Albums can't help but mirror the environments that shaped their makers. Think of the clatter of Detroit auto plants and urban unrest in Kick Out the Jams, the pastoral Woodstock solitude of Moondance, the down-in-the-'hood, shit's-about-to-get-real rage of Straight Outta Compton. And then there's, well, pretty much any of the albums by Real Estate, which perfectly capture—revel in, one might even say—the manicured lawns and sedate monotony of leader Martin Courtney's serene suburban upbringing. In the painfully understated tracks of their fourth and newest disc, In Mind ("Saturday," "Same Sun," "Holding Pattern"), one vividly senses the hissing of summer sprinklers, the chirps and titters of crickets and birds, and the rare, delicately tinkling chimes of distant ice cream trucks. On May 20, the quietude of the quintet will be in full effect when they visit BSP's Back Room Theater.
Actually, says band leader Martin Courtney, Real Estate is a bit more animated in live performance than fans who are only familiar with them via their records may anticipate. "People might expect us to be mellow live, but we're not, really," he assures by phone before a show in Portland, Oregon. "And we're on tour now, so by the time we get [to Kingston] we'll be a well-oiled machine."
The machine, as it were, was minted in 2008 in the affluent New Jersey town of Ridgewood. When it came to naming his band, the apple of inspiration didn't fall far from the tree: Courtney's parents run a real estate firm. Before starting his current group, the singer and guitarist served as the bassist of Library of Congress (nee Seizing Elian), which also included Patrick Stickles and Andrew Cedermark, later of acclaimed punk outfit Titus Andronicus. "Titus really inspired us," says Courtney, who contributed upright bass to the latter band's first release. "They were these guys we had known since high school and they were out there really doing it, making records and going on tour."
Real Estate set off on a similar path with their eponymous 2009 debut, which clicked hard with critics thanks to its light guitars, hazy vocals, and lyrics that had Courtney seeking the hidden poetry in the dreamy days in the 'burbs and trips to the beach of his youth. Days, the band's breezy breakthrough, arrived in 2011 and was taped at Marcata Recording in Gardiner with producer Kevin McMahon, who also worked with, among many others, Courtney's old friends Titus Andronicus and whose ongoing project, Pelican Movement, will perform with Real Estate at BSP. (Pelican Movement also includes drummer Sammi Niss and guitarist Jesse Alexander of Battle Ave and Sweet Clementines guitarist/Chronogram contributor John Burdick.) 2014's Atlas repeated the relaxed routine, and, once again, topped many an indie poll.
Before drifting into our neck of the woods, Real Estate will have completed shows on the West Coast and in the Midwest and appeared at Coachella and the Dominican Republic's Isle of Light Music Festival. Tight travel time made the latter event a tiring one, but the band nevertheless connected with the crowd. "Yeah, people there are very into indie rock, or whatever you want to call it," says Courtney, who's lived in Beacon since 2014. "People really are the same everywhere, we've found."
Real Estate will perform in the Back Room Theater of BSP in Kingston on May 20 at 7:30pm. Pelican Movement will open. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. (845) 481-5158.