When he’s on a break from his day job as bassist for perpetually chill Jersey rockers Real Estate, Alex Bleeker records with his group of Freaks, a rotating collection of friends and fellow musicians, and makes equally laid back jangle pop filtered through hazy summer air and leisurely Sunday afternoons. On How Far Away, his second LP, Bleeker enlists the likes of Mountain Man’s Amelia Meath, Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere, and Big Troubles’ Sam Franklin, among others. The result is a breakup record of sorts; Bleeker provides a mixed bag of inward facing tracks dealing with the dissolution of a relationship and wonders what the hell he should do next.
Bleeker’s no poker player here, showing his hand immediately on opening cut “Don’t Look Back”: “Don’t look back on the way we met/ Don’t look back at me now/ Don’t retract all the things you’ve said/ Don’t back out on me.” Thematically, it’s more overtly insular than anything his primary band has ever released, but sonically it doesn’t stray too far from Real Estate’s signature day-at-the-beach aesthetic. Girl trouble is well-worn song subject matter, sure, but when Bleeker’s husky singing voice cracks and trembles like an 8th grader asking his crush out on a date, it humanizes his woes.
Bleeker knows things are going to be okay, though. He admits as much on country-flavored standout “Step Right Up (Pour Yourself Some Wine)” with the line, “I’ll do fine, people tend to change their mind/ You can’t hold on to the past or what you left behind.” There are some missteps along the way, namely the plodding electronic misadventure “Time Cloud”, but Bleeker still manages to pack a nifty little story arc within How Far Away’s 10 short tracks. Putting aside some of those rough edges, however, the record is a more than adequate diversion until Real Estate return with LP3.
Essential Tracks: “Don’t Look Back”, “Who Are You Seeing?”