Other Lives – the first big surprise of 2009. [Album Review, SXSW 2009]

by Woody on February 17, 2009

other lives

Other Lives is the name of an audio drama based on the television series Doctor Who.‚  Not sure if the band from Stillwater, Oklahoma had the BBC show in mind when coming up with names, but I’m guessing they had Radiohead’s Hail To The Thief playing when composing the tracks on their soon to be released debut album on the ATO imprint TBD Records.‚  By the way, this is the same ATO that released Radiohead’s 2007 classic In Rainbows.‚  The influence is rather clear in my opinion, although the band also shares a number of similarities with other indie acts like Midlake.

Life can be fortuitous, and so it was that I was listening to the LP on the way downtown late last week, loving it, when I found out that they were opening for Delta Spirit on Valentines Day at the Double Door.‚  After somehow securing the hall pass from my wife, I caught them with Woody, Shirk and Drinking Buddy (please hold off on the homophobic snickering comments).‚  I will also refrain from reviewing an awesome, raucous show put on by Delta Spirit to concentrate on Other Lives.

This is one of the better albums to recently come across the wire.‚  It’s melodic and moody with lyrical depth.‚  The band is comprised of five members, but lead vocalist Jesse Tabish is the clear driving force.‚  It combines solid vocals, strong guitar work, piano and, a pleasant surprise, a cellist.‚  What is it about women behind string instruments that make them so appealing?‚  Tabish even has a bit of a Thom Yorkian presence, but the dude needs a little work on the beard grooming.‚  The band is beginning to garner some well-deserved recognition having been singled out on iTunes as one of the rising stars of indie rock.

Check out the following tracks, which are a good representative of the album and exemplify the range of their style.‚  “E Minor” is an interesting, sprawling track that also seems to have some E Minor 7 in it as well (shameless plug letting you know that I can play guitar). Also, if you get a chance to see these guys with Delta Spirit, or at SxSW, you will not be disappointed.‚  The album will be released on March 31st and I think it’s is going to be one of the big surprises in 2009.

MySpace | ATO Records

Other Lives – Black Tables

Other Lives – Paper Cities

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Shirk February 17, 2009 at 8:28 am

I’ve been listening to this album constantly since Friday evening when I first heard it. It is masterfully recorded. It’s dark but full of melody and rich textures. While reminding me of some Radiohead stuff, it really takes me to a similar place that Beck’s “Sea Change”did. After looking into the credits, I learned that Darrell Thorp, who engineered “Other Lives”, also worked on “Sea Change” and “Hail To The Thief”. Go figure. All credits and name dropping aside…this is a fantastic album. I LOVE IT!

My wife is already sick of hearing me rave about them. However, she was cool enough (and I owe her big for this) to let me sneak away to the Double Door after our Valentines Day dinner to catch some of their set. I won’t be hearing the end of that too soon. But thank you, honey, you’re the best!

Woody February 17, 2009 at 8:43 am

Just an absolute stunner of an album. After Nirvana’s Unplugged set way back when, I always asked why more bands don’t incorporate a cello into the mix. The deep rich sound it gives off works on so many levels on the disc. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t have the mix good enough to hear Jenny Hsu at The Double Door. Needn’t worry, you could hear her coming through loud and clear on the cello. couldn’t hear her vocals but I could live with that as Jesse Tabish more than made up for it. He is dynamic front man with the indie required bushy beard.

I haven’t been this jazzed about a new band since I heard The Fleet Foxes for the first time.

Phillip March 23, 2009 at 11:52 am

I can’t say enough about this group. Evolved from the original band, Kunek, the core is still well intact. If you’re interested, check out their first release ‘Flight of the Flynns’.

Jesse and the entire group are truely talented. While they may have been influenced by some notable and mainstream sounds, every note Other Lives records is composed. Their attention to musical detail and the shear depth contained within the lyrics should be more than enough reason to consider this as a dark horse for the finest album of 2009.

Stillwater would never have felt the same without the countless shows they provided throughout my stay. Jesse and Other Lives deserve every inch of success and notoriety from this even though they would probably politely decline it. I’m just upset Jesse isn’t giving music and guitar lessons at Daddy O’s any longer. lol Congrats guys!

Shirk March 23, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Other Lives was my favorite set of SXSW. Got to chat with the band at various places throughout the week. Hopefully we can get them in for a session once they head back this way…Jesse seemed into it when I spoke to him. Phillip, when you wrote “every note Other Lives records is composed” I completely know what you mean. Everything has it’s place and feels very well thought out …on the album , and on the stage. A truly impressive band. I have a video of them covering “The Partisan” by Leonard Cohen at the Filter Magazine dayparty. We’ll see if we can get that posted soon.

Bob K August 15, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Just saw Other Lives open for Bat for Lashes and they blew me away. Great live show and CD. Other Lives reminds me more of Fleet Foxes than Radiohead, but neither band really accurately describes Other Lives’ unique sound. Jesse Tabish’s vocals are captivatingly melodic. The bands’ arrangements are ambitious, but not overly so. Love, love, love Jenny Hsu’s cello playing, too.

Matt September 2, 2009 at 7:25 am

I too saw them at the Double Door way back when and then again when they came back, also with Delta Spirit, during Lollapalooza. It is great that both bands are getting some much warranted notoriety. The Other Lives put on great shows both times however, I walked in fresh at the Double Door show and was blown away.

ZANDRI January 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I can seriously say that Other Lives is the best band of 2009. I hope these guys keep up with the awesome music they have accomplished to create. Not any band can come up with such an awesome sound. Other Lives is one of the few bands I can listen to for hours. The whole thing is just so beautifully composed.

Kristijonas July 15, 2010 at 11:26 am

I completely agree with you – I caught a little bit of this band’s music at a local Starbucks once and just had to find out more. Purchased it from iTunes and have been loving it ever since. Beautifully composed, richly textured and haunting. An absolute stunner of an album – I hope Other Lives keep making music.

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