At present, it's hard to ignore the brash, homegrown movement that's descending from the punkier ranks of independent rock. Bands like No Age, Jay Reatard, Times New Viking, and Wavves are all playing a part in providing a loose and lackadaisical canon...one that adopts lo-fi technique and hastily captured recordings as it's trusted fundamentals. Though designed to capture the immediacy and energy of a livelier, stage ready sound, it's an approach that unsurprisingly polarizes as many music fans as it converts, this one included.
Which I suppose is what makes the debut disk from suburban New Jersey's Real Estate so damn interesting. Theirs' is an album of ten "down the shore" ready cuts that, while crafted in the familiar antiquated ways of punk, employs an easy-breezy touch and a wholly sunnier disposition altogether. Where cheap distortion and screechy vocal work typify the aforementioned, Real Estate stir gooey instrumentals like "Atlantic City" and" Let's Rock the Beach" in bubbly vats of reverb and delay, toning down aggression, and letting crisp, chiming guitars lead the way. And oh do they ever lead the way. "Fake Blues" comes so ripe in dewy fret work listeners may very well confuse the cold, winter rain for a summer sop of sweat tickling down the brow. What pesky little teases Real Estate are...
There's also something to be said for front man Martin Courtney's role at the helm of the quartet. Yes, at times he's severely blanketed by the mix, strung up by all the twisting and tangling going on around him. But his understated vocals provide important hooks along the way, and hell...we could all stand to take a little something away from "Beach Comber"; a cautionary tale about someone who just can't ever seem to enjoy the beauty of the present moment ("Until you find your Rolex in the sand you won't be stopping/Until that solid gold is in your hand you won't be happy").
If all this sounds a little ill-timed for the coming winter, that's because it is. Wrangling the kind of good vibes that conjure steamy images of golden glazed sun spots in the eyes and aqua green sea foam splashing on the toes, the band may have missed their timing on this release. So, I prefer to think of it as a winter survival album; a reminder of what awaits us all on the other side of the coming deep freeze, courtesy of New Jersey's ambassadors for a kinder, gentler side of no-fi. - David Pitz
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MP3: Real Estate:: "Beach Comber" - Real Estate
Real Estate on Myspace