It’s a Tuesday night in 1999, in a dingy old pub known as “The Sando” in Sydney,Australia’s indie music capital of Newtown. Four friends, each with their own sordid musical past are having a drink together. The idea arises of forming a group and recording an album, to feature all four members songs and be the most beautiful thing anyone has ever heard. This of course is a lofty ideal but one well worth striving for and many would say was acheived! Something a little bit country, a little bit pop, a little bit sad and very moving is what they ended up with. Jodi Phillis (renowned solo artist, ex-member of legendary alterna-pop group, The Clouds and now member of Roger Loves Betty) Tim Oxley(also a renowned solo artist, ex The Verys, Grandview and now also a member of Roger Loves Betty), Raph Whittingham(ex drummer of The Clouds and budding singer/songwriter) and Greg Hitchcock(guitarist extraordinaire, ex You Am I) recorded this gorgeous album in an old beach shack in The Royal National Park in NSW, with Cameron McCauley at the mixing desk, over 3 weeks and released their one and only album through the now defunct Candle Records label. The band and the label are no longer, but the beauty and richness of these 14 songs live on to receive praise and enchant music lovers everywhere.
'Red Wine & Blue' Album Reviews
Review by Martin Jones (Inpress Magazine)
'Whereas Loung O Sound was essentially a band backing the songwriting and singing of ex-Clouds member Jodi Phillis, The Dearhunters, virtually the same band, is much more collaborative project. Although all members of the band contribute songs, it is the stunning songwriting talents of Phillis and Tim Oxley that provide the album's backbone.
The fact that there are four songwriters in the band certainly lends this debut album diversity but there is a common spirit to all twelve tracks. It's about turning down the volume and letting the sweet, sweet melodies and harmonies sweep you away. There's a bridge in the Oxley penned track All Over Now that could easily be Crosby Stills & Nash (vintage, not present). In fact Oxley has a knack for writing seventies ode country pop and the album opens and closes with two such pieces, Mr Katherine and Alien Ship.__Phillis has also caught the country vibe, though there are traces of The Clouds in a number of her songs. Heads and Ivy (the latter written about her new baby daughter) are both gorgeous ballads whilst Ballerina is a little more experimental with backwards guitar tracks and elaborate harmonies. Timeless qualities performed and recorded with remarkable taste.__
Review by Paul Nassari (Rip It Up Magazine)
_One of those beauties that totally takes you by surprise. Gorgeous airy,wiry accoustic full of class emotion; both tender and tough, expert and pretty. This 12 sit-down song collection from the new four singer predominantly country-ish accoustic band featuring Jodi and Raph (both ex-of The Clouds, Jodi being the most instantly recognisable being the lead voice from that dearly departed band), Tim Oxley and Greg Hitchcock. All voices blend magically. They're all great, but it must be said, every last Jodi led track does you in; try not to have the Earth shift when the slide beauty 'Heads', nimbly plaintive 'Far From The Grace' or backwards 'Ballerina' strike up. The opener 'Mr. Katherine' and great 'The Roman Song' are other utter winners ( check the nutty 'Crazy' cover hidden on the end!).A wonderfully comfortable big beanbag of sound just screaming to be loved. It's all so easy to comply.__
Review by Matt Buchanan (Sydney Morning Herald)_The advent of another outfit of urban saddies walled in by harmonies, rusty guitar strings and a drowsy melancholy is not the sort of news that sends one bolting over pasture and field to yank the belltower rope.__But Red Wine & Blue dismisses such descriptions as wrongheaded, the songs here mature, diverse and sometimes, quite beautiful. Jodi Phillis, ex- of The Clouds, is in fine voice on Ivy and That Kind Of Love. But in the Dearhunters, composed also of members From You Am I and The Verys, everyone can sing. It's on tracks Another Heart, Ballerina & The Roman Song that the Dearhunters' sound is defined. The singing in unison unfurls like silk in a breeze. Tender, light or dreamy and dark, these songs are personal and affecting.__***1/2 out of 5__
Review by Iain Sheddon (The Australian)_Candle Records has a fast-growing reputation as one of Australia’s quality indie labels, and The Dearhunters’ album follows on impressively from the debut of stablemates Stella One Eleven. The Dearhunters, featuring Tim Oxley, Greg Hitchcock and former Clouds Raph Whittingham and Jodi Phillis, incline towards an understated country-pop hybrid on this debut CD. They’ve been listening to a few Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young records and perhaps the Beach Boys. They combine these influences with more traditional country elements. The opening Mr Katherine is languid but haunting in its simplicity, while Phillis’s vocals shimmer and shine on Ivy and Ballerina. At times it’s too saccharine, the harmonies in danger of slipping off into soporific west coast oblivion, but this is mostly offset by their deft ear for melody and the live-and-loose approach to recording.__*** out of 5__
Review by Matt Connors (Time Off Magazine)_In the main, The Dearhunters plough the neo-country vein of pop made famous by the likes of Wilco. The Dearhunters, though, manage to stamp it with their own style, as evinced by the West-Coast breeze of All Over Now, the somber lament of Ivy and the swirling harmonies of Ballerina. Vocals serve as the primary vehicle, from Tim Oxley’s smooth tone (much like that of Joe Pernice) to Jodi Phillis’ unmistakable set of chords with their ability to both soar and seduce. That said, much of the album’s resonance also stems from Greg Hitchock’s deft work on slide and Raph Whittingham’s restrained, toe-tapping beats. Although the predominant country feel stands-out, there’s a lot more going on across Red Wine and Blue. And best of all, it reveals new layers with each listen. An engaging debut. __**** out of 5__
Review By Matt Dornan - Comes With A Smile (UK)_"Some songs stop you dead in your tracks and Mr Katherine, the unlikely titled opener of Red Wine and Blue, is one such beast. It’s a dream of a track, found somewhere among the airwaves where The Jayhawks, Joe Pernice and Evan Dando collide, a lush, harmony drenched lazy pop gem the resultant cocktail. And then Tim Oxley steps out of the spotlight to allow fellow vocalist Jodi Phillis to take centre stage on the beautiful Heads, Greg Hitchcock’s slide guitar performing the pedal steel role perfectly atop a Maria McKee-lite epic. Delightful stuff and it doesn’t end there: “Broke my overbite falling down / watched my teeth float up the gutter / and down the drain” begins All Over Now, another Oxley-led classic with the layered harmonies and dynamics of the best of Citizens’ Utilities, five minutes of dream-inducing pleasure. Phillis weaves her magic again on Ivy, another perfectly judged ballad, harmonising with herself to stunning effect despite the rather soppy lyric (it’s about a baby, leave this stuff to our Natalie). Which adds up to the finest EP ever, right? Well yes but this is a twelve track album and things do waver around the middle, but not before the layered harmonies of Ballerina (somewhat like the similarly experimental Everything Means Nothing To Me by Elliott Smith) and the Dennis Wilson-esque falsetto of Another Heart maintain the impeccable standards set by the opening quartet. Starling never quite takes off (sorry), the religious overtones of Far from the Grace seem out of place and the lyrics of Clothes lack conviction, despite a nice Calexico-drive. The album takes a major upturn at the end, the lilting That Kind of Love a countrified Juliana Hatfield-esque beauty and closer Alien Ship another Oxley/Phillis victory for the hooks’n’harmony school of songwriting. At its best, as it is for 75% of its duration, Red Wine and Blue is perfect."