Real Estate, The Babies, Cuffs @ Brighton Music Hall, Boston on Sunday, January 15, 2012.
Real Estate's quiet rise from an unassuming indie rock band to an unassuming indie rock band that fills rooms has been abetted the release of their second full length Days, a record which marks a substantial leap forward in their particular brand of gauzy, fragile pop. On first glance, their songs are as tenuous as a soap bubble, languidly drifting about through air, never knowing when the inevitable pop is coming. On closer inspection, there's a real inner strength to them, and the band's quiet but assertive confidence pushes them along at just the right pace. In particular, Alex Bleeker's bass playing is effective and providing the counter-punch of rhythm. A song like "Easy" wouldn't nearly be as great without it.
The other strength of the band is the casual, instinctive guitar interplay of Matthew Mondanile and Martin Courtney. They'll never be in the running for comparisons such as Greenwood/Greenwood or Lloyd/Verlaine, but there's no need. The gentle weave instead reminds me more of another band who revered Television, Felt, and though they didn't play their recent radio session cover of "Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow," it's a perfect match.
The Babies are a group that's a current side interest of two larger concerns (Kevin Morby of Woods, and Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls), and they spin the wheel a bit, swerve off their respective bands' paths, and find themselves squarely in the hallowed ground of a hybrid Flying Nun/Creation guitar sound. That brittle, part pop/part rock blend is among the finest sounds ever to emanate from a guitar/amp combo, and Cassie's Danelectro poured pure molten silver into the audience's ears. "Wild 1" had the legs of The Pastels and the head of Look Purple Go Blue. Sometimes the simplest path is the best path.
Boston's Cuffs got to the stage first, and again was a nice complement to the less-obvious side of indie guitar rock. Featuring members of Pants Yell and Reports, their sound was reminiscent of The Go-Betweens, after sneaking a few listens to Scientists and Swell Maps on the sly.