We’re psyched to welcome Real Estate bassist and his band of Freaks back to Toronto on April 29 at the Silver Dollar. The night will also feature performances by The Auras and Tess Parks & the Good People along with Dog Gone DJs. Ticket information will be posted next week. As usual, we’ll also be giving away a few pairs of tickets so be sure to follow along on the Twitter and the Facebook.
Greetings, friends! It is a great honor to once again present to you the lineup for our third annual run of year-end late-shows taking place once at Mercury Lounge in New York City. This year on December 29 we’re psyched to present the combination of Invisible Familiars (essentially the band behind Sean Lennon’s The Ghost of a Sabertooth Tiger) along with Frank LoCastro. The following night on December 30, we’ll welcome back Real Estate side-project Alex Bleeker and the Freaks for their second year in a row. Supporting the Freaks will be Shorts, one of our favorite new acts on the scene which features current and former members of Woodsman and Real Estate. Both shows kick off around 11PM and will feature Dog Gone Presents and guest DJ sets to be announced in the coming weeks.
Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 12PM Eastern Time via the Mercury Lounge website. Previous years have sold-out so be sure to get your tickets in advance to avoid missing out.
Last week, the Fader premiered the latest video from Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker and his band of Freaks. Set to the lyrically revealing “Step Right Up,” the video was filmed on location at a Phish concert on their 2013 Summer Tour (can you tell which venue?). About the location choice, Bleeker says “It is my opinion that Phish has the most enthusiastic concert-going music fans in the world. The choice to shoot this video in the parking lot of one of their shows this summer was simple. This was the only large crowd I could think of that would lovingly embrace and interact with a man in an antler helmet without a moment’s pause. ” “Step Right Up” comes off Alex Bleeker & the Freaks 2013 release How Far Away,available via the good folks atWoodsist.
Catch Alex Bleeker and the Freaks live when they perform our post-Phish late-show at Mercury Lounge on December 30.
Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker, who is playing our show tonight at the Comfort Zone in Toronto with his band of freaks, has kindly shared a selection of jams that he’s currently been digging. His new album How Far Away is out now via Woodsist. Catch him tonight along with Moves and Bonnie Trash. 9PM.
Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile returns to his childhood neighborhood of Ridgewood, NJ in the video for “Under Cover,” featured on his latest album The Flower Lane. Our sources tell us that Mr. Mondanile is currently taking some time away from Brooklyn to work on more solo recordings and revisit his sense of boyish wonderment. Members of the extended Real Estate family appear in the video, which seems like a rational cost-saving decision on their part. The Felt connection is more prominent than ever on this one.
Adding pedal steel to a track almost always makes things sound better. This track is no exception. “Leave on the Light” is Bleeker & co.’ first true foray into alt-country domain, although they’ve beat around the metaphorical bush for quite some time, and it’s a doozy. As Bleeker tells us, “the name is sort of a pun, a tribute to Levon Helm.”
The song comes from their new LP “How Far Away” out May 28, 2013 on Woodsist.
While Alex Bleeker spends his days as the bassist in popular indie rock band Real Estate, he also moonlights as the guitarist and frontman in his own band, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, which takes more from Crazy Horse, the Grateful Dead and Little Wings than The Feelies or Yo La Tengo. Over the past several years, Bleeker has performed sporadic shows in New York and Brooklyn either solo or with a rotating cast of musicians that has, at times, included members of Real Estate. During that time he also released a 7″ and an EP on Underwater Peoples, and will now release his debut full-length, titled How Far Away, on Woodsist in the Spring of this year. Stream “Don’t Look Down,” the lead track on the album, below.
The following is a list of albums that we found to be particularly engaging this year.
