Just like when he was a kid, Courtney didn’t set out to find a whole record, he just wandered and let the signs guide him. Eventually, those imaginary directional arrows took him from his home base to Silent Partner in Philadelphia, PA, where he laid down basic tracks with Matt Barrick of The Walkmen, then back home to expand and develop the tunes, and then to Los Angeles, where he decamped to Mant Sounds to record with Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith/Kurt Vile) before engaging in bicoastal late night mixing sessions with the producer.
Nostalgia is naturally woven into Courtney’s sensibility. “I was singing about the good old days even on the first Real Estate album,” he laughs, noting that the “old days” were only two or three years ago at that point. Courtney doesn’t spend the entire record looking back—many of these are his most present tense to date—but a youthful exuberance does propel it forward. Courtney notes that he imagined the songs emerging in a post-pandemic world, providing a soundtrack for better days of relief and optimism.
The result is a set of songs that balance joyful abandon with late night wistfulness. “Sailboat” hums with Yo La Tengo buzziness; “Merlin” rolls with a gentle strut; the aforementioned “Corncob” ambles with a golden hued pop elegance. “It was a lot of first thought, best thought,” he says, noting the album’s improvised guitar solos, which sounds celebratory and striking. “I wanted to make music I wanted to hear, in a world that wasn’t so dark and shitty,” he explains.
That hopefulness blooms on the love song “Exit Music,” which closes the record. “Though we’re not as young as we once were/we both know we’ve still got time for sure,” he sings over chiming Feelies electric and acoustic guitars. And that’s the nature of “signs,” they’re outward symbols encountered while the journey is currently in progress. They dot the landscape of Martin Courtney’s songs, inviting you to head off in a direction of your choosing and see what you find.
Age Restrictions - All Ages
Supporting Acts - John Andrews and the Yawns