Atlas (Real Estate album)

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Studio album by Real Estate
Released March 4, 2014
Recorded June–November, 2013[1]
Studio The Loft
(Chicago, Illinois),
The Magic Shop
(New York City, New York)
Length 38:18
Label Domino
Producer Tom Schick
Real Estate chronology
In Mind
(2017)In Mind2017
Singles from Atlas
  1. "Talking Backwards"
    Released: January 14, 2014
  2. "Crime"
    Released: February 20, 2014
  3. "Had to Hear"
    Released: August 25, 2014

Atlas is the third studio album by American indie rock band Real Estate, released on March 4, 2014 on Domino Records.[2] It was their first album recorded with drummer Jackson Pollis and keyboardist Matt Kallman, and the last one with lead guitarist and founding member Matt Mondanile.


After touring for the album Days was finished, in late 2012 Real Estate took a break. While guitarist Mondanile and bassist Alex Bleeker worked on their respective solo projects, lead singer and guitarist Martin Courtney got married and was busy writing songs, which was something that he had started while touring. The band then spent winter and spring working on songs, taking up a total of eight to nine months on songwriting before recording commenced.[3] In mid-2012 and throughout 2013, the band would feature new material in their shows.[4]

A friend of Real Estate suggested the album be produced by Jim O'Rourke,[5] an idea which intrigued the band since they were fans of his work on Wilco's seminal album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and felt that his production style would fit with the "clean record" that they wanted to make.[3] As the band was certain that working together would be unlikely given O'Rourke's enigmatic nature,[6] their label proposed working with Tom Schick instead. Schick had co-produced Wilco's most recent album, The Whole Love, and was also the house engineer at The Loft, Wilco's studio in Chicago, Illinois. Since Wilco would be on tour, they gave Real Estate permission to record at the studio and use their gear, the first time for any band without Wilco's presence.[7]

After mostly recording Days as a three-piece of Courtney, Mondanile and Bleeker, the addition of drummer Jackson Pollis - who had played with Real Estate since 2011 - enabled them to record basic tracks live as opposed to overdubbing tracks one by one.[8] Before recording started, the band decided to add more sophisticated keyboard parts to be played by someone more proficient. Jonah Maurer, who joined Real Estate along with Pollis for the Days tour and performed several of the new songs live during his time in the band, had moved on to join Titus Andronicus.[9] As a result, they recruited Matt Kallman, formerly of Girls, and had him write his own parts with a little direction.[3][10] At one point, Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy dropped by the studio to witness the band recording several takes of a song that received glowing enthusiasm from him, but ultimately did not make the album.[11]

The album was recorded over the summer and fall of 2013 at The Loft and The Magic Shop in New York City.[12] The album was also mixed at the Magic Shop. The album was subsequently mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound in New York City with the bonus tracks being mastered by Joe Lambert at Joe Lambert Mastering.


The artwork for the album comes a mural painted by the Polish artist Stefan Knapp for the former department store chain Alexander's in Paramus, New Jersey.

The mural has since been disassembled following the close of Alexander's and the Bergen Museum of Art & Science's purchase of the mural. While various suggestions to the non-profit organization concerning its potential location have amassed, the mural was only recently put on display in Paterson, New Jersey at the Art Factory in June, 2015. The mural has yet to find a replacement for its location of display.


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 78/100[13]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[14]
The A.V. Club C+[15]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[16]
Mojo 4/5 stars[17]
NME 8/10[18]
The Observer 4/5 stars[19]
Pitchfork Media 8.8/10[20]
Q 4/5 stars[21]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[22]
Spin 7/10[23]

Atlas received widespread acclaim from contemporary music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 78, based on 31 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[13] The album was recognized as one of The 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far by Pitchfork Media in August 2014.[24]

The album debuted at #34 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.[25]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Martin Courtney, except where noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Had to Hear"   4:51
2. "Past Lives"   4:33
3. "Talking Backwards"   3:08
4. "April's Song" Matthew Mondanile 3:32
5. "The Bend"   5:12
6. "Crime"
7. "Primitive"   4:15
8. "How Might I Live" Alex Bleeker 2:28
9. "Horizon"   3:11
10. "Navigator"   3:36
Total length: 38:18


Technical personnel
  • Rob Carmichael  - graphic design
  • Irmgard Carpenter  - photography
  • Shawn Brackbill  - photography
  • Charles Poekel  - photography


  1. ^ "Real Estate: Atlas". Domino. Retrieved December 11, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Spin" Kyle McGovern, Real Estate Confirm 'Atlas' Album With 'Talking Backwards' Single', Spin Magazine, January 14, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Hannah, Andrew (2014-03-07). "Martin Courtney of Real Estate: “We wanted to make a really clean record”". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  4. ^ BrooklynVegan Staff (2013-07-30). "Real Estate played Maxwell’s with guest Glenn Mercer of the Feelies (setlist, video)". BrooklynVegan. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  5. ^ Senter, Amelia (2014-09-21). "Real Estate Maps Out Its Sound". My Spilt Milk. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  6. ^ Thiessen, Brock (2015-05-20). "An Essential Guide to Jim O'Rourke". Exclaim. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  7. ^ McKinnel, Ryan (2014-03-11). "Real Estate: Exploring The Space". Filter. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  8. ^ Glickman, David (October 14, 2014). "Q-and-A with Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker". The Daily Texan. Retrieved April 20, 2017. 
  9. ^ Unterberger, Andrew (2015-08-20). "Punk Begins at 30: A Titus Andronicus Story in Five Acts". Spin. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  10. ^ Hyden, Steven (January 16, 2014). "Q&A: Real Estate’s Martin Courtney on His Band’s New Album and Being Stuck on the ’70s". Retrieved April 29, 2017. 
  11. ^ Muller, Marissa G. (2014-03-05). "How Real Estate Blew Jeff Tweedy's Mind". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-04-30. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b "Reviews for Atlas by Real Estate". Metacritic. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  14. ^ Thomas, Fred. "Atlas – Real Estate". AllMusic. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  15. ^ Brusie, David (March 4, 2014). "On Atlas, Real Estate lacks direction". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 17, 2016. 
  16. ^ Gibsone, Harriet (February 27, 2014). "Real Estate: Atlas review – The Truman Show, New Jersey-style". The Guardian. Retrieved May 17, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Real Estate: Atlas". Mojo (245): 92. April 2014. 
  18. ^ Horton, Matthew (February 28, 2014). "Real Estate – 'Atlas'". NME. Retrieved May 17, 2016. 
  19. ^ Mardles, Paul (March 2, 2014). "Atlas review – sun-kissed indie-rock with depth from Real Estate". The Observer. Retrieved May 17, 2016. 
  20. ^ Greene, Jayson (March 3, 2014). "Real Estate: Atlas". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Real Estate: Atlas". Q (333): 117. April 2014. 
  22. ^ Hermes, Will (March 4, 2014). "Atlas". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 17, 2016. 
  23. ^ Weiss, Dan (February 28, 2014). "Real Estate Get a Little Less Chill and a Little More Proactive on the Surprisingly Bracing 'Atlas'". Spin. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
  24. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far (2010–2014)". Pitchfork Media. August 19, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Billboard" Billboard Chart March 8, 2014.