Other Lives released their sophomore album, Tamer Animals, earlier this year. It’s not one of those albums that was created spontaneously in one session. The band spent 14 months crafting the arrangements and placing all the right sounds in all the right parts. Lead singer Jesse Tabish was quoted as saying ““There’s nothing like, ‘Hey, let’s rock out on this!’ It’s homemade in a way. For better or for worse, it’s all our sound.” The album is magnificent.
If you’ve fallen in love with the album but have never seen them live, this session will give you a deeper appreciation for the album and the band. Each musician in Other Lives is a multi-instrumentalist. As you watch them move around throughout songs, you’ll see guitars flung to backs to transition to keys. Lead guitars dropped to make room for horns or a violin. You’ll be captivated by Jenny Hsu on cello in “For 12″ or her antlers on “Tamer Animals” and then Colby Owens’ drumming takes your attention on “Dust Bowl II.” Or maybe it’s the bows streaking across guitars on that song. Or maybe the trumpet in the end. Or the acoustic.
And that’s when you realize that Other Lives is unlike most bands you’ve encountered. Jesse Tabish is technically a front man but every member plays an equal part. At shows, you’ll find yourself leaning left to right, on your tip-toes, jockeying for better vantage points to catch all the parts that make up this magical orchestration. With headphones on and eyes closed, you’ll become immersed in its atmosphere. That’s by design. Other Lives is a sound you wouldn’t expect out of a band with roots in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Or maybe it is born from Great Plains and wide expanses where anything goes, but careful attention must be paid to crafting boundaries and structure in an otherwise open tapestry. I’ve been claiming that the band is underrated, but perhaps their popularity will grow like the making of Tamer Animals or the way it settles in on its listener over time. It’s an organic process that takes time to reveal itself. That’s my hope.
As for the session production, we need to thank our videographers. With all the transitions and gear changes throughout the session and within each song, our video contributors Nathan Saks and Mark Smirl deserve high praise. Definitely not easy to capture all the activity, but they did an incredible job. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that Jesse Tabish wrote the guitar part and theme for “For 12″ while sitting under a bridge outside Shirk’s studio two years ago when they arrived early for our first live session with Other Lives.
Spend some time exploring each of those videos and keep a watch out for tour dates. They are a must see.
Video: Other Lives – For 12 (Live in Chicago at Shirk Music + Sound)
Video: Other Lives – Dust Bowl III (Live in Chicago at Shirk Music + Sound)
Video: Other Lives – Tamer Animals (Live in Chicago at Shirk Music + Sound)
Video: Other Lives – As I Lay My Head Down (Live in Chicago at Shirk Music + Sound)