/a]’s self-titled debut album, a badly mixed but charming portrait of suburban dreaming, fitted right into the emerging glo-fi of 2009. Two years, lots of touring, and a wad of cash from Domino Records later and the New Jersey four-piece have shaken off the sun-flecked dust of that haphazard genre to reveal a clean and canny record. On ‘[b]Days[/b]’, melodies sit above the muted chug of ‘[b]Green Aisles[/b]’ and the intricate guitars of ‘[b]It’s Real[/b]’.
What with all the hoopla around the Drums a couple of years ago, New Jersey's Real Estate have rather played the wallflowers at the 80s revival party. Not that they mind overmuch, judging by the sweet-natured dreaminess of their output. RE's self-titled 2009 debut introduced the band's hazy, Byrds-derived jangle; this second effort reimagines the bucolic pastorales of the 80s indie movement, given a Fleet Foxes skill set.
Real Estate's career follows an arc that's become increasingly common in the last few years: lo-fi debut builds buzz, band signs to bigger label, moves to Brooklyn and, with a suddenly inflated budget, repurposes the original aesthetic to accommodate higher recording values. That works out well for Real Estate, whose languid, carefree jangle-pop benefits from the brighter, cleaner production on their sophomore LP, but it also exposes their weakness as songwriters. Their unfussy beach-pop remains pristinely pleasant, but over the course of 41 minutes, it starts to blend into one unending mid-tempo mishmash.
The first thing that strikes you about Days, the second album from Brooklyn-via-New-Jersey trio Real Estate, is its golden warmth. This seems to be a record drenched in sunshine – literally so on bucolic opening track Easy, where singer Martin Courtney recalls running through fields feeling "love for everyone", his soft voice hazy amid beaming guitars. Kinder Blumen is similarly joyful, its buoyant riff suggestive of paddling in the sea and larking in the park.
The problem with chillwave is that it’s just too chilled. No matter what those hipster kids claim, there are really only so many languid melodies one set of lugholes can take before fingers itchily reach for the off switch. And it’s this inability to surprise, to rouse for the jugular in a moment of out-of-step awe, that will render it another transient genre that passes quicker than a Usain Bolt bowel movement.
Debuting in 2009, Brooklyn-by-way-of-New-Jersey psychedelic surf-pop band Real Estate garnered attention with a simple sound of a decidedly retro vintage. Now, some two years later, the band returns with their sophomore album, Days, produced by Kevin McMahon (Titus Andronicus, The Walkmen) in the less than tropical locale of upstate New York. The resulting 10-track effort is still Real Estate, for better or for worse.
There’s always a little bit of desire in the way one feels after taking an album in for the first time. On their self-titled debut Real Estate ensured that music could be both melodically-strong while still maintaining an air of dreamy escape. The desire left behind was the calling for a refined, muscular sound and with Days, the band delivers. Desire to improve is hard to find but with Real Estate, there is no doubt that music will continue to amaze for quite some time now.
REAL ESTATE “Days” (Domino) Bucolic vibes permeate “Days,” the second Real Estate album, as mindful of nature as any album this side of an ocean-sounds compilation. “Around the fields we’d run, with love for everyone,” Martin Courtney sings on “Easy,” the album opener. On “Green Aisles” the scene unfolds “under dormant trees, under bright lit skies/Mountains of maple leaves standing side by side.” The clincher comes on “It’s Real”: “I carved our names into a tree/I walked on decomposing leaves.” This isn’t roughing it; this is the nature of backyards and sprawl and lethargy, which was also the stuff of Real Estate’s self-titled 2009 debut album.