Today, Martin Courtney, the front man of indie rock mainstays Real Estate, announces his second full-length solo album 'Magic Sign', out June 24th via Domino. Alongside the announcement, Courtney unveils 'Corncob', an ode to bygone teenage nights that ambles with a golden-hued pop elegance. The music video for 'Corncob' was co-directed by Bráulio Amado & Antonio Vicentini.
On 'Corncob', Martin Courtney says: “The lyrics are about a specific time, the end of youth, pre-adulthood, scummy kid hanging around your hometown a little too long, smoking weed and driving around the surrounding area with your friends to get as completely lost as possible. Eventually getting home using these little green signs that are posted throughout the NJ suburbs telling you which way to go to reach different towns. We called them magic signs.”
“You do this enough times and it eventually gets harder and harder to get lost. A song about pushing the boundaries of where you grew up until you exhaust the mystery and hit a different kind of boundary. A song about aimless kids looking for direction.”
When Martin Courtney was a teenager, he knew how to get lost. In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, there’s Martin, 17 or 18, loaded into a car with friends, stoned and aimless. They’re navigating the suburban sprawl of New Jersey with no destination in mind. He and his friends would “get thoroughly confused and look for familiar green signs with arrows pointing to towns we’d heard of. We’d call them ‘magic signs’”, he says, sitting in his home studio in Beacon, New York, where he wrote the songs that make up 'Magic Sign'.
That’s the thing about magic: when you go looking for it, you start to see it everywhere. And you can hear it twinklingly throughout the ten songs on 'Magic Sign'. Written throughout 2020 and 2021, the album came together late at night, while Courtney’s kids slept upstairs and his wife worked overnight shifts at the hospital, a role reversal from his former days out on tour while she stayed home with their family.
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.
'Magic Sign' is written, performed and produced by Martin Courtney. The album was recorded, mixed and co-produced by Rob Schnapf at Mant Sounds in Los Angeles and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound. Additional performers include Matt Barrick, Oliver Hill, Kacey Johansing, and Tim Ramsey.