Downhills Home
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(4/5 stars)
Melbourne 5-piece Downhills Home made an impressive arrival in 2007 with their debut album Minor Birds. A gorgeous suite of alt and psychedelic country-rock songs, it was one of the year’s finest releases, so there was much anticipation surrounding its follow-up. Well, like Wilco escaped their alt-country garrotting without sacrificing superb songwriting or authenticity, so too have Downhills Home on The Wolves In The Woods. There’s still elements of twang here, but Downhills Home are no longer defined by it, as songwriters Sean McMahon and Michael Hubbard stretch themselves in grander, bolder directions, aided by Laura Jean and Mia Dyson on vocals and fiddle player Jen Anderson.
Highlights are the perfect warm pop of Pluto’s Blues, the slightly Stonesy-riffed Dancing and the sexy 12-bar chug of Only Of The Flesh. A constant highlight, however, is McMahon’s stunning voice, which perfectly frames each song; a lesson in understatement, it’s warm and relaxed, even when he’s soaring. And they’re terrific live, too.
- Jo Roberts


And here we have it, the guitar rock album of the year so far. You’ve heard Brian Wise rave about them. There would have been enough pressure from Brian’s expectations alone to shatter a lesser band in approaching their second album, but Downhills Home have delivered - big time!
The best thing about Downhills Home is that there’s no gimmick - nothing flashy, no ‘unique’ vocalist of flashy guitar whiz-kid. Here you get ten incredible songs, played with such economic ease and integrity, that you want to go back and listen to each and every one of them again. And again. And then you begin to comprehend just how great those vocals are; how brilliant that guitar truly is (let’s see you play a lead that makes the listener want to sing it - go on!)
Stylistically, you’d be hard pressed to slap any real country tag on The Wolves In The Woods - it’s just top shelf, classic rock music that makes you think of your favourite Stones, Faces, Replacements, You Am I tracks, a warm glow descending over your body (that didn’t realise how much it was missing such greatness until suddenly recognising it again) and a grin splitting your face.
I’d like to point out song highlights, like when the band disrupts pretty opener ‘Travelling Light’ by spitting ‘the heart gets fucking heavy now and then’ or the feedback-to-golden riff intro of ‘On The Stairs (In The Dark)’, but, see I’m only two songs into the album and just scratching the surface. On alright, just a couple more: ‘Only Of The Flesh’ is maybe the best song I’ve heard this year, all psychedelic blues guitarmonies and stoned-out talk of getting head, and ‘Wandering Eyes’ would have been Top 5 if it was released in 1073. That’s it...Oh, but hold on, what about ‘Dancing’ - Keef riffs a-flying. Second best song I’ve heard this year.
The fact that this band is unsigned and still playing in tiny pubs is freakin’ astonishing.
- Marty Jones


In the abstract the cross-country journey can be a romantic concept, replete with images of glistening sunshine, lush rolling landscapes, warm and eccentric rural identities. Constructed and enshrined in our consciousness with the assistance of writers, poets and painters, many of us fall victim to the romance of the journey, only to be confronted by the harsh reality of the overheating car, petulant children, offensive local characters, all of which are strangely missing from the great artistic journeys of yore.
Yet within the opening moments of Downhills Home’s new album, The Wolves in the Woods, those romantic images come rolling back into focus. Close your eyes to the sound of Travelling Light and you’re in an environment characterised by unyielding beauty, happiness and everything in between. Like The Eagles without the corrupting influences of egos and cocaine, this it the romantic sojourn in its ideal form. Slowing down and taking a side road through the forest and your sauntering casually in concert with On the Stairs (In the Dark); emerging from the shadows and it’s some well-needed introspection of the heart and mind in Pluto’s Blues.
If it’s the hip-griding riffs of the band’s first album you’re yearning for across your own wanders, look no further than At Least My Luck or Only of the Flesh (the latter, out of nowhere, terminates alongside Kim Salmon and the Surrealists’ Rose Coloured Windscreen), while the violin spiced inner rural- or is it outer suburban- pub attitude of Wandering Eyes is an invigorating as its lyrics are euphemistic in their description of the song’s subject. When You Think That I’m Wrong is as sweet and loving as the fond memories we’ve left behind somewhere in our past. Dancing stumbles out from Laurel Canyon and onto the brink of the late 70s FM west coast rock, dragging everyone along the ridge, just in time for the seven minute space and country psychedelic finale of Over and Out.
The romance of cross-country travel may be about as genuine as the fairies living in the bottom of the garden, but Downhills Home are as real as bands come. Great songs, serious licks, elegance as far as the eye can see. A journey everyone should take.
- Patrick Emery


Discography

Minor Birds - LP 2007
The Wolves in the Woods - LP 2009
airplay for various track from both albums in Australia.
Both albums available for download on itunes and some tracks streaming on Last Fm, etc.

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Bio

“Exiled on main street, lost in big pink and enthroned in the gilded palace of sin.” While Melbourne
5 piece Downhills Home may have a solid grasp on 60's and 70's psychedelic country rock and a
love for the classic folk songsmiths of the era, there’s an undeniable authenticity in their music, an
authenticity matched by very few bands in the country today. Their songs are laden with lyrical beauty and the interplay within the band is no less than captivating in a live setting.

Since forming in the summer of 2006, and after constant gigging around Melbourne and interstate touring, Downhills Home have gradually refined their sound and style. Their versatile approach has taken them from hot and sweaty packed out shows at venues like the Tote one night to ‘the band in the corner’ pub shows the next. They’ve played supports with the likes of Even, Weddings Parties Anything, Mia Dyson and Jen Cloher. They topped off 2007 with a set at the Falls Festival and supported the Dandy Warhols on their 2008 national tour after being hand picked by the band themselves.
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In this short time, Downhills Home have independently released two LP’s to great critical acclaim.
Their debut “Minor Birds’ was voted in the best Aussie releases for 2007 in both the Rhythms magazine readers and writers polls. The Australian gave it 4/5 stars, Inpress gave them ‘single of the week’ for ‘To Make Light Of Our Load’, and Beat magazine described it as ‘an album of utterly compelling beauty” (Patrick Emery).

The kudos continued for the band with the follow up album ‘the Wolves the Wolves in the Woods’, released April ’09, inspiring the following words of praise
“the guitar rock album of the year..Downhills Home have delivered-big time!” Marty Jones, Rhythms
“like Wilco escaped their alt-country garrotting without sacrificing superb songwriting or authenticity, so too have Downhills Home on The Wolves In The Woods” - The Age (4 Stars)
“Downhills Home are as real as bands come. Great songs, serious licks, elegance as far as the eye can see” – Beat Magazine
“Downhills Home have produced a record in The Wolves In The Woods which has quietly ingrained itself into my psyche... a grower of epic proportions” - Inpress Magazine
“a contender for Album Of The Year.” – Australian Guitar

The release of ‘The Wolves in the Woods’ was followed up with a national tour, which saw Downhills Home recreating much of the magic captured in the studio in front of live audiences across the country. This, along with the critical acclaim has given the band a great momentum, a momentum that will no doubt take Downhills Home in the direction they so richly deserve.

www.downhillshome.com or www.myspace.com/downhillshome