I don’t even want to look back at last week. But, we had songs, there were some really good songs coming out of a really awful week. Our friend Ram Vela and his band had a new single, plus it never hurts to get a Voxtrot tune in your inbox. Think I kept coming back to these Bastien Keb, Flowertown and Tan Cologne tunes the most, well, and that Tony Molina track. There’s about 20 jams to sort through, so find a favorite. Or don’t.
I’ve known Jesse Tabish since he was a teenager. Long before he took the stage opening for the likes of Radiohead with his band Other Lives. But, with the announcement of Cowboy Ballads Pt. 1, you can hear a confident songwriter building the world he’s slowly been building for himself over the last two decades. Everything feels huge and extravagant, like the score to a movie on TMC, though much of this new LP was recorded by Jesse and his wife Kim, as well as various other friends form his musical circle. I love the way the song has this natural swing to it, sort of a bossanova groove that rides on the undercurrent, bringing in the positivity that Jesse hopes to share in this new record. Cowboy Ballads Pt. 1 is out on October 21st via Play It Again Sam.
Considering the last week seemed sort of dull, at least in regards to live music about the town, we were really excited by the killer bill at The Parish, featuring two of our favorite acts of the moment, Other Lives and the Rosebuds–we were unaware local band O.A.X. (pronounced Oaks) was joining the night as well. As usual, the Parish had excellent sound, and air-conditioning, so it’s hard to find anything bad to say about the evening.
Originating in Stillwater, Oklahoma several years back, Other Lives are definitely a band you want to discover, if you haven’t already. Their sweeping and dramatic music was first introduced back in 2008 with an EP that consisted of some demos, as well as a taste of their true form. From there, they had me hooked, but some people are a little more picky about their musical appetite. However, I think it’s safe to say that if Other Lives didn’t have you after their first EP, or even their stunning debut, they should definitely have you at the end of Tamer Animals.
The album begins at a slow creep, as per suit of this band. Musically, the tempo may be slow, but it’s nowhere near boring or banal. Instead, they begin their assault on your being. “Dark Horse” starts with some clicky-clacky percussion, and the song builds on itself quickly to a slight crescendo, strings and all, at just over the minute mark. Then the sound cuts out for an instant, and Other Lives begin again. Jesse Tabish leads the way with his alluringly sinister, yet tender vocals. His voice has a very cohesive quality about it that allows it to coat the space in between the sprawling violin or jangly percussion in an epic light.
Following the opener in the song number two position comes “As I Lay My Head Down,” which picks up the pace, but does not skimp on the beauty that this band is so good at. It ebbs its way between sizzling and then cooled, trading back and forth with strings and pattering percussion. But Other Lives don’t stop their ascent to intense and moving music here. They continue this excellent two-song steak with a third: “For 12.” On this one, you have the gentle guitar pulling at the back of your mind, while the “oohs” combine with instruments to give a spine tingling effect. Whether this band knows it or not, their efforts are extremely goose bump-inducing.
So when Other Lives reaches the fourth and title track, “Tamer Animals,” there is no surprise that it’s love at first listen once again. With its faded and fuzzy drums and omnipresent piano, it’s as close as this band gets to pop without losing their epic-ness. Like the first four tracks, the rest of the album follows suit: cathartic, and mildly explosive. Highlights include “Old Statues” and “Heading East,” both of which encompass the delicate elegance that is so pertinent to this band. To be honest, I didn’t find a track that I didn’t like; they were all that good.
Despite its name, there really isn’t too much “tame” about this album. Other Lives have evolved into a more confident beast here than that of their previous works, but they still keep a firm grasp on such a swelling sound.[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/otherlives_tameranimals.mp3]
Download: Other Lives – Tamer Animals [MP3]
On a quiet Monday evening, The Parish continued its recent tradition of well-produced shows as they put on a solid bill, with ATH favorites Other Lives and Elvis Perkins joined by his new band Dearland, supplying the talent. An orchestral grab bag of instrumentation ranging from cellos to trombones, to flutes, a harmonium and organs were laid upon the stage foreshadowing an ambitious evening of unpolluted musical ability in front of a very attentive audience. Follow the jump to continue reading our review.
Other Lives have gone through exponential changes since their early debut under the name of Kunek. Back then, the band was known for enchanting audiences, willing them into a silent submission. The power of the band still exists, though their self-titled debut [of sorts] shows that the band is willing to crawl out from beneath the Radiohead similarities into their own bright future.
We can get that comparison out of the way immediately; the only resemblance the band has to Thom Yorke’s posse is in the resonance of singer Jesse Tabish at certain points, but that is probably where you must draw the line in the sand. Sure, the sounds are familiar, but they are approached with an entirely new set of lungs that allows for the band to breathe on its own.
Take, for example, “Black Tables” which begins slowly with a darkened piano progression, as strings wrap themselves tightly around each note, clearing the way for Jesse Tabish to lay down his lyrics. Almost two minutes pass in the song where there is little else besides the piano, strings and vocals. Then, at the 2’48 mark in the song, the drums kick in, and the song takes off like a rocket blasting into the atmosphere of dense sounds. This is precisely where Other Lives will take you, as they don’t rest on the traditional songwriting strategies. Instead, they create an album full of miniature movements; these movements sometimes exist within songs themselves, often changing on the spur of a movement.
“E Minor” is one of the highlights, well, if you were to pick up a particular highlight, as close listeners will hear the strumming on the guitar as the piano playfully meanders through the background. Tabish’s voice hits a different pitch at several moments, exposing his versatility. This immediately followed by “Paper Cities,” which seems to broach the subject of war, or at least the loss of certain aspects of a modern society. One could consider this a single, if the band were capable of creating something as basic as a single, but even this song seems to go beyond those expectations of traditional singles.
The band even has the ability to throw a more light-hearted tune in the end when they offer up “AM Theme.” Sure, it maintains the solemenity of the earlier tracks, but there is something brighter bubbling beneath the surface of the song itself. Perhaps the brevity of the tune allows for it to open up quickly, before its able to branch off into something more epic; it does go into the song “Epic,” however, which ends the album.
This album is sure to be an eye-opener to many, as the band gradually begins to pick up fans along the way. It’s an interesting listen to say the least, and one that changes with each song. Other Lives have created an album of diverse sounds and uniquely moving muiscal movements.[audio:https://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/03-black-tables.mp3]
Download: Other Lives – Black Tables [MP3]
Saturday night was probably not the most enjoyable evening on which to catch a show, as it was freezing cold here in Austin, but many brave souls opted to push through the wintry weather in pursuit of a good evening of music. Those in attendance were able to catch Dawes, Other Lives and Delta Spirit honing their skills on stage. Here are our thoughts on the evening.