There’s generally an accepted order of things in the music industry: make it big and you can pretty much do whatever you want. This doesn’t just extend to getting your pet monkey seized by German airport security, throwing on-stage tantrums, publicly urinating in buckets and leaving your drugs out when police are investigating you for an egging-offence, because that alone would, well, make you a bit of a d*ck. Once you’ve amassed an acceptable following and paid your dues to the industry you are then permitted to try your hand at other musical pursuits; Christina Aquilera tried the 1920’s for a while and that kind of worked… while the Beatles departed on a long and divaricating road, releasing tracks like Within You Without You and Yellow Submarine. Seldom however, in fact never in my own experience, do you come across such fearless abandon in a new or unsigned act.
When I first listened to Cousin Avi a few months ago during my weekly A&R trawl I had them down as ska/reggae outfit – I defy you to listen to ‘Don’t Be Shy’ and not be as hasty, don’t judge me. Rife with palm muting and vocal-harmony, it’s almost UB40 patting One-Direction’s ‘You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful’ on the head and pushing it to one side like, “you tried, kid”.
Cousin Avi-Don’t Be Shy
I know now better. Cousin Avi are not a ska/reggae band; I’m not even sure they’re a band, singular. A couple of clicks through their YouTube channel and you’re met with an old school rock band, a blues ensemble, an introspective acoustic act, a ska/reggae group and even some funk (please note this list is dubiously exhaustive). Objectively this does sound like a novice genre-hunt, an act searching for a home, but the incredible thing about this band is that they have multiple musical-citizenship. Cousin Avi aren’t trying their hand at new musical pursuits, they’re simply trying to get you to listen to their new song.
Owning this genre-fluidity, the band say they pride themselves on writing songs that appeal to virtually everyone. While this might reek of conformity and commercialism in other acts, Cousin Avi aren’t dancing for public favour, they know full well you’re going to like what you hear. They also know you’ll know it’s them you’re liking, keeping up an irrefutable signature that transcends their versatility. Whether it’s Hemming’s masterfully seductive guitar, Iannuzzi’s impressively skillful swagger on vocals or just the fact that the music is relentlessly cool, you might be clueless as to their next move but you’re left in no doubt who’s making it.
Cousin Avi-Sexy Bitch
With 3 EPs, 2 albums, tours spanning Europe and South America, and countless UK appearances already filling out their CV, Cousin Avi look to be gaining unstoppable momentum as more and more people fall in love with their unique style. I’ve seen the word “infectious” spread all over their media coverage like, well, a rash… Being of stubborn resolution, I refuse to conform no matter how acute an observation this is. I now submit “irresistible”. It’s less clinical and more sensual – a concept befitting an act making music that speaks to your heart rather than just your tympanic membrane.
Featured Photo Credit: Alex Rawson Photography