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Friday September 19th 2014

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Ears & Fingers 3/6/14


By Jason Leger

Real Estate-Atlas
I’m a firm believer in always finding music to fit one’s surroundings, circumstances or mood. Last year, I called Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” the album of the summer because it was infectious and smooth, and seemed the perfect backdrop to partying at the beach. While I know we are just entering spring, Real Estate’s new album, “Atlas,” has me longing to sit on the shore and stare at the waves. This isn’t surprising, as the first single I ever heard from Real Estate five years ago caught me with the words “you’re walking down that Pensacola Beach”.
“Atlas” is the band’s third full-length album, and it shows them at a very mature stage in their development. Their self-titled debut and 2011’s “Days” were growing phases for the band and have led them very sanctimoniously to where they are today. Discordant guitar layered with breezy, single note leads backed up with simple, yet flavorful rhythms define the niche Real Estate has carved out for themselves, and “Atlas” is a masterpiece in this vein. Lead single “Talking Backwards” was released back in January, and the effervescence in the music along with the sarcasm in the lyrics wrapped me up immediately. This music just makes me feel good—that’s all there is to it. It doesn’t matter how morose the lyrics may come across or how laid back the music is, it is impossible for me to listen to Real Estate without a spike in my mood. I highly recommend this album to you, as I think this feeling to be universal, and I strongly suggest taking Real Estate along on your first beach trip of 2014. “Atlas” is out now via Domino Records.

The War on Drugs-Lost in the Dream
We all have make or break moments in our lives. Be it a big job interview, marriage proposal or simply expressing our feelings to someone we admire, our integrity and self-worth have to be put on the line sometimes. It’s the same for bands hoping for exposure in the overly saturated market of modern music. Bands can work their entire lives and exist under the radar, or they can build something from nothing over time and catch the attention of a broad audience, a la The National or Modest Mouse. Adam Granduciel and his brainchild, The War on Drugs, have been doing the latter. Building on a modest following and putting out solid material for the better part of a decade, now is the time for people to take note.
“Lost in the Dream” is the band’s third full-length album and the follow up to 2011’s powerful “Slave Ambient.” Granduciel spent his time writing and touring, and has only become a more refined and direct songwriter. I realize that a term like ‘direct’ may seem a tad misguided when it comes to Granduciel’s style of hazy Americana, but this record is quite cogent and Granduciel’s most well envisioned statement yet.
If you need help connecting, I would direct you to the album’s lead single, “Red Eyes,” for understanding. This track is catchy as hell and more accessible than much of what we’ve heard in the past from the band, but it also embodies the band’s particular style and stays true to the vision. This is also the case for the album as a whole. The band moves forward without breaking character. For The War on Drugs, the make or break moment is right now, and they have more than met us halfway. “Lost in the Dream” is out now via Secretly Canadian Records.