Dust Bowl III by Other Lives (8.2)
Oklahoma April Music Digest: Week 3. It’s not often we have one track/artist that demonstrate (a) how terrible, on average, I am at evaluating artists from a career potential standpoint and (b) how little I know about music.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Other Lives.
Backstory, Other Lives was formed in 2004 in the fine burg that gave us both Cross Canadian Ragweed and The All-American Rejects (N.B. Here is where this Sooner no longer talks shit on where Wife went to school) and originally named “Kunek.”
(a) Kunek released an album in 2006 named Flight of the Flynns and somehow it ended up in WD’s hands. I honestly can’t remember how, but I did go through a phase where I sought out obscure music on the Internet (N.B…..). I listened to it quite a bit, but it never really left my computer/iTunes, so, while the CD is somewhere in my office, it never ascended to the ranks of “actual music” in that it was something that I owned rather than just something my computer played. Nevertheless, I didn’t hear anything else from them, and given how ethereal the music on Flight of Flynns was (N.B. and my newly diagnosed propensity to over-value local artists), I assumed Kunek eventually realized: (a) they would never make it big; (b) that a band was really just an excuse to get high in college; and (3) once it was time for graduate school, they needed to get their shit together and stop getting buttered out of Keystone Light cans and playing guitars with violin bows.
So naturally, Kunek dissolved, then reconstituted as Other Lives, and they spent this spring opening for Radiohead. Well, fuck me. I struck out on that one. I also thought Local H would be huge (N.B. and still think they should) and Kid A was a depressing video game soundtrack (N.B. I’m coming around). So my track record isn’t great and I really missed the boat on Kunek/Other Lives, because being respected/talented enough to open for Radiohead (N.B. or Jack White, Alabama Shakes, what up?) should speak volumes as to how talented you are and can be.
(b) I don’t know what three of the instruments deployed in this video even are. I mean, I see a drum and a guitar, but that squeezy piano thing…what the fuck is that? And is that a cutting board with strings on it the cute Asian has? On her knee is also an antelope horn with tambourine jingles on it. Is that an instrument now?
But the more I listen and ostensibly write about music, the more I realize the minuscule amount I actually understand about it. Music is purely a listening experience for me (N.B. if you don’t count air-drum and air-guitar). I don’t know if that makes me an honest or disingenuous eva-
luator of it. Either way, I’m not giving up because there’s weaponry in that video that befuddles me. But it befuddles me more, because, other than the antelope tambourine (N.B. potential band name), I couldn’t use any of that for anything other than to pose within pensive-looking hipster pictures. Other Lives create art with it and I can’t tell you how much I respect that.
And regarding pensive-looking hipsters, not even counting the instruments, there are Arcade Fire levels of hipster gobbledy-gook in the above video. But this song is so haunting and well-crafted that I can forgive the hair and the beards, but the shoes are a bit much…..you guys are from Stillwater. And Dust Bowl III? Are you kidding me? Somehow this may make Other Lives both the most and least Oklahoman of all bands in the April Music Digest. This song especially, the sound track to a post-apocalyptic retelling of the Grapes of Wraith, with the title to boot? I’m in. Big time.
The entire album, Tamer Animals, is a marvel, full of cinematic DV, a definite listen the whole way through. They’re very deft at crafting sonic landscapes with an undercurrent of “Beach Boy-ness” and not the “Beach Boy-ness” you’re thinking of, but the Pet Sounds / Brian Wilson’s losing it / every noise has purpose Beach Boys, who are never considered by those whose Beach Boy experience ends with Surfin’ USA, but should have a whole wing in the not yet in existence, Music Hall of Fame (N.B. Like the Beethoven and whoever wrote Amazing Grace, Music Hall of Fame). Above comments in context, they are super, talented musicians and this album, as a vehicle for that talent, surpasses anything I heard from them in 2006 and lot of other stuff I’ve heard from anyone since. Open for Radiohead? Not for much longer.
Post Script: Levon Helm passed away today. The above was already (mostly) completed or we would have reminisced on The Band. Rest in Peace.