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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stay with me, All will be revealed...
You know I like apathy, discontent, and an overall general malaise in my art fix like the next guy. And a bit of snarky condescension always makes a song go down a bit rougher, yet satisfyingly cold as well. I mean really, wouldn't you rather have disconnected sarcasm permeating the tunes you pump into your earholes through those tiny earbuds instead of honesty? Really...
Published 6 months ago by J. Hubner

versus
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hyped Follow Up to "Days" Leaves Me Wanting More
Have these guys grown as musicians and lyricists since the release of their seminal sophmore album "Days?" Sure, I think that's undeniable. Yet I cannot escape the fact that really nothing sucks me in and captivates me the way "Easy" does right off the bat on their prior album.

There are good tracks here to be sure, chiefly "Talking...
Published 5 months ago by Chris R.


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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stay with me, All will be revealed..., March 7, 2014
This review is from: Atlas (Audio CD)
You know I like apathy, discontent, and an overall general malaise in my art fix like the next guy. And a bit of snarky condescension always makes a song go down a bit rougher, yet satisfyingly cold as well. I mean really, wouldn't you rather have disconnected sarcasm permeating the tunes you pump into your earholes through those tiny earbuds instead of honesty? Really? You would? Oh, okay. Then you might want to do something else for the rest of this review. You see, I've listened to Real Estate's new album Atlas several times this week. I've spun it on the turntable every night. My son has played with the dog in the living room to it, flipping the record himself so he could keep that jangly soundtrack to the everyday things we take for granted spinning. I've listened to "April's Song" as I cooked dinner more times than I'd like to say. "Had To Hear" has been the backdrop of more than one conversation about how the work day went and what homework was left to do. "Talking Backwards" has been marveled at on both my rocker/recliner and sectional couch. What I'm saying here is that Atlas is an album that's already "lived-in". It's one of those albums that's like some amazing old corduroy blazer you find at the Salvation Army that you can feel the history it's seen. Real Estate have made an album that needs no preparation before putting it on. It's an old friend that never needs warming up to. Atlas is one of the breeziest, laid back, and effortlessly beautiful albums you'll likely hear this year.

Martin Courtney has a voice that is simple and plainspoken. He delivers lyrics about longing, lamenting yesterday, and being content with today as if he's in conversation with an old friend. There's no melodramatic delivery. Just a sligthly stoned sleepiness that comes with long drives back home for holiday or staying up till 2am drinking coffee with a long lost friend in a 24 hour diner down by the piers. Matt Mondanile has turned his crystalline jangly guitar work into a true art form. There's nothing flashy about what he does, yet there's something almost transcendent in the lines he plays on "Crime", and the country-ish sway of "Primitive". Alex Bleeker adds an almost orchestral touch to his rolling bass lines. Both reminiscent of Nashville swing and Philly soul. Jackson Pollis lays a steady beat throughout Atlas and newest member Matt Kallman fills the already lush sound with keys. With this lineup Real Estate has become this very tight band that shows some road worn muscle on this album. There aren't any major changes in sound and style from 2011s excellent Days; just a honed-in concentration with the songs. The tunes are as long as they need to be. Nothing more or nothing less. And the songs are the best these New Jersey guys have penned. It helps that both Mondanile and Bleeker both have their own musical projects outside the Real Estate fold. I think this allows the band to concentrate solely on Real Estate, and not a "who gets what credit" sort of ego trip. So songs like "The Bend", "Horizon", "How I Might Live", and "Navigator" can be as simple yet perfect as they can be.

With bands like Real Estate where members have other things going on outside the band I get worried that those other projects will take precedent over the main gig. And especially with Real Estate I worry an album like Atlas could be their last. I wonder to myself how they can do better than this jangly little wonder of an album? I mean, if you were gonna call it quits this would be the album you'd want people to remember you for.

It's perfect. In every way.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where The Pavement Ends, March 4, 2014
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This review is from: Atlas (Audio CD)
Anyone familiar with Real Estate's sound should know what to expect: jangly guitars, smooth mid-range vocals, and lyrics that resonate a pining for a simpler life. With Atlas, Real Estate pick up where they left off with Days but this time the themes are explored more deeply. With Martin Courtney now married, the focus on Atlas shifts slightly from Real Estate's past repertoire; on this record, Martin and the band are very much rooted in the present.

Had To Hear – A nice little lead riff leads in a song that recalls the debut album but through the clean production lens of Days. This track sets the tone for the rest of the album.

Past Lives - Arguably the most Yo La Tengo-esque track on the album, a warm 70's keyboard and ride cymbal keep tempo as Martin laments over memories of the long-lost suburbs, in keeping with Real Estate tradition.

Talking Backwards - It's obvious why this song was chosen as the single. The fastest, most uptempo track of the bunch, Talking Backwards is an instant classic and shows how much the band has grown in the last year.

