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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


Smiles Of Earth is out now!

Image: Thom Mitchell.

Melbourne band Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird have treated us all with their new album, Smiles Of Earth. To celebrate the release, vocalist and songwriter Lachlan Rose has shared with MILKY five books that have influenced his songwriting!

“Like most albums, Smiles of Earth has been a labour of deep love. Thwarted by lockdowns and the creative process itself, we attempted to make this record in numerous ways. Thanks to the patience and dedication of the band members, as well as the nurturing talents of producer Stephen Charles, the album was finally realised at The Aviary in Abbotsford, Melbourne. The inner themes of peacefulness and positive perspective truly levitated the performers throughout the recording process and they embodied its spirit wholeheartedly. I think that spirit is now undeniable in the sound of the album. In a word, this album was written to make you smile”. Rose shares of the record.

To celebrate the release, the band will embark on an east coast tour, kicking off with a set at Wanderer's Festival late next month. The run of shows will continue on to the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong, Ballarat, Adelaide and Melbourne, before wrapping up with sets at Euroa Music Festival and Backyard Festival in Victoria this November.


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.

Smiles Of Earth is out now!


23-25 September - Wanderer's Festival, NSW tickets

Friday 30 September - Mo's Desert Clubhouse, Gold Coast, Qld tickets

Saturday 1 October - Woolly Mammoth, Brisbane, Qld tickets

Thursday 6 October - The Cambridge, Newcastle, NSW tickets

Friday 7 October - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, NSW tickets

Saturday 8 October - La La La's Wollongong, NSW tickets

Friday 14 October - The Eastern, Ballarat, VICtickets

Saturday15 October - The Lab, Adelaide, SA tickets

Friday 21 October - The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC tickets

Saturday5 November - Euroa Music Festival, Euroa VIC tickets

Saturday 12 November - Backyard Festival, VIC tickets


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