. . .
The spring of 2014 turned out to be one of the worst times of my life. On the last weekend of February, a series of torrential downpours that were seemingly centered over our house caused the back of the house to leak so much that it was basically misty by our back door. The final straw was when water started pouring through our ceiling fan onto our bed.
So for over three months, Rox and I lived a weird existence: sleeping in a Burbank hotel while supervising the teardown, mold removal and eventual reconstruction of the house we’d lived in for nearly five years, all the while fighting with our recalcitrant insurance company and a smooth-talking contractor who promised things it didn’t seem like his people were going to fulfill.
Needless to say, it wasn’t fun, and in fact, it was the beginning of a run of shitty luck that would last for nearly two years, because that’s just how life works, right?
In any event, Real Estate’s 3rd album, Atlas, came out right around that time, and it turns out to be one of those pieces of pop culture that got me through that weird, difficult time.
And one of the key tracks was the opening track “Had To Hear,” featuring an amazing jangly hooky riff from lead guitarist Matt Mondanile that they know is so great, they let him basically repeat it a few times before the rhythm section comes in. But even when Martin Courtney starts singing, Mondanile continues to dance around him with his guitar.
I’m out again on my own
A reflection in the chrome
Of an idle machine
It’s been so long
My mind is drawing a blank
Don’t know if I can go back
But to live out this dream
It’s just my luck
I call you up
It’s an absolutely exquisite guitar part, like what Johnny Marr did on the first couple of Smiths albums, setting up and framing the vocals and the songs melody, but also stealing the show at the same time. Near the end Mondanile goes off on an extended guitar solo, echoing and ringing, and it is fantastic.
During that dark spring, every time “Had to Hear” came up in the mix, I was totally and utterly transfixed by it, a tiny respite from the river of shit I was wading through.
“Had To Hear” Official Video
“Had to Hear” Live at WFUV, 2014
“Had to Hear” Live at the Pitchfork Music Festival, 2014
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