Sydney 4-piece The Model School's eclectic evolution from masters of homespun suburban pop to purveyors of widescreen rock and roll continues apace with their new album Backwards Down The Highway(released Sep 20th). Built around the weatherbeaten vocals of songwriter Brendan Wixted the record heralds a full throttle trip through the heartland of classic FM rock, via a crooked detour past Laurel Canyon, early REM and Nebraska-era Springsteen, the songs twisting and turning through a landscape strewn with broken dreams, neon lights and faded summer memories.
The band recorded the album, their first since 2009's Memory Walls, over an 18 month period at Linear Studios in Sydney, completing the work at their home studio in the inner west. Mastered by the legendary Greg Calbi in NYC (Born To Run, Veckatimest), the record is a distillation of the band's unique oeuvre, an album of warmth, intrigue and pathos, with lyrics that deal with yearning for lost youth, mortality, and hope for what lies ahead, up around the bend.
Wixted's journey through the highways and byways of Arizona in 2010 sparked the genesis of the album, with many of the songs written whilst meandering through the desolate landscape alone without much more than a dictaphone and a freshly acquired 3/4 size guitar. Little did he realize at the time just how rich the songs would become once brought home - with Elvis Castro on lead guitar forging his own distinct sound born of cosmic country and 60's pop. Wixted then bunkered down in the Blue Mountains to finish writing the songs - with the wide open spaces, canyons and sense of aloneness syncing perfectly with the material. The last 2 tracks on the record were captured by unconventional means - "I had written Every Bed I Made during the day at home in the mountains - later that night a howling storm struck, providing the perfect backdrop... the version on the album is from that night". Similarly the vocals for the haunting View From The Woods were recorded whilst Wixted sat in his car surrounded by the dense and impenetrable eucalypts and fading mountain light. It's a fitting closer to the album, a haunting and unsettling tale that signals the strength of the human spirit to prevail, a simmering sonic assault against the dying of the light. The journey had come full circle.
released September 20, 2013
Recorded & Engineered by Wade Keighran & Chris Vallejo at Linear
Mixed by Chris Vallejo & Elvis Castro
Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, NYC
Additional recording by Elvis Castro in his attic, and
Brendan Wixted at home and in his car.