Other Lives | The Audio Perv
Posts Tagged ‘Other Lives’
05 Nov

Words by Ace Ubas, Photos by Marcello Ambriz

Saturday night at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles was a special night for Oklahoma-based quintet Other Lives as it marked their 10-year anniversary as a band. But if you’ve been following them for the past couple of years, that’s not the only thing that makes them special. In the past, they’ve opened for seminal acts such as Radiohead and Bon Iver, and rode the festival circuit that included Coachella. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that they’ve been featured prominently by radio stations such as KEXP and KCRW. That proved to be more than enough to propel them out of the support role and into the headlining role. And if you ask me and the sold-out LA crowd, it’s been long overdue.

A lot of bands have been coming out of the woodwork as of late, bearing with them a folk/Americana-inspired sound. But what makes Other Lives stand out is their ability fuse orchestral pop with folk rock while adding a dash of world music. On their stellar album Tamer Animals, their cocktail of a sound may sound subtle (perhaps due to the mix). I don’t want to state the obvious, but it’s more vivid and lucid in a live setting yet it’s also complex. And you can’t help but immediately imagine the band play in a natural and organic setting such as a cave (ala Silver Jews) or smack dab in the middle of the woods.

But for the 60 minutes that Other Lives conquered the stage, they let their music create the environment instead, with the slew of instruments they had on hand and dimming globe lights that adorned the stage. They set the mood for the night by beginning their set with wavering ambient soundscapes that filled the room quickly before the curtains even parted, acting as a segue into opener “Dark Horse.”

It’s easy to liken their music to, say, the forestation of California’s Central Coast: lush, dense, expansive, and beautiful. What’s even more impressive is the complexity of the arrangement in some of their songs such as “As I Lay My Head Down.” The whole song is filled with shifting time signatures that is rich with melodies. Jesse Tabish’s vocals resemble a lower Thom Yorke, while cellist/back-up vocalist Jenny Hsu’s haunting vocal melodies lurk throughout. Even more is their creativity, using antler bells at the beginning of the song and castanets that added a Spanish rhythm during the second half.

Their experience as a band together showed greatly on “Landforms” and “Desert,” two songs that are quite distinct from one another yet the transition between the two was made seamless. The pastoral folk sound of the former highlighted the orchestral string arrangement which contrasted nicely with the horn-led Persian melodies that filled the latter. But it was the band’s tribal prowess that provided the cinematic shift in between the songs, thanks to Jon Mooney’s thundering rhythm on the timpani.

While some of the influences of Other Lives are global, they showed that the root of their sound still lays in the foundation of their native state. Fan-favorite “For 12” saw Tabish on an acoustic guitar playing riffs reminiscent of a 60s western while displaying his vocal versatility, singing with a soaring falsetto during the chorus. He then described “Dust Bowl III” a “real Oklahoma song” with its gentle guitar plucking that built-up a mesmerizing crescendo until everything came crashing down with Colby Owens’ wrenching percussion.

A few new songs made their way into the set including a couple from the recently-released Mind the Gap EP. The most notable and distinct difference with these songs was that they were more straightforward and minimal in structure. Rather than going with a more complex approach, they decided simplicity was best with “Take Us Alive,” a more direct folk number. But on “Dead Can,” they steered their sound in a complete 180 and showed that Radiohead’s presence rubbed-off on them during their tour. Rather than have organic instrumentation as the basis of the song, it’s the subtle and downtempo electronic beats that drove it (think Kid A and OK Computer). You’d expect it to sound off-putting and out-of-place, but they pulled it off well with the smooth bass line holding it all together.

The encore began with Tabish coming back on stage solo to do a beautiful rendition of the piano ballad “Black Table,” and then ending with two new unknown songs with the last being described as “horse ridin’ shit” by Tabish. Perhaps a possible hint on a more Western-style sound?

Other Lives’ performance was as close to perfect as it could get. When you see a band, you always come into the venue with a certain expectation; most of the time it’s rather high. But it’s not often you see a band shatter that expectation while setting the standard even higher. That’s what Other Lives did. They approach the folk genre with a Classical Minimalist mindset and experiment with it in different kinds of ways. They’ve made it known that masters such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass are huge influences. And at the same time, they incorporate intricate harmonies, such as on “Tamer Animals,” that are reminiscent of Fleet Foxes. It results in vast polyrhythmic layers, orchestral melodies and tightly-woven structure of the songs that make those influences more explicit. That’s when you know there’s something special brewing in the small town of Stillwater, Oklahoma.

26 Sep

LA public radio station KCRW (89.9FM and KCRW.com) will celebrate the holiday season by bringing together some of our favorite artists for two nights of music at the intimate Orpheum Theatre, a newly-restored Downtown landmark celebrating it’s 85th anniversary this year.

The “Are Friends Eclectic?” concerts will take place on Friday, December 2 and Saturday, December 3 with different lineups each night and special guests. Proceeds will go towards supporting the station’s programming.

Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff will headline on December 2, joined by the joyful pop sounds of Brett Dennen, LA’s favorite world fusion band Fool’s Gold, the slightly psychedelic, occasionally funky White Denim, the epic chamber pop of Oklahoma’s Other Lives – who just last week opened for Bon Iver – and the sensual and spiritual stylings of Mia Doi Todd.

