Real Estate hits home with “Atlas”

Real Estate from Ridgewood, N.J. (Courtsey of the band/ Shawn Brackbill)
Real Estate from Ridgewood, N.J. (Courtsey of the band/ Shawn Brackbill)

Why can’t it feel like summer? I’m not just longing for beautiful weather and endless days spent wandering the miles of New Jersey shoreline. “Atlas,” the latest release by Real Estate, has given me a new perspective on summer fun. As I waded into immersive sound that comprises the third album by the band that hails from Ridgewood N.J. I found myself seeing the entire world through the warmth of summer’s glow.

Real Estate has a modern rock ‘n’ roll sound. Leading off with a sultry and bluesy guitar intro, “The Bend” is among the best songs on the album and features some of the best guitar work including a very Zepplin-esk outro. One of my favorite aspects of this album is the jammy riffs that are prominent throughout the 10 tracks here and is a signature of band.

The chunky and methodical baseline that opens “Past Lives” sets the scene for the story a young man returning home and seeing how everything has changed by staying the same. On it, Martin Courtney sings, “This is not the same place I used to know/ but it still has that same old sound/but even this lights on the lights on this yellow road/are the same as they were when it was our hometown”

Courtney is joined on this album by guitarist Matt Mondanile bassist and singer Alex Bleeker drummer Jackson Pollis and Matt Kallman on keyboard. For having a summer sound, the album was recorded under the guidance of producer at Wilco’s recording studio The Loft in Chicago and was released March 4 on Domino Records.

The standout track on this album “Talking Backwards,” is one my favorite songs of the year. It just oozes sounds of The Beach Boys and sounds like like most songs on “Atlas,” sounds like a retro filter on an Instagram photo. I especially enjoy the song’s tender ending: “The only thing that really matters/is the one thing I can’t seem/ to make sense of this dream/ its the one thing I can’t seem to do.”

"Atlas" by Real Estate features artwork from Alexander's Mural, by Stefan Knapp.
“Atlas” by Real Estate features artwork from Alexander’s Mural, by Stefan Knapp.

The instrumental track “April’s Song” has captivated my attention even on subsequent listens. It’s an awesome addition and considering the band recorded 19 tracks in a two-week collaborative session.

Even songs that I’m not really fond of in the beginning win me over by the end, typically after a nearly flawless jam, like “Crime.” These youthful sounds are inspiring in their approach to the craft and I love the refrain: “I don’t want to die/lonely and uptight/stay with me.”

Although the band’s New Jersey style rings true with me, it’s the attention to detail on “Atlas” that has impressed me the most. Even the album’s cover art is taken from Alexander’s Mural, a North Jersey landmark painted by artist Stefan Knapp on the side of Alexander¹s department store in Paramus, N.J., not far from the band’s hometown.

The band is sure to play before an enthusiastic, hometown crowd when Real Estate performs with Pure X and Francisco Franco 8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia. See here for tickets.

The band performed its entire album for NPR First Listen, see the performance here.

Purchase “Atlas” on iTunesAmazon, or from Domino Records. Stream the album for free on Spotify or click the tracks below.

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