In 2006, I discovered a band based out of Stillwater, Oklahoma called Kunek. Their music was a delicate balance of hopeful and depressing, uplifting and melancholy. I listened the Hell out of their album “Flight of the Flynns”, and found that the uniqueness of the sound the band created was unlike anything I’d heard before. Years later, I hadn’t heard anything from the band, so I did a quick Google search and found out they changed their band’s name to Other Lives. They added some other elements to the core of Kunek, and that warranted a change in name. But, the question is, did the music suffer?
The short answer is no. Other Lives Self-titled debut album is a far more polished effort from the Stillwater based band. It seems tighter, more technical, more precise. Where as Kunek they created beautiful music more independently as musicians, as Other Lives they seem to be more focused as a whole. They are working as a more cohesive unit, and none of their delicately balanced music suffers for it. Other Lives creates somber, emotional music, music that cuts straight into the soul.
The album is heavy-hearted, properly reflective, and equally mysterious. Songs like ‘E Minor’ and ‘Black Tables’ delve headfirst into your veins and slowly flow through with a numbing quality that allows you to close your eyes and imagine a World much like the one we live in; strife and conflict, but also hope and possibility. These songs slowly build like a great orchestral piece often does into a epic finales that take you from the cold into the sun.
The band prominently uses a cello, and this addition gives the music it’s heart. I don’t know if it’s official, but the cello might just be the most depressing-sounding instrument ever. Jenny Hsu magnificently produces the soul of the album with her ability to strip any pomp and circumstance away from the epicness of the music around her and allow you to focus strictly on her instrument during the moments she is playing.
The album plays like Parachutes era Coldplay, with a more pained sounding voice of frontman Jesse Tabish replacing the high-pitched enthusiasm of Chris Martin. The songs seem simple on their surface, but as they begin to develop, you can feel them maturing at a rapid rate, and by the time the song has ended, you have heard a song go through an entire lifespan.
From childhood until it progresses equally and scientifically to its end, these songs are sweeping, full of pain and hope, and the album progresses the same way. It begins with slow, melodic songs and then enters its more vigorous years of puberty and early adulthood, and then finally with ‘Epic’ ends much like it began with ‘E Minor’, except now you have a life behind you rather than one in front of you. It’s actually quite a profound record in this regard.
This album is highly recommended for anyone who loves music with depth and soul. Other Lives produces a tiny gem of a record that couples classical music with indie rock, and the marriage is blissful at worst. At its best, it’s absolutely entrancing. Other Lives proves to be a more polished and overall larger band than their previous form as Kunek, but they take a good deal of that same sound while melding it together with a bit more focus, and what we’re left with is a fantastic debut record from this band.
Final Score: 8/10 (Great)