Oklahoma has songwriters Rogers and Hammerstein to blame for the rest of the country’s perception that it’s only a place full of waving wheat and wind sweeping down the plain. Luckily, the Panhandle State can also claim ownership to the intricate, layered sounds of the alt-rock trio Other Lives, who released its third album, Rituals, last month.
Like a farmer working hard all summer to harvest his crops, the band doesn’t rush into a song quickly. Most of the 14 lush songs on the album took weeks to produce, allowing the listener to become swept up like a tornado in Jesse Tabish's calming falsetto, a sound that conjures beautiful visuals reminiscent of The National.
“There’s a musical desire to retain this earthy quality but still have these really highbrow enlightened moments in the music that float on top,” Tabbish says. “It’s merging together the hi-fi recording with these soulful songs that are human. The idea comes out very fast, but then the thought comes after, putting meaning into that initial spark.”
In order to give themselves an edge, the group enlisted help from Joey Waronker, the co-producer who also helped out their biggest fan Thom Yorke with his Atoms For Peace project. The band toured with Radiohead in 2012.
“Touring with those guys, seeing what amazing musicians they are and how they do it, you can’t help but be inspired by that,” recalls Tabbish, “You get to be backstage and see them perform every night. It was really such an amazing experience and it really upped our game as far as playing live. We’d been playing these small clubs. To have to perform on these really large stages, you can learn how to play together a little bit more. It made us work a little bit harder.”
Riutals, which was recorded in Portland, deals with themes like the struggle over the basic and modern life. The city serves as the band's place of residence. “We wanted to have this change with our music, so we’d thought it’d be appropriate to physically move as well. It’s kind of cliche, but the rainy weather means you spend a lot of time indoors, which is really great for recording,” states Tabish.
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The album also has tender moments found throughout. The song “English Summer” talks about longing for home after touring abroad. He describes the time and place for the song, England in the summer, as “kinda dreary.” The newlywed Tabish wrote the touching song “No Trouble” for his wife.
“They’re the first love songs I’ve written since I was fourteen,” explains Tabish, “It’s a new element to my life and a very meaningful one at that. You want it to be meaningful and not just fluff.”
Other Lives is scheduled to play Tuesday, June 16, at Crescent Ballroom.