Real Estate @ The Black Market, El Paso, TX 11/26/09


Real Estate

I’d have to say, in all honesty, that this most recent Thanksgiving was one of the best of my short life. Relieved from so much of the stress that clouded my life the past two years, I was able to enjoy a great day at home, watching football of course (go Cowboys!), and an even better dinner. Even my mom, whom is already an outstanding cook, made what is now regarded as her best turkey in years: tender, juicy and utterly delicious. If only there was something else that put it over the top.

I like that term: over the top, and how it can relate and be used in so many different contexts. For example, to borrow on my football comment, a team can have a very solid defense with a good amount of great players that shore that side of the ball. But it wont be ‘over the top’ until they add that one player that menaces either the defensive line or the secondary with his playmaking ability. In music, an album can be consistent and filled with great music but it needs that one song to combine it all into a near essential release.

So when I heard that a small band like Real Estate would be playing that same night, I took it as an omen to continue on my great holiday. The music began with a band from Juarez that took some of The Mars Volta’s sturdiest days and turned them into politically charged music. It ended with another local group of musicians that featured two MCs who would batter and duel for their entire set of energetic music.

Real Estate

Real Estate

But sandwiched in between it all was this little New Jersey band’s ambient, relaxing and impeccably special music. “Black Lake” was a song that had much of the audience enticed, with its placid beginning and opening. Martin Courtney’s vocals are hidden with reverb and echo but they’re also openly fragile and Matthew Mondanile’s guitar gleams with an effervescent amount of shine. And later, the crowd would dance around in joy to “Beach Comber”’s sparkling music. So many of the band’s songs are highlighted by Mondanile and Courtney’s guitars that they’re so frequently ‘over the top,’ it only makes it that much harder to decide on one to comment on – they’re all gold.

It’s always exceptional knowing that there are these kinds of bands still making music out there. They’re trying to make it, in an honest way and they are sacrificing so much just trying to make it all work – the kind of band that plays for free (or assumedly so, as there wasn’t even a cover) on Thanksgiving away from all of their family. And when you can pour so much of yourself into short, two-minute songs like “Atlantic City,” where the audience is left pleading for more, I’ll never regret feeling exhausted at work the next day. Friendly, genuine and obviously talented, they’re able to make any day or night ‘over the top.’ They’re still touring and will be for a while, so if you get the chance do yourself a favor and find them because they’re every bit worth it.