This summer, if you find yourself feeling the urge to get lost in layers of sound, with epic orchestral arrangements and yearning melodies sweeping over you as you long for the elusive sun, seek out Other Lives, who release their second album, Tamer Animals, in August.

The languid string arrangements of first single ‘For 12’ caught the attention of Radiohead back in November, who gave the song a mention on their weekly blog chart. ‘Dust Bowl III’ is inspired by the haze that swept through the Southern Plains of the States in the 1930s, captured so thought-provokingly by John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath; close your eyes and you can almost picture lead singer Jesse Tabish wading through a storm of dust. “We used a lot of imagery in this record and in turn I think it gave it a cinematic feel, which we really like” he says. “‘Dust Bowl III’ for example has a very stark and desolate feel like in a film about the Dust Bowl. We would actually project Dust Bowl footage on the wall of our studio while working at one point.”

Other Lives are Tabish on piano, lead guitar and vocals, Josh Onstott on bass and organ, Jenny Hsu on cello and piano, Colby Owens on drums and Jonathon Mooney on piano and violin. Hailing from Stillwater, Oklahoma, the epicentre of the Red Dirt Music Scene, Other Lives are not new to the music industry, as Tabish was previously in Kunek with Hsu and Owens, as well as having played in punk bands as a teen. But how much have their surroundings influenced their music? “The Red Dirt Scene is very genre-specific, it’s just country and Red Dirt. There’s really not a big “scene” in Oklahoma, not to say there isn’t a lot of music. There are tons of great bands, but everyone’s kind of doing their own thing so you don’t have a random influx of bands that are doing what’s cool.”

Influenced by modern classical composers like Philip Glass and Ennio Morricone, Tamer Animals certainly stands out amongst this year’s releases. It was also painstakingly constructed. “We would record one instrument at a time so it would take a long time just to lay down our initial idea for the song, and sometimes it took a few tries to get it right. We intentionally forgot about what any of us played and thought more about what the song called for. Many times in the record a song written on guitar or piano would have neither in it once it was recorded. It took us a good 14 to 16 months to record and produce the record in our studio in Stillwater.” Upon listening to the 11 tracks that make up the album, we can only be grateful for their time and effort.

Tamer Animals is out on August 29th on PIAS.
Other Lives play The Lexington on August 18th.

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