April's Song - An instrumental that sounds like montage music for a bunch of people having a good time on a road trip. This song will find its place on many mix CDs to come. Blissful, hazy perfection.

The Bend - The background sounds like a chorus of crickets giving this track major nighttime vibes. Easily the most introspective track on the album.

Crime - Reminiscent of that early-90's hit "Big Me" by Foo Fighters. Intricate riffs and pleasant echoey chords abound. Long live the electric guitar.

Primitive – This song could very possibly be the next single. A bit more melancholy than their usual fare but when the chorus rolls around, it's such a sweet relief.

How Might I Live - Was this song recorded in 1972? Everything about this song smacks of the era's nature-obsessed folk rock (in the best way possible, of course) with Bleeker's twangy voice taking center stage.

Horizon – Fresh off the down-South folkiness of the last track, Horizon retains a very western folk guitar and bass interplay that complement the vocals nicely with pastoral lyrics that tie the whole thing together.

Navigator - The chorus breathes and really let's the lyrics sink in. The tableau is one of minute beauty. "Cross the kitchen floor / steal out the back door / past the monument / I'll meet you where the pavement ends." Like a short story by Raymond Carver, this song isn't so much about what is said but rather what has been left unsaid.

Despite the fact that Real Estate's guitar playing will always sound wistful and classic in a way very few bands can pull off, Atlas seems to shy away from the overtly nostalgic intentions of Days, instead focusing on a new chapter of life; one fraught with miscommunication (Talking Backwards), occasional regression (Past Lives), and reluctantly forging a path into adulthood (Crime). As Real Estate continues to hone in on their sound, the production only grows more lush and the songs more meaningful. We'll be hearing from the guys for a long, long time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atlas...an indie rock experience, March 6, 2014
This review is from: Atlas (Audio CD)
I've been soul searching for a month looking for good records which is hard to come by these days, but here comes "Real Estate" with their album called "Atlas" another fine summer tunes (even though it's not yet) since "All Your Summer Songs" by Saturday Looks Good to Me, "Album" by the Girls or "Fleet Foxes" by the Fleet Foxes. To be honest this is the first time I heard about Real Estate and oh boy.. they are a wonderful band. They experiment sounds weird enough to be catchy. There is a certain nostalgia in their songs especially the track "Taking Backwards" reminds me of psychedelic tunes by "The Faces" This album is lit with too much sunshine it spills on my waiting ears, it's also uplifting perfect after you listen one of those Marilyn Manson albums. After all this kind of album makes the music alive nowadays.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Estate LP that invites you to really "listen", April 14, 2014
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This review is from: Atlas (Vinyl)
I bought Atlas on a whim, after hearing killer first single "Talking Backwards" incessantly upon release. Before my vinyl copy arrived, though, I managed to listen to the full album on Youtube -- an experience that got me thinking whether I've made the right decision or not. For one, there's the lack of upbeat pop songs. "Talking Backwards" aside, there's nothing like "It's Real" or "Easy" here, no tunes that will immediately catch your attention. And there's that feeling of melancholy that permeates most of the music and lyrics -- as if leader Martin Courtney has decided to make an album with "Green Aisles" as its main template.

But then I realized that this might not be a bad thing after all. I have to admit that I got bored with "It's Real" and "Easy" fairly quickly, while "Green Aisles" (and other mid-tempo, lyrically-reflective numbers on second album Days) managed to stick around on my playlist longer and eventually became the songs that define that album for me. The good news is -- while mid-tempo seems to be the order of the day -- I found out that, upon further listens, Courtney actually managed to crank up his songwriting skills a couple of notches. Just because most of the songs aren't upbeat doesn't mean they're no longer pop songs. The hooks are there, you just have to really listen before -- in Courtney's own words -- "all will be revealed".

And "listen" becomes another keyword in describing my Atlas experience. Real Estate has never sounded so pristine, so crisp and so clear than they are in this album. (A note to the sceptic: "pristine" doesn't necessarily equal "polished".) This enables me to listen -- and, in turn, appreciate -- sonic details like Alex Bleeker's melodic basslines, drummer Jackson Pollis' subtle yet addictive cymbal hits, and, more importantly since we're reviewing a guitar pop album, the interplay between Courtney's rhythm guitar and Matt Mondanile's leads (which reminds me a lot of the twin jangle cranked out by guitarists Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte on Morrissey's Vauxhall & I LP). So yeah, thumbs up must also be given to producer/engineer Tom Schick (Wilco) for all this aural bliss.

