Sunny Day Real Estate Overview:
Sunny Day Real Estate aren’t generally associated with the Seattle scene of the early 1990s – which included Nirvana
and Pearl Jam
– but this quartet in their own right are as influential as any of those grunge groups. Combining punk energy, prog-rock ambition, melodic assurance, and emotional, vulnerable vocals, SDRE get credit for helping to birth the emo-rock movement of the early 21st century. But as is the case with many genre originators, SDRE failed to be as popular as the bands they helped inspire.
Sunny Day Real Estate's Origins:
Sunny Day Real Estate came together in 1992 thanks to the friendship of guitarist Dan Hoerner and bassist Nate Mendel. Later joined by drummer William Goldsmith, the trio went through several names before deciding on Sunny Day Real Estate. Eventually, Jeremy Enigk joined the group, becoming the band’s lead vocalist. After recording a few tracks, Sunny Day Real Estate signed to Sub Pop, which had released Nirvana’s 1989 debut, Bleach.
A 'Diary' That Failed to Catch On:
The Seattle quartet released their first album, Diary, in 1994. By that point, grunge (or “alternative rock”) was extraordinarily popular, and while Diary felt part of that movement, Enigk and Hoerner’s songs were more elliptical and mysterious than their contemporaries’, though they still featured a hefty amount of volume and aggression. In addition, Enigk didn’t possess the sterling pipes of the other grunge vocalists, which gave the Diary material a wimpier, more human touch. The album failed to make a dent on the charts or on radio, and Sunny Day Real Estate decided to break up.
A Follow-Up After the Breakup:
The following year, the band put out their self-titled follow-up, although they had already split up by that time. (In fact, Goldsmith and Mendel had joined Dave Grohl in Foo Fighters
.) Also known as LP2
and The Pink Album
(in honor of its all-pink cover), Sunny Day Real Estate
sounds like a band that’s utterly exhausted, which is not to say that the album didn’t contain some dynamic songs. But considering that it contained a few tracks that were previously available in other forms, Sunny Day Real Estate
had a bit of a mishmash quality to it, despite its hints of brilliance.
Getting the Band Back Together for 'Something':
In 1997, Sunny Day Real Estate decided to get back together, and a year later they released How It Feels to Be Something On
. Mendel chose to remain in Foo Fighters, so SDRE recruited Jeff Palmer to play bass on the record. More polished and mature than their previous records, How It Feels to Be Something On
expanded the band’s sonic ambitions, resulting in a trippier, more hypnotic effort. For the first time, Sunny Day Real Estate landed an album on the Billboard
chart, opening the door to other emo bands like the Promise Ring and Death Cab for Cutie
to start making commercial inroads.
'The Rising Tide':
Splitting with Palmer, SDRE were a trio for 2000’s The Rising Tide. The raw edges of Diary were long gone, and Enigk’s vocals had achieved a dreamy gracefulness that nicely complemented the accessible, formidable songs. Still, The Rising Tide continued the band’s tradition of making passionate albums beloved by a small cult audience that failed to cross over to the masses.
In 2010, Sunny Day Real Estate announced that they were working on their first album since 2000’s The Rising Tide. Also noteworthy, Mendel planned to join this reunion, which would mark his first appearance on a SDRE record since 1995’s Sunny Day Real Estate.
Sunny Day Real Estate Lineup:
Essential Sunny Day Real Estate Album:
The Rising Tide
Considering the band’s tumultuous start-and-stop career, there’s plenty of room for debate about which Sunny Day Real Estate album is their best. But while each of their studio records boasts worthy moments, The Rising Tide
is probably the group’s most consistent and dazzling effort. Retaining the searching, passionate quality of their early albums while embracing their growing musicianship, The Rising Tide
feels like a best-of-both-worlds proposition for this trailblazing emo-rock unit that had discovered a new creative peak.
Sunny Day Real Estate Discography:
Sunny Day Real Estate
How It Feels to Be Something On
(live album) (1999)
The Rising Tide