The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient [Secretly Canadian]
After The War on Drugs released their debut LP, Wagonwheel Blues, in 2008, lead Druggie Adam Granduciel retired to his Philly home to experiment with samples and recording techniques. Several years later, that process spawned Slave Ambient, which combines a distinctive blend of psychedelic Americana guitar rock with celestial ambient textures that flow throughout the album in a droning undercurrent. While many bands have struggled to bring their experimental side into the studio setting, The Drugs have done exactly that with Slave Ambient. On tracks like the sprawling ambient outro “The Animator,” this experimental side comes into full view and hints at the complexity involved in the sonic layering within these songs.
“Come To The City”
Woods – Sun & Shade [Woodsist]
With each new release, Woods continue to evolve and impress. As with 2009’s Songs of Shame and 2010’s At Echo Lake, the group continues their trajectory toward a more song-oriented approach on their sixth LP, while still encompassing their creep side through extended jams like the nod to Neu!’s Hallogallo, “Out of the Eye” and spiritual sound quests like “Sol y Sombra.” Lead singer Jeremy Earl’s falsetto tone sounds slightly more polished, however, his Shagg’s style guitar work is still delectably off-kilter. This release shows major step in the group’s songwriting abilities, with many of the songs ranking alongside their best.
“Any Other Day”
Pure X – Pleasure [Acephale]
The debut full length release from Austin’s Pure X has made a profound effect on me throughout the year. You know how, sometimes, upon first hearing an album, it forever reminds you of that period of time? Well, for me, that’s the case with this one and last Winter. I played it endlessly and with each listen I discovered something new. Every one of the stoned-out songs is a sprawling trip through through mimimalist, seemingly-nonexistent melodies that thrive on the textured reverb-drenched squalls of sound as well as singer Nate Grace’s nuanced vocal approach. It’s a listening experience that requires headphones and a ready mind.
Real Estate – Days [Domino]
On Real Estate’s sophomore LP, the New Jersey suburbanites move past the lo fi surf pop heard on their debut, into a territory that is decidedly their own. The combination of dueling guitars blend together like those of Verlaine and Lloyd on many songs like “Easy” and “Green Aisles,” while others show lead singer Martin Courtney’s progression as a songwriter highly capable of evoking images from one’s adolescent years. It’s an album everyone can like, and based on it’s recent success, it seems that most people do.
Quilt – S/T [Mexican Summer]
The debut LP from Boston’s Quilt is a recent discovery that quickly made its mark on my list of favorites. The group dabbles in a wide range of sounds that channel everyone from the Airplane to The Incredible String Band and other west coast 60s psych acts to Raga to British folk influences like The Pentangle and many others. Songs “Rabid Love” and “The Silver Stairs of Ketchikan” even recall a less eerie Woods, taking on a similar minimalist freak folk approach led by the choir-like vocals of Anna Fox Rochinski. The album, produced and engineered by Apollo Sunshine’s Jesse Gallagher, is the result of a series of extended experimental jams and free form songwriting. Many of the songs take on mantra-like form, with repetitive chants and Eastern melodies that guide the listener through dreamy, transcendent sound quests.
“Cowboys In The Void”
White Denim – D [Downtown]
On D, White Denim moves in a more progressive direction. The album’s complex arrangements and near-perfect vocal harmonies showcase the group’s impressive chops and their continually evolving songwriting approach. While D is certainly White Denim’s best effort to date, it only begins to hint at the potential they can still reach.
Gillian Welch – Harrow & The Harvest [Acony]
Gillian Welch and David Rawling’s highly anticipated new release finally made its way to our ears this year, proving that the wait was all worth while. The songs hearken back to a past time, keeping alive a style of music that has seemingly packed up and gone, while still sounding fresh and current.
“The Way It Goes”
Woodsman – Mystic Places [Fire Talk]
On Mystic Places (the only EP to make this list), Woodsman successfully capture their more experimental side with a series of organic, mostly instrumental, tunes that travel through loop-heavy drones and propulsive zoned-out drum beats. Combine all of that with VHS-ripped vocal segments and the group’s nack for kraut-inspired improv and you have one of the finest psych-rock releases of the year.
