Song of the Week – Had to Hear, Real Estate


One of my favorite albums of 2014 (so far) is Atlas by Real Estate. The 5 piece band was formed in New Jersey in 2008, but is now based in the latest hipster, indie rock mecca, Brooklyn.

The first single from the album was “Talking Backwards” but today’s SotW is the record’s opener – “Had to Hear.”

The most prominent feature of the song, obvious right out of the gate in its intro, is the jangly guitar strumming of vocalist/songwriter Martin Courtney and the simple, shimmering lead fills by Matt Mondanile. REM took it from the Byrds into the 80s and Real Estate has nudged it a little farther into the 21st century.

This music evokes a rural southern longing (though the band doesn’t have southern roots). It ambles along — steady rhythm, precisely arranged and played with mellow, intimate, softly sung vocals. If you like The Shins you’ll probably like Real Estate.

I had to hear you just to feel near you

I don’t need the horizon to tell me where the sky ends
It’s a subtle landscape where I come from

Courtney seems to be using the metaphor of physical distance to deny the need to hear his lover’s voice.

This is a lovely album of Americana. Other songs worth hearing are “Past Lives”, “The Bend”, “Crime”, “Horizon” and the instrumental “April’s Song” (which sounds a little to me like Human Sexual Response’s “Andy Fell”). Check out the whole record on Spotify. You won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy… until next week.

2 thoughts on “Song of the Week – Had to Hear, Real Estate

  1. I like this while I listen, Tom. It’s clean and not simple, but agreeable. And also a little complex.

    But then I try to figure out what it adds to the ongoing story. I’m sure I would like these kids, but if you don’t advance the art, what is the art?

    The funny thing is I think Fu Manchu advances the art.

  2. This is a good album much like their previous album Days. Is it advancing the art if they are not trying to be ambitious and it succeeds? I don’t know. Maybe musically they are not advancing much sounding like Fables era REM but the lyrics especially on Atlas have a nice depth to them that you don’t see very often these days. Had To Hear is the one I keep pushing the repeat button on.

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