One of our local indie favorites is the fabulous Cousin Tony’s All-New Firebirdand we’re especially excited today as it’s the release day of their third studio album, Smiles of the Earth. The band is well known for their gender hopping across and within tracks, but this album has cohesion across all ten songs with themes of love, lost love as well as observation and fantasy. And, if you dig a good horn section, then this album will stoke your fire. The horns, for which the group is famous, are well placed throughout.
Over the past few months, the band has nurtured the likes of the album, via singles “When This Is Over”, “Bluestone”, “Red Dirt Angel” and most recently “Every Morning, It Breaks”. The group is a mine of talent. Lead singer, piano, guitarist and songwriter Rose Lachlanleads the way, with his voice beautifully complemented by the talented Francesca Gonzales which also vibrates the keytar in their concerts. Also on vocals and guitar is Rock Simonsonwith Matthew Hague on bass, Nicholas Reid on drums and percussion and Olivier Whitehead on the saxophone.
Their live shows are always outstanding. They are on my must-have when they come to Sydney. To launch the album, the group organizes a series of concerts on the east coast of Australia from the end of September. The dates are below.
The band identified their wish for the album. They said “This album is about making people ‘smile’.” We think they achieved it in spades. Listen to him.
To celebrate the release of Smiles of the Earth, the band put together a playlist for AU of the songs that helped inspire the album. So press
Songs that inspired the album Smiles of the Earth
Antony & The Johnsons – “A Love Handful”
Anthonynow known as Anohni, and the Johnsons have fascinated me since I was a teenager. His song “For Today I Am A Boy” crawled under my skin when I was really starting to think about songwriting. What she was doing was pretty inexplicable to me, and still is, which is why I keep coming back to it. She makes me feel like a member of the human race; like a human creature with deep feelings in a confusing and beautiful world. “Fistful of Love” encapsulates this perfect balance of really deep ingredients for me. Its subject matter is dark, its execution holy, its arrangement so polished yet gloriously flawed and raw. The ultimate piano ballad punctuated with brass. He set the tone for the entire Smiles of Earth approach.
Primal Scream – “Come Together”
Cousin Tony is always praised for smashing such disparate musical particles together. This is something that has always come quite naturally to me, but sometimes requires a lot of internal permissions. “Come Together” is the gold standard for that. The sampled lyrics literally list different genres:
Today on this program you will hear the gospel
And the rhythm and the blues and the jazz
These are just labels
We know music is music
They’re so fearless in genres that collide, especially in this song, and the result is just huge. It’s a circus. But he knows what it is and he totally nails it. Tremendous.
The Saints – “Know Your Product”
As The Saints, my parents grew up in Brisbane in the 60s/70s. When Chris Bailey (singer) passed away last year, the Saints have been pushed back into our lives in a big way. Similar to “Fistful of Love” – the horns in this particular song elevate it to new heights. He really inspired the brass on “When This Is Over” in particular.
Blur – “The Universal”
I have released this song on many special occasions in my life. As the name suggests, it speaks of a sense of oneness with the universe itself. When those rare moments happen, when I feel like the waveforms just lined up for a moment, “The Universal” lights up. fall out weren’t afraid to go big, and this song is an example of that. It could really, really, really happen.
Hans Zimmer – “Cornfield Chase” (Interstellar)
When I was writing “Beauty & Doom”, I kept playing these organ arpeggios. My brother overheard it and said it sounded like “Interstellar Rock n’ Roll”. He totally nailed it. Hans’ score for Interstellar is as good as it gets in my book. I studied film music and composition and it has always been a top notch reference. Musically it is understated and works with the church organ to let the instrument speak for itself. The organ was always a direct voice to the sky, which was the perfect choice for Interstellar and exactly what I needed to finish the album.
Yo La Tengo – “Dream Dream Away”
I could really choose any song from the YLT album There’s a riot going on. They are so textured and soft. But you also see them live and it’s a completely distorted shoe showdown. But this album really showed me what it meant to slow down and listen to your bandmates. I wrote this song called “Happy Place” which to me is basically a tribute to Yo La Tengo and those kinds of groups. It’s just a groove, a place, that we all have to nurture together and live together. We are responsible for it.
Big Thief – “Cattails”
Adrianne Lenker and the music of big thief were only really beginning to sink their tendrils toward the cock of me doing Smiles of the Earth. But the live version of “Cattails” was the nail in the coffin. It has really subtle odd timing which I love. Irregular timing can often distract and concern the songwriter more than the audience, but Big Thief is not that kind of band. It’s a subtle trick that adds so much quirkiness and playfulness to the feel. I like the search for this balance. Our song “Gabriel’s Horn” fits in this line. Let’s hope the public knows it’s for them!
COUSIN TONYNEW FIREBIRD TOUR DATES
September 23-25 – Wanderer’s Festival, NSW
Friday September 30 – Mo’s Desert Clubhouse, Gold Coast, Qld
Saturday October 1 – Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane, Qld
Thursday October 6 – The Cambridge, Newcastle, NSW
Friday October 7 – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 8 October – La La La’s Wollongong, NSW
Friday October 14 – The Eastern, Ballarat, VIC
Saturday October 15 – The Lab, Adelaide, SA
Friday, October 21 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday November 5 – Euroa Music Festival, Euroa VIC
Saturday, November 12 – Backyard Festival, VIC
More to explore on the AU: