When I walked into the Red Palace on Friday night, I already felt like I was in a David Lynch story. Strange sideshow oddities peered down on me at obtuse angles as I climbed the steps and made it through the large curtains, I fully expected to see a dwarf dancing in a strobe light with special agent Cooper sitting and watching. But there was no dwarf, or Cooper, to be found, so I assumed this feeling would settle out as the night went on. Largely unfamiliar with The Other Lives catalog of music, I came to their show as an open book, waiting to be filled in with whatever story this 5 piece from Oklahoma was about to tell me. With pen in hand and my notepad at the ready I listened as the band made their way through a majority of their new album, Tamer Animals, ending with a haunting performance of Leonard Cohen's "The Partisan" by lead singer Jesse Tabish. As the final notes faded away, I suddenly snapped out of the trance I had just been in for the last hour, realizing I was still standing there with pen in hand, a chill in my spine, and a slight tear in my eye.
Similar to many of Lynch’s films, the Other Lives create haunting, mysterious music, which remains at its core, a deep, beautiful, piece of artist work. Using cellos, pianos, guitars, trumpets, violins, bass, drums, antler shakers (yes, antler shakers) and some of the most brooding vocals I’ve heard out of any of the big vocal groups today, they build together, a strategically designed musical space. And even during the times when they hinted at groups such as Midlake, Radiohead, and a darker version of Fleet Foxes, I realized that Other Lives are not about the notes, or individual details in their songs. They are about an experience or mood that can be created by the sum of the parts. And anyone who is willing to have the patience to pay attention to the whole story will surely walk away with a different perspective of what this music is all about. Much like a good album, it involves the commitment of experiencing and focusing from start to finish, as a whole piece, to truly appreciate what it has to offer. And in the case of The Other Lives, they are creating an experience that will confuse, intrigue, and move you all at the same time.