Twerps – S/T [Underwater Peoples]
The debut full-length release from Melbourne, Austrailia’s Twerps is a welcome extension to the wave of jangly, surf pop flooding onto the scene in recent years. Separating themselves from the pack with the raw, matter-of-fact lead vocals of frontman Marty Frawley, the group channels 80s Flying Nun artists like the Clean, while also nodding to 90s lo fi acts. It’s as though punk sensibilities have combined with those of the pop world to help this seemingly tossed-off effort sound so cohesive and compelling. Most of the album’s warm pop numbers are driven by treble-heavy, Tom Verlaine style guitar riffs and simple, catchy hooks (“Dreaming,” “This Guy,”), while others (“Bring Me Down”) strip all of that away, exposing a far more melancholic side of Twerps’ sound. Both sides come together with the anthemic final track “Coast to Coast,” where Frawley proclaims “The sun’s in my eye, and I’ve never felt so high,” a fair declaration to close out one of 2011’s finest efforts.
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo [Matador]
Smoke Ring for My Halo is Kurt Vile’s fourth and finest LP to date. On this one, the Philadelphia-native steps into a more polished zone, continuing to build upon his unique mix of twangy finger-picked ballads and fuzz-heavy guitar rock anthems.
Yellowbirds – The Color [Royal Potato Family]
The debut solo release from Apollo Sunshine’s Sam Cohen is a highly impressive effort from start to finish. Over the course of 11 tracks, Cohen guides us through a calming psychedelic journey that begins with the very first note of “The Rest of My Life.” Much of the album evokes a throwback 60′s psych sound, but with the addition of an arsenal of effects and an auto-harp, a fresh wave rushes through each song. Cohen’s approach to his solos shines a light on his Berkelee schooling, setting him in place among the top guitarists on the scene today.
“Our Good Days Are Gone”
Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges [Constellation]
New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges is the second solo album from Montreal-based saxophone virtuoso Colin Stetson. Using mainly his saxophone, and recording many of the tracks live, Stetson builds lush soundscapes that recall the likes of nothing you’ve ever heard before. While many adventures of this type often come off as failed, free-form sonic experiments, New History is compelling and highly musical throughout.
Sun Araw – Ancient Romans [Drag City / Sun Ark]
Sun Araw’s double LP Ancient Romans, is probably the most accessible grouping of songs in the Los Angeles artist’s cannon. This one isn’t for everyone, but if you can wrap your head around the odd times and complex sound textures that guide this adventure, then you may discover the true genius behind the loop master’s art. Another one that rarely left the vicinity of my turntable this year.
Amen Dunes – Through Donkey Jaw [Sacred Bones]
Through Donkey Jaw is the second full-length release from Damon McMahon’s Amen Dunes project. Meditative, hazy guitar lines and McMahon’s floaty vocals guide the songs through minimalist psych excursions. A highly transcendent listening experience.
Megafaun – S/T [Hometapes]
The fourth full length from Durham, NC’s Megafaun, largely explores the more rugged, American side of the their rural sound. While the self-titled album is largely accessible, it also leans toward their experimental side with tracks like “These Words” and “Serene Return.” One of the year’s most stunningly beautiful releases.
Peaking Lights – 936 [Not Not Fun]
Madison, Wisconsin’s Peaking Lights are a married couple who’s music sounds like Tom Tom Club on a boatload of acid. Infusing dub-style grooves with psychy sounds and effects, 936 is, simply put, a danceable astral adventure.
“All The Sun That Shines”
Tinariwen – Tasilli [Anti-]
Recorded in a remote section of the South Eastern Algerian desert, Tassili, Tinariwen’s fifth studio release, sets a different course than previous efforts. On the long player, the group strips down their sound—trading Stratocasters for acoustics, employing the use of un-amplified percussion—and, for the first time, invites a few notable outsiders to appear. Guests include Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio, who ventured to the desert to record with the band, in addition to Wilco guitarist Nels Cline and members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Returning to the their beginnings, Tassili recreates the origins of Tinariwen’s music—acoustic songs performed by an open fire, much like the refugee camps where they originated.
