THE SMOKING FLOWERS:
Though Scott Collins doesn’t say that going to Graceland to see Elvis Presley in his coffin influenced his future as a musician, it’s hard to believe it didn’t have an undeniable effect on his 3-year-old self. For Kim Collins, her future career as a singer/songwriter may have been a bit more predestined. For Kim, who grew up with a mother who was a singer and guitarist in a folk band, The Travelers, in the sixties, it was probably bred in the bone.
Kim (vocals/mandolin/accordion/guitar/drums), who had her own rock band, Kim’s Fable, for over 10 years before she and Scott founded The Smoking Flowers, cites influences that range from Led Zeppelin to The Beatles to Gillian Welch. For Scott (vocals/guitar), the answer ultimately comes down to just two words: Neil Young.
The two played and toured together for several years in an edgy alt-country band, Pale Blue Dot, before they ever truly wrote their first song together, “Someday.” Out of that, the couple says, came The Smoking Flowers, Kim and Scott Collins’s East Nashville-based band, a hybrid blend of rock, blues, country, and an American sound Kim calls Southern Gothic folk.
Aaron Mortenson and Jay Rutherford set out to make their debut Los Colognes album in the mold of the great JJ Cale records of the ‘70s. Working Together is parched desert country blues at its best—full of relationships gone south, one-liners that make you think twice, and slow-burning boogie woogie.
On "Working Together, " the album’s first single, Jay sings about trading off domestic duties. “Honey, I’ll grant your wishes, if you mow the yard,” he sings, over an impossibly feel-good summer groove. “Working together is easy, but living together is hard,” he admits, though Los Colognes make living look pretty easy.
“My favorite writers, like Cale and Prine, it’s that little twist that makes them great,” says Jay. “It’s like a good blues song—you don’t need 15 lines. You need four really good ones,” adds Mort, who acts as Jay’s lyrical filter and shares songwriting credit on the album.
Working Together’s last song, “Bird of Paradise,” creates a hazy, ambient dreamscape to end the record. “You’re a bird of paradise flying over me,” sings Jay. “I’m an ancient beach, you’re the tide / Nobody knows if it’s low or it’s high.”
Though Working Together deals with the unraveling of one particular relationship, Los Colognes have distilled things here to their universal core. After a decades-long musical partnership—writing 500 shitty songs together, Mort jokes, and fully finding their sound—this is the good stuff.