A couple of words on the vinyl version: it's great! Pressed on high quality 180 gram vinyl, with excellent separation between instruments (Atlas is of those few guitar-driven albums that actually sounds great on headphones) and no audible surface noise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creative Apex, April 7, 2014
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This review is from: Atlas (Audio CD)
Bands usually have a creative arc, starting tentatively and building confidence until reaching a creative climax. Real Estate is following that path. Showing great promise on Days with moments of shear genius like "Green Aisles", they've finally put it all together on their third record, Atlas. A casual listen might lead you to think this to be background music, but the songs are deceptive in their simplicity. Highlights include the opening song "Had to Hear", the incredibly catchy "Crime" and the closing "Navigator", but it's hard to find a song you won't want to put on repeat for an hour. Beautiful and captivating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melodoc Jangling Guitars and Perfect Mix, March 16, 2014
This review is from: Atlas (Audio CD)
Listening to Atlas, which I like better than their very good previous album, I thought of the amazing mixing job Stephen Street did on Morrissey's Viva Hate. The melodic guitars on Atlas are complemented by a very nice mix, which results in a fine, soothing ambient landscape.

I like all the songs except two, tracks 8 and 9, which leave me lukewarm. But overall this is an A album. All the songs seem cut from the same fabric.

If you like this jangling guitar sound, you might check out the Trashcan Sinatras' Cake and I've Seen Everything albums and The Sundays' Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Lp, May 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Atlas (Vinyl)
This is a great, great album. The vinyl pressing is very nice. It is flat, silent and mastered properly. The music takes me back to Lloyd Cole, early REM, Felt, and the Stone Roses. Needless to say you will really enjoy this album.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but the singer sounds flat on occasion, March 18, 2014
This review is from: Atlas (MP3 Music)
I really love all of these tracks, including the singing. But on a couple of tracks he sings intermittently flat. Perhaps that is an affect the singer is aiming for -- but to me at least -- it comes off as jarring. You'll most likely hear it at the end of a line, as with the chorus in the fantastic track "Primitive." The melodic guitar work is some of the best I have heard this year from any band. Drums are varied and vibrant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Estate - Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine, March 4, 2014
This review is from: Atlas (Audio CD)
The only way to describe the new album by New Jersey stalwarts "Real Estate" is to echo the title of a sadly forgotten album by the Scottish band the Cosmic Rough Riders. Indeed their opus "Enjoy the Melodic Sunshine" has some similarities with "Atlas" since it often drew copious comparisons with bands like the Byrds, REM, Teenage Fanclub and the Jayhawks which are shared reference points for Real Estate. This album is essentially a blast of warm colour into a winter characterised by black sheets of rain. It is not a difficult listen by any standards, but there is real depth to be located in its grooves. It is safe to say that by the third listen "Atlas" will be a really good familiar old friend, one which you will turn to when you are confused for choice and you when you desire a reliable set of heartwarming shimmering pop rock headed up with with a capital "Q" for quality.

Things start well on "Atlas" and get better. Indeed this reviewer has had to be dragged screaming from playing the first three tracks on repeat. The lovely opener "Had to Hear" jingles and jangles with Gene Clark like chords and a melody to kill for. It is splendidly bettered by the forlorn "Past Lives" destined to be the soundtrack as the dying embers of a summer barbecue fade into a dark night sky. Best of all is the joyous single "Talking Backwards" where the mix of Martin Courtney's bittersweet vocals and the flowing guitar lines of Matt Mondanile's pulsating guitar melodies reach a true synthesis. The joyful instrumental "April Song" reinforces this but the clinchers come later with the brilliant chiming chords of "Primitive" which is the best Norman Blake song he never wrote; concluding with a nice guitar workout to seal the deal. This blissed out state concludes with "Navigator" a melancholy ode to the way that time passes and defeats us.

Ultimately you know what you get with this band. It may be that a "Real Estate plays Death Metal" album might be lurking in the depth of some unlikely recording vault, yet for now "Atlas" comfortably surpasses any of the bands previous two efforts and if their sin is "predictability" then their massive strength is great songwriting and the best ear for melody this side of Michael Stipe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fragile, dreamy, echoic indie guitar pop, March 13, 2014
This review is from: Atlas (Audio CD)
3rd album from New Jersey band—fragile, dreamy, echoic indie guitar pop that sparkles like the
rich, glowing kindle-ember of an eternal, meditative flame. “Atlas” is a lambent basket of
melodies to lull the listener into a bliss-state of shivery-warm, relaxing low-key passion. The
songs carry a consistent, mellifluous charm that’s more about the overall atmosphere of the
album than the distinctiveness of each individual melody. They emanate the kind of soft beauty
that could free-flow through the auditory center of your brain forever on a mesmerizingly infinite
journey. This is music befitting a glass of fine wine and a knowing, winsome smile with a sigh of
comfort. Recalls bands like Felt, Widowspeak, Wild Nothing, Luna, Tranquility, Beach House,
Orange Juice. Gloriously rich and exceptionally pretty songs which might put you to sleep, but
you’ll have happy dreams.
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Atlas
Atlas by Real Estate (Audio CD - 2014)
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