Real Estate Is Going Back to Cali

Jersey Rockers Return to the West Coast, Prep Third Album

<b>EAST MEETS WEST:</b> New Jersey's Real Estate (from left: Alex Bleeker, Martin Courtney, and Matt Mondanile) head to Cali for a string of tour dates this week. They play SOhO Restaurant & Music Club on September 25.

JERSEY BOYS: Few bands capture a vibe quite the way Real Estate does. Since forming in 2009, the New Jersey trio-turned-quintet has capitalized on their suburban home base and crafted tunes and tones that speak directly to the highs and lows of life amid the sprawl. In turn, the band has gifted us with two shimmering LPs: 2009’s Real Estate and 2011’s Days. Both albums offer no shortage of vintage surf rock–inspired hooks, shimmering lo-fi guitar tones, and sweetly nostalgic lyrics, all delivered with a genuine reverence for the people and the streets that inspired them.

This week, Real Estate heads west for a set at the famed Big Sur music gathering known as Woodsist Fest. En route to and from, the guys will play a handful of SoCal venues, including our own SOhO Restaurant & Music Club on September 25. With them, they will bring new material off their forthcoming (and much anticipated) third album.

“We just finished mixing it, and it sounds done to me,” said Martin Courtney last week from his New Jersey home. Recorded in Chicago with an as-yet-unnamed producer, the album stands to further ingratiate Real Estate to the indie-rock masses. Both their debut and Days earned the coveted “Best New Music” title from Pitchfork, and in discussing the inspiration for LP #3, Courtney asserted that the record will continue to explore the sounds that have marked the band’s past outputs.

“There’s an ideal sound in my mind that we’re trying to achieve that’s pretty specific to us,” he said. “Production-wise, there are definitely some touchstones: late-’70s, really dead drum sounds are one of my favorite things. Other than that, I’ve been listening to a lot of Nick Drake — especially the full band arrangements on Pink Moon and stuff. I got pretty into a lot of mid-’70s singer/songwriter-type people, even Joni Mitchell and Tim Hardin.”

And while Courtney is hesitant to disclose too much about the record, he’s more than happy to talk about the band’s upcoming journey out west — and their big return to Woodsist.

“We’re really lucky to have gotten to play in Big Sur for the past three years in a row. We get to look forward to it almost like a tradition at this point,” he said. “The first time I ever went out to California, I was 15 or 16, and it was really special. And it’s still really special, but now we’ve got all our friends out there that we get to see.”

Real Estate plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) on Wednesday, September 25, at 8 p.m. Call (805) 962-7776 or visit for tickets and info.

GET YOUR VOTE ON: Today’s the day! From now through Thursday, September 26, at midnight, log on to and cast your vote for your favorite Santa Barbara band. The winner will move on to the finals round of our annual Downtown Sound Battle of the Bands at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (Oct. 4) alongside five hand-selected artists, where they’ll compete live onstage for a panel of industry judges, fans, friends, and family. Up for grabs for the winner: pro recording time at Playback Recording Studio, a slot at this year’s New Noise Music Festival & Conference, new instruments, gear, gift certificates — oh, and a profile in our upcoming Santa Barbara Music Issue. Want to check out the competition? Visit and peruse the competitors, as well as hundred of area music makers. Happy voting, music fans!


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