The December 3 lineup features folk-rock renaissance man Sam Beam with his band Iron & Wine, along with the ear-pleasing harmonies of local favorites The Belle Brigade, jaw-dropping guitar and vocals from UK blues diva Anna Calvi, darling Malaysian pop crooner Zee Avi, and the homespun retro-country sound of The Secret Sisters, who have opened for Paul Simon and count T Bone Burnett and Jack White amongst their fans.

“When envisioning a holiday concert to celebrate KCRW, I wanted to bring it back to basics and create an event that resonated with the spirit of the season. It’s simply a stellar lineup of artists we’re really excited about, capturing an intimacy to stir the soul,“ said KCRW Music Director and Host of Morning Becomes Eclectic Jason Bentley.

Tickets go on sale to KCRW members first on Tuesday, October 4 at 10am on KCRW.com. Tickets become available to the general public beginning Tuesday, October 11 at 10am. Ticket prices vary based on seating, from $55 to $200. It’s an all ages show.

WHAT: “Are Friends Eclectic?” Holiday Shows
WHEN: Friday, December 2 and Saturday, December 3
WHERE: Orpheum Theatre
842 S Broadway
Los Angeles, California 90014
TIME: 8pm
TICKETS: From $55 to $200 (All Ages)
DETAILS & TICKETS: http://www.kcrw.com/holidayshow

About KCRW: KCRW-FM, licensed to Santa Monica College, is National Public Radio’s flagship station for Southern California. The station serves Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura Counties, as well as parts of San Diego, San Bernardino, Kern, and Santa Barbara Counties and the greater Palm Springs area. Check here for our coverage area: http://www.kcrw.com/about/coverage-map

About The Orpheum Theatre: Celebrating its 85th anniversary, The Orpheum Theatre is one of L.A.’s most venerable landmarks. This newly-restored Downtown gem stands as a major Los Angeles entertainment venue, having hosted an array of concerts, exclusive private parties, and theatrical productions including a young Judy Garland’s vaudeville performance in 1933. For more information, visit http://www.laorpheum.com.

07 Feb

The 10th anniversary of Sasquatch! Music Festival will proudly feature:

Foo Fighters, Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse , Wilco, The Flaming Lips (performing The Soft Bulletin & more), The Decemberists, Bright Eyes, Iron & Wine, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Bassnectar, Robyn, Flogging Molly, Death From Above 1979, Pink Martini, Cold War Kids, Old 97’s, Ratatat, Wolf Parade, Chromeo, Guided By Voices, Yeasayer, Beach House, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Local Natives, Matt & Kim, Deerhunter, Mstrkrft, Trailer Park Boys, Sleigh Bells, Major Lazer, Flying Lotus, Skrillex, Tokyo Police Club, Fitz & The Tantrums, !!!, Archers of Loaf, Against Me!, The Thermals, Best Coast, CSS, Surfer Blood, Jenny & Johnny, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Head & The Heart, Bonobo (DJ Set), City and Colour, Reggie Watts, K-Os, Gayngs, Tim Minchin, The Drums, The Radio Dept, Young the Giant, The Antlers, Sharon Van Etten, Villagers, Stornoway, Aloe Blacc, Black Mountain, Moondoggies, Noah & The Whale, Sam Roberts Band, Secret Sisters, Twin Shadow, Das Racist, Wye Oak, Tig Notaro, Wheedle’s Groove, Smith Westerns, Rival Schools, Foster the People, Alberta Cross, S. Carey, White Denim, Washed Out, Gold Panda, Dan Mangan, Axis of Awesome, The Globes, Cotton Jones, Jaill, Mad Rad, Basia Bulat, Other Lives, The Bronx, White Arrows, Pepper Rabbit, Talkdemonic, Rebecca Gates and The Consortium, The Young Evils, and more!

Following last year’s fastest sellout ever, record attendance and rave reviews from national media, Sasquatch adds a fourth day and celebrates its 10th year of being what SPIN hails as “a pick-your-poison selection for your party at the edge of the earth,” May 27-30 (Memorial Day Weekend) at The Gorge in Quincy, WA.

Esurance, the direct-to-consumer personal car insurance company, will return in 2011 as the title sponsor for the Sasquatch! Music Festival. A green sponsor of the event since 2007, Esurance will continue its ongoing drive toward a planet-friendly festival. Following on the success of 2010′s carpooling initiatives, the eco-conscious insurance company will again provide this year’s concertgoers with multiple ridesharing opportunities through partner Zimride. Esurance also plans to implement new programs aimed at maximizing the concert experience for music lovers, while continuing to promote a more sustainable event.

After a successful 2010 partnership with Sasquatch, Honda returns for 2011 with the Honda Bigfoot Stage and Honda Zone. The Honda Zone will feature the all-new Civic along with the CR-Z sport hybrid coupe. The Honda Zone will be an attraction offering festival goers activities and prizes. Additionally, Sasquatch’s carbon offsets will be provided by Honda through Carbon Harmony.