“Atlas,” the newest record from New Jersey band Real Estate, arrived this month to a din of anticipatory chatter in the indierock world. The band’s third studio album finds them evolving the mellow guitar sound which has made them one of the genre-defining bands of recent years.
We like Real Estate so much we invited them back for a rare repeat-performance as party DJ. Last time we spoke to them, they were in Paris, France, but this week their current tour dropped them just about 300 miles outside of Paris, Texas… at the South by Southwest festival in Austin.
Martin Courtenay: Hi, I’m Martin.
Matt Mondanile: This is Matt.
Alex Bleeker: And this is Alex, and we’re in the band Real Estate.
“If This is It” – Huey Lewis And The News
Alex: If I were hosting a dinner party, I would probably play… “If This Is It” by Huey Lewis and the News.
Alex: Yeah, I love the production on that record. It’s really good, clean ’80s radio rock. I think its like one of the best times for Top-40 radio music, you know?
Matt: Big melodies right there.
Alex: Yeah, just super melodic. We all like a good pop song.
Dinner parties sort of remind me of my parents. In a really good way: glass of wine; nice rug or something; people dancing to Huey Lewis. Something from my childhood that I remember my parents doing. So I guess that’s my dinner party gold standard.
“Take Me Up” – Scotch
Matt: I was going to choose Scotch — the group Scotch. The song “Take Me Up.” Scotch was an “Italidisco” group from the ’80s in Italy. And I think this is their best song.
Matt: “Italidisco” is disco made by Italian people in Italy, with singers that didn’t really know what they were doing — so they would only put out, like, singles.
Martin: And it’s a little bit low-budget-sounding sometimes.
Matt: But it’s great; they’re really, really great songs — some of them were really great and uplifting. There’s also a lot of bad Italidisco…
Martin: It’s in kinda broken English a little bit, sometimes —
Matt: — Yeah, so the English wouldn’t translate very well. But the components that were good, I guess, are just the simplicity of it, and how it seems pretty effortless: synthesizer and drum machine, just four-on-the-floor dance music.
Martin: It’s dance-y, yeah.
Matt: I would pair this with Italian food — I’m Italian a little bit. I’ve got a little of that inside of me, so does Martin…
Alex: Not me, I’m Jewish. So we’d be eating liver and kugel.
Matt: But we’d still be listening to this song, maybe!
Alex: Oh absolutely, absolutely! The Jews and the Italians . . . they’ve been always been sorta comparable culturally and culinarily.
“Deacon Blues” – Steely Dan
Martin: I think probably more in the Huey Lewis, “Big Chill” vein, I would go with Steely Dan, “Deacon Blues.” That just seems like really classic, dinner party style.
Martin: Similar to the Huey Lewis thing, they strike me as, like, mellow guys who happen to be incredibly talented musicians, but they’re also just dudes that hang out.
Alex: In my mind, Steely Dan should be regarded every bit as highly as like, The Beatles are. They’ve reached some sorta pinnacle.
Martin: They set a standard for recorded sound. The drum sound — that’s just like the ideal drum sound. That really close-miked sound, it works really well for us.
I’ve definitely played this song at dinner parties that my wife and I have hosted.
Alex: Martin’s dinner parties, are… you know, the pinnacle of dinner parties. The food’s always really good —
Martin: My wife is a really good cook.
Alex: — They’re a “10.”
“The Bend” – Real Estate
Alex: If we were to play one of our tunes at a party… This is just me, we haven’t conferred about this, but I think “The Bend” fits most stylistically with all the other songs that we’ve talked about. It’s kinda lounge-y…
Martin: …It’s the groove. It’s got that drum machine — it’s the first time we’ve ever used a drum machine on a song. It’s got the “bend,” the titular guitar bend, which is pretty groovy.
Martin: I hope that we inspire people to go home and call their friends and throw a dinner party, and put on our record.
Alex: Do it tonight.