Blog-buzzed Real Estate proud of New Jersey roots
After the blog-based success of their 2009 self-titled debut, the members of Ridgewood, New Jersey’s Real Estate followed in the footsteps of so many of their indie-rock peers and relocated to Brooklyn. Although they now live in the hipster mecca of North America, however, the musicians still haven’t forgotten their roots.
“There’s a lot of bands that we know that are from New Jersey who would lie and say that they’re from New York,” reveals bassist Alex Bleeker, answering the phone from a tour stop in Bristol, U.K. “That’s sort of personally offensive to me. I think we feel this moral obligation to be like, ‘We’re from New Jersey.’ ”
Even though the region tends to be overshadowed by the nearby metropolises of New York and Philadelphia, Bleeker says that he and his bandmates are proud to act as unofficial ambassadors of the Garden State. “We represent New Jersey super-hard in everything that we do,” he asserts, “because New Jersey gets a really bad rap in the rest of the world.”
When Bleeker and his bandmates, who include frontman Martin Courtney and guitarist Matthew Mondanile, set about writing material for their sophomore album, they looked to their home state for inspiration. “There’s a sort of nostalgic quality to some of the lyrics and some of the melodies that are about the experience of coming of age and growing up,” the bassist notes, “and for us that took place in New Jersey.”
Sure enough, the recently released Days is packed with wistful odes to the peace and tranquility of a suburban childhood. On opener “Easy”, the band concocts a hazy swirl of chiming guitars while Courtney coos about “floating on an inner tube in the sun”. The Fleetwood Mac–tinged “Out of Tune” has a similarly narcotic effect, and it belies its title with a note-perfect blend of snaky lead licks and chilled-out rhythms.
These laid-back songs aren’t a huge departure from the jangle-pop sound that first earned Real Estate critical adoration in the wake of its debut LP. But despite the stylistic continuity, Bleeker notes that Days was created under very different circumstances than its predecessor. “We recorded it in a studio and it was a cohesive effort to put a record together, as opposed to the first album, which was recorded in a bunch of different places,” he reflects. “I think we have a more mature-sounding, more hi-fi, cohesive album.”
Now that Days is available everywhere, the band members are promoting it at a workaholic’s pace. They will be touring throughout North America and Europe for much of the remainder of 2011, and are planning to work on a new EP as soon as they get home. Meanwhile, Bleeker is prepping an album with his side project, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, while Mondanile will continue to release solo tunes as Ducktails. In other words, the musicians aren’t nearly as relaxed as their breezy music would suggest.
“I think we’re all a little bit more neurotic than people would believe,” admits Bleeker. “But we appreciate the laid-back, calm moments in life. Maybe it’s something we’re trying to capture with the music.”
Real Estate plays the Biltmore Cabaret on Tuesday (November 8).