Comprised of Jesse Tabish (piano, guitar, lead vocals) Jonathon Mooney (piano,violin, guitar, percussion, trumpet) Josh Onstott (bass, keys, percussion, guitar, backing vocals), the Stillwater, OK-based trio Other Lives initially formed back in 2004, recording and releasing an album under the name Kunek before changing their name; as Other Lives, the trio have received national attention across the blogosphere for a lush orchestrated sound that channels Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The National and Ocean Rain-era Echo and the Bunnymen but with the sort of moodiness that suggests that the trio had been listening to Joy Division, Interpol and The Doors.
Now if you’ve been following JOVM for a while, you may have remembered that I had written about “Reconfiguration” off the band’s third full-length effort, Rituals, which was released last month. The recording sessions for the album ah the band moving from their hometown of Stillwater, OK to Portland, OR. And as the band’s frontperson, Jesse Tabish explained, “For the first times in our lives we were moving off on our own away from our families and kind of coming into our own. I wanted the songs to reflect that new spirit.” And unsurprisingly, that experience of being isolated on the road, and attempting to expand their sound was a major influence on the entire writing process of Rituals. “Reconfiguration” was an ominously atmospheric track, comprised of swirling electronics, gently plinking keys, angular bursts of guitar, skittering percussion and subtle bursts of strings paired with crooned vocals that express an aching vulnerability and regret – simultaneously and within the turn of a phrase. And with subtly jazz phrasing, the song managed to bear a resemblance to The Darcy’s fantastic album Warring as the track effortlessly meshes genres with an art school sheen but with an equal accessibility.
A couple of months ago, Other Lives were invited to record a session at Music Apartment, and that session included Rituals’ single “Easy Way Out.” And the single is a lush, swooning, cinematic track consisting of twisting and turning xylophone chords that propel the song forward, blasts of Morricone-like horns, swirling electronics, subtly twangy guitars and Tabish’s gorgeous baritone croon. While the song easily sounds as though it could easily be on the soundtrack of a dramatic, swooning period piece, it captures and evokes the inherent anxiety over the changing mechanisms and power structure that come up in every relationship.