Let’s start with last night’s most curious revelation. “Our album’s here, you can buy it,” says Real Estate main guy Martin Courtney, from the stage at Glasslands, a few hours into Death and Taxes’ release party there. He adds: “It’d be nice if people stopped stealing it.” Polite, but pointed: they’d like all those mp3s back, please. It’s an adult move for a band whose debut is technically not even out yet–the record, which is self-titled, comes out on Woodsist next month–and it matches nicely with what they do onstage: ostentatiously simple songs, with a kind of dazed, AM radio vibe to them, basement pop that’s as unassuming as it is effective.
The quartet is in the thick of CMJ, with a bunch of showcases down and at least two more to go, but at Glasslands their vibe is calm, even narcotic. “Beach Comber” toddles along, Courtney and Ducktails refugee Matt Mondanile plucking out little melodic figures, the vocals affectless but sincere. The funkiest they get is in the aftermath of their set, when drummer Etienne Duguay assays a complicated bit of dancing/drum deconstruction to the disco pumping over the PA.
“Our first Brooklyn show was a year ago this week,” says Japandroids guitarist Brian King, up next. “You know how many people were there? Two.” In the context of CMJ, Japandroids are nearly elder statesman; among other things they are, incongruously, one of the few artists short of Busta Rhymes at this entire festival to have a bonafide hit, if you can call “Young Hearts Spark Fire”–a ridiculously catchy and galvanizing bit of ’90s VFW hall emo–a hit. Tonight, there’s not a lot of doubt. The duo saves the song for second-to-last; when it finally comes around, the entire crowd handles the backing vocals, King wades out in the crowd with his guitar, drummer David Prowse grins throughout, the end of the song terminating in one massive pileup at the front of the stage. “Young Hearts” might eventually become an albatross for the band, but at Glasslands it’s clear we’re all still very much in the honeymoon phase. “All of our songs are so fucking easy,” King had said earlier, cuing up a new one. “You can learn them in 30 seconds.” Or a year. Either way.