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Friday, Oct. 29, 2010
Real Estate and Woods
By MIKE SUNDA
Real Estate and Woods are two of the most exciting prospects to come out of the United States recently, and if tapes were sold on indie-cred alone they would no doubt be permanent fixtures on the top-sellers lists. Both bands have been awarded the "Best New Music" seal of approval by indie tastemakers Pitchfork Media: Real Estate for their self-titled debut released at the end of last year; Woods for 2009's "Songs of Shame" LP.
Four-piece Real Estate bring to the table a psyched-out brand of pop music, with Woods offering a similarly intriguing lo-fi aesthetic, albeit with a stronger leaning toward the folk end of the spectrum. Both bands cite the likes of the Grateful Dead and Yo La Tengo in their influences, and nowhere is it more obvious than in their live performances, where extended improvisational jams and free-form interludes result in a unique show that's sonically captivating from start to finish.
Of course, drenching your sound in reverb and throwing around song titles such as "Beach Comber," "Pool Swimmers" and "Let's Rock The Beach" is always likely to invite comparisons with the most fashionable of recent genres, chillwave. Nor does it help that Woods' own label, Woodsist, also features a sister project titled "F-ck It Tapes," dedicated solely to cassette-format releases, which could easily come across as almost a parody of every hipster's favorite new genre were it not so obviously providing a genuine low-cost method of releasing the live recordings, outtakes and lost gems that fans might have missed out on otherwise. Make no mistake, although both bands might conjure up visions of blissful summer days and nights spent basking in nature — be it the picturesque New Jersey shores that inspire Real Estate's blissful surf-pop or the rustic campfire escapism that hints at where Woods might have originally come up with their name — the more probable reality is that the closest either act has come to a beach recently is a glimpse from their tour-van's window.
In fact, you'd be forgiven for thinking that these are two of the hardest working indie bands in America. Real Estate have spent most of 2010 playing shows all over Europe, the United States and Canada, including festival appearances at Primavera in Spain and Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago as well as just coming off tour with Deerhunter, one band who have already proved that superlative psych-pop can translate into indie superstardom. Meanwhile, Woods have been making sure their own Woodsist label has kept going from strength to strength, with offerings from lo-fi heavyweights such as Vivian Girls and Wavves counting among their releases.
One of Japan's longest summers in recent memory might finally have given way to October's typical chilly dreariness, but with Real Estate and Woods providing the soundtrack to the months ahead, this autumn should prove to be anything but.
Real Estate and Woods play O-Nest in Shibuya, Tokyo, on Nov. 2, 4 (¥4,200 adv.); and Unagidani Sunsui in Osaka on Nov. 3 (¥4,200 adv.). All shows start at 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.shibuya-o.com/nest, www.sunsui.net or www.woodsist.com.