Vol. 1, I appreciate the optimism that there will be Vol. 2. The album is from the musical pairing of Henry Austin Lannan and Emily Palen. Through Specimen Box, Lannan’s collaborative music project with Larry Boothroyd (Jello Biafra and GSM, Victim’s Family, Triclops!), Henry Austin Lannan and Emily Palen met by chance. Upon hearing one of Austin’s demos, Larry introduced him to Emily, who created a vocal composition that led to this fruitful collaboration based on songs written amid the 2020 lockdown.
After recording numerous demos at Austin’s home studio, they eventually recorded this long-player at El Studio in San Francisco with Phil Becker (drummer of Triclops!, Terry Gross, Pins of Light and Lower Forty-Eight) serving as producer and engineer.
The album opens with a gentle synth washing over birds sweetly singing that lasts for 22 seconds, and then a drum marches over the birds and eventually displaces them. That transitions into track two, Planets on the Rise, a melodic evolution away from the birds. A heavily distorted guitar moves the piece into a more metal than a pop song at about the middle of the song. We are primed for the Journey to the Edge by the time Planets on the Rise ends, which settles the album into the heavier metal zone that feels right for Othered.
Lyrically the band leans towards living in fear of Big Brother and conspiracy by the government, big pharma and conventional journalism. Covid has been a massive catalyst for music and the arts. Othered have not been immune to the opportunity to get on the Covid bandwagon. When they get on they charge head-on at full throttle.
“‘Othered Vol. 1‘ was born out of sheer necessity to create amidst a complete disruption to normality as a result of the 2020 pandemic and lockdowns. Lyrically, the album is a call for independent thought, soul maintenance and critical discernment in a time when a war on human consciousness is being waged.”
“This album was a synchronistic opportunity for me to dive into myself as a vocalist and also to bring a voice to the traumatic experience everyone was plunged into. As we traversed the mind-bending manipulation of the last two years, the lyrics and melodies of Othered served as a channel to express views that were challenging to many to hear. Many of us who have always questioned what our government tells us have been afraid to speak up for fear of life-altering consequences. I do not pretend to know the core facts of the story we are playing out now; however, there is longstanding and irrefutable evidence that these false authority figures have never cared about us. I maintain that it is critical that we be able to question and think for ourselves,” says Emily Palen.
“When we are being attacked so viciously for doing so, it is a horrible red flag. Austin Lannan gave me his unlimited blessing to explore my own ideas uncensored, and I am very grateful for that landscape. My hope is that this music is both a clarion call to others who have felt alone during this time, a fortifying song for those who are on the front lines of consciousness evolution and a reminder to those who have fallen victim to mass engineered manipulation tactics, to come home to who they truly are. Our true nature is to care for each other and celebrate and support our vast differences. Our strength is in our diversity, not in aligning to one single thought sent down upon us from above”.
“2020 was a fucked up year. A profound sense of isolation permeated daily life along with rampant fear and a consistent general feeling of unease. The sounds, words and tone of this record are both inspired by those negative emotions and an attempt to counter the despair and hopelessness many of us felt throughout the year,” says Henry Austin Landan.
While the album’s music, primarily heavy rock and lyrical content, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this is a good album when all is considered. “Our true nature is to care for each other and celebrate and support our vast differences. Our strength is in our diversity..” says Emily Palen; I think that is an excellent way to listen to this album. When I listened to the album with that agenda, celebrating and supporting our diversity, I gained a new and deeper appreciation for what Othered has offered us through the medium of music on Vol. 1
As a closing remark, I will add that this is one of those albums that gets better with age and repeated plays. I can’t count how many times I’ve listened to Vol. 1, but I can tell you that I enjoy it more with each listen, which is what I am listening to as I write this. Othered Vol. 1 is destined to be a stranded on a deserted island album. Good stuff.
I look forward to Othered Vol. 2.
‘Othered Vol. 1‘ is now available digitally and on gold-coloured vinyl in a limited edition of 150 copies, pressed with a heavy-weight gloss stock jacket and black card stock insert printed in silver and gold ink. The album can be ordered directly from the artist via Bandcamp.
Album pre-order https://otheredoak.bandcamp.com/album/vol-1
Album release show https://bit.ly/3tsouah