“Tenere Taqqim Tossam”
Panda Bear – Tomboy [Paw Tracks]
Four years after the release of the Noah Lennox’s groundbreaking album Person Pitch, came the release of the more conventional and structured effort Tomboy. Lennox continues to churn out blissful psychedelia with modern Brian Wilson-style vocal harmonies, although in a more simplistic fashion that shows a progression in his approach to sampling and looping techniques. Deserving of many listens.
Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread [Drag City]
On Goodbye Bread, Ty Segall steps into the singer-songwriter shoes with an album full of Lennon-esque vocals and crashing, fuzzed-out guitar riffs. Another great guitar-rock album from 2011.
“I Can’t Feel It”
Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler/The Dream [In the Red]
At this point I’m pretty tired of writing about albums, but this one happens to be my favorite garage rock album, in a large sea of them, to come out of 2011. Let’s leave it at that.
Best New Release From The Past:
The Beach Boys – The Smile Sessions
Best Live Releases:
Miles Davis – The Bootleg Series, Volume 1: Live in Europe 1967
Grateful Dead – Europe 72 Vol. II
Phish – Hampton/Winston-Salem ’97
Frank Zappa – Live at Carnegie Hall
The Paperhead – S/T
Middle Brother – S/T
The Barr Brothers – S/T [featured on last year’s list]
The Feelies – Here Before
Wilco – The Whole Love
Bonnie Prince Billy – Wolfroy Goes To Town
MV & EE – Country Stash
Bon Iver – S/T
Beyondo – Free The Twin
Ducktails – Aracade Dynamics III
Stephen Malkmus- Mirror Traffic
Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica
Julian Lynch – Terra
Rangers – Pan Am Stories
Wooden Shjips – West
11.23.11 Bowery Ballroom (Photo by Brian Stollery)
Real Estate announces more North American dates in January in addition to their already announced show at Terminal 5 opening for Girls. The band will also head to Australia and New Zealand in March. Real Estate wraps up their 2011 touring with a brief run of 10 European dates starting next week.
Real Estate 2012 Tour Dates
Wed-Nov-30 Barcelona, Spain KGB
Thu-Dec-01 Valencia, Spain Wah Wah
Fri-Dec-02 Madrid, Spain El Sol
Sat-Dec-03 Lisbon, Portugal LZB
Mon-Dec-05 Clermont Ferrand, France La Cooperative De Mai
Tue-Dec-06 London, England Scala
Fri-Dec-09 Copenhagen, Denmark Vega
Sat-Dec-10 Gothenberg, Sweden Henriksberg
Sun-Dec-11 Stockholm, Sweden Slussen
Mon-Dec-12 Oslo, Norway John Dee
Sat-Jan-14 New York, NY Terminal 5 #
Sun-Jan-15 Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall
Mon-Jan-16 Providence, RI Met Cafe
Tue-Jan-17 Burlington, VT Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
Wed-Jan-18 Montreal, QC La Sala Rossa
Thu-Jan-19 Ottawa, ON Mavericks
Fri-Jan-20 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
Sat-Jan-21 Cleveland, OH Beachland Ballroom
Sun-Jan-22 Washington, DC Black Cat
Fri-Mar-09 Sydney, AUS The Standard
Sat-Mar-10 Meredith, AUS Golden Plains Festival
Mon-Mar-12 Melbourne, AUS Corner Hotel
Tue-Mar-13 Brisbane, AUS The Zoo
Thu-Mar-15 Auckland, NZ Kings Arms
Fri-Mar-16 Wellington, NZ San Francisco Bath House
After a long and highly successful tour, Real Estate make their big homecoming tonight with a sold-out show at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. In honor of their return, we look back on this B-side track off their original lo fi 7″ for Underwater Peoples. If you haven’t already, be sure to pick up their “dope” new album Days.