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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


Red Dirt Angel is out now!

Image: Supplied.

Melbourne band Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird recently treated us all with their new single, Red Dirt Angel. To celebrate the release, frontman and songwriter Lachlan Rose has shared with MILKY five books that have influenced his songwriting!

“An Australia dreamscape, Red Dirt Angel was the first song that opened up the doors to ‘Smiles of Earth’ - the album it now belongs to. Somewhere during our lengthy Melbourne lockdowns I began dreaming constantly of the outback. The red dirt angel was a faceless usher who continuously led me through the arid, red-earth deserts of Australia. I longed to be behind the wheel of a filthy car with no real destination. For one reason or another, that visual represented ultimate freedom for me, which is the one thing none of us had. The song followed shortly. It’s unapologetically Australian, euphoric and a contribution to the wonderful world of road trip music.” Rose shares of the track.


Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest and Death’s End comprise what I consider to be the Lord of the Rings of Sci-Fi. This series is utterly biblical. Totally unforgiving conceptual wizardry. It completely compromises character depth in the service of it’s mind-bending theoretical science, but you just don’t give a shit. It hurls you swiftly from the Communist Revolution in 1940’s Beijing to first contact with aliens, to Earth space fleets to billions of years in the future, back to 1400s Constantinople, into the virtual world and out into the 11th dimension.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt my mind inflate so greatly to accomodate the ideas suggested by Cixin Liu’s writing. I think it ultimately expresses a fairly cynical perspective on humanity, but to know that one person was entertaining so much imagination and substantiating it with such profound scientific knowledge really leaves me in awe of the human mind and excited for the future of Earth.


As it is for many people, Frankenstein was really my introduction to gothic literature. The genre has since become a deep love of mine and infused my personality and music with a playful reverence for darkness. Firstly, Mary Shelley was 18 when she wrote it in the early 19th century. Wild. Secondly, I couldn’t believe how relatable Frankenstein’s Monster was. So different to how he’s portrayed in so many films. He’s articulate, sensitive, poetic, and ultimately just wants to be loved. The way Shelley wove such relatable and human traits into such an over-the-top creature just blew my mind and still does. It’s such a powerful reminder of how beautiful art works. It can take raw, relatable humanity and dress it up in the most lavish imagination, and it only drives the point home further.


Paul Jennings is a hero of mine who sits upon the highest pedestal amongst the musical greats. His stories that ended up comprising the first few seasons of Round the Twist are a part of my DNA. My brothers and I really consider them sacred. I think specifically for me it’s all about the ‘sad ghost’. His stories were filled with haunting characters who weren’t necessarily trying to terrify anyone. That’s not to say they weren’t scary, but they weren’t trying to be - and that’s key. It infused us all with a love for the stranger, darker elements of the human experience. These supernatural weirdos all had something of value to share if you just learned to listen to them.


I’ve normally got my mind steeped in older fantasy and sci-fi. It’s definitely my happy place but it means I often miss more contemporary writers. A friend of mine recommended Hurricane Season as an antidote to this and I’m still recovering from it a year later. This book is dark, it’s dirty, it’s sweaty, it’s magic. I heard it described as essentially just being 5 paragraphs and it’s kind of true. Melchor has seemingly vomited this book out. It feels like the hell-mouth spat out the manuscript and someone just walked past, picked it up with oven-mitts and published it. I am so in awe of her ability to express her inner darkness so courageously and unapologetically. Sometimes I think I’m being honest in my songwriting, and then something like Hurricane Season comes along and reminds me to dig a little deeper.


In a word, this book is unique. Piranesi is one of the most loveable and delightful characters I’ve ever found squished onto a page. The way his weird and wonderful world is slowly illuminated for the reader is beguiling and charmingly magical. Clarke is such a master of control. What she chooses not to reveal to the reader is just as important as what she does. A mansion with clouds in the attic, oceans in the basement and mysterious characters roaming its halls. It’s imagination at its finest and exquisitely written. It reminds me to follow the inner voice that feels the least familiar. Hopefully it won’t be another 12 years until her next book.

Red Dirt Angel is out now!


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