Real Estate’s Martin Courtney Would Rather You Didn’t Describe His Band As ‘Chill’

Cultural Critic

When reached by phone earlier this week, Martin Courtney of the mellow New Jersey indie-rock band Real Estate was in the midst of checking out of a “sketchy” hotel on the outskirts of Austin. Courtney and his bandmates were in town for South By Southwest, where Real Estate played a series of shows leading up to the release of the band’s fourth album, the typically lovely In Mind. But while Courtney was happy to promote his latest record at one of the music industry’s largest annual events, he wasn’t eager to wade into the morass of SXSW.

“It’s just so crazy,” Courtney told me. “In general, I don’t do well in chaotic [situations]. You know, the downtown scene — which we’re mostly avoiding anyway, which is good.”

Courtney’s aversion to chaos is readily apparent on Real Estate’s records, which always sound as clean and orderly as the suburban communities that Courtney has often saluted in his songs. In Mind does not deviate much from previous Real Estate records — the songs are mostly mid-tempo, the guitar lines are always breezy and beautiful, and Courtney’s sings with uncommon affection about everyday domesticity. If you’re fan, In Mind reiterates Real Estate’s reputation as one of the most reliable indie bands going. There are more versatile bands, surely, but it’s not small compliment to note that Real Estate has mastered the art of making Real Estate records with In Mind.

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