Happy 7th Anniversary, OOTW

Seven year ago today, Lifehouse released Out of the Wasteland, its largest collection of songs and official b-sides in its history at nineteen tracks. It’s kinda wild to think that it’s been as long between then and now as it was between the release of Stanley Climbfall and Halfway Gone, and longer than the time between the release of No Name Face and Who We Are. Ugh… feeling old.

Thoughts or memories on this album? I found it to be closest cousins with Who We Are, but wider-ranging by a sizeable margin. Every album has had a few ‘legendary’ songs that changed the gravity in the room when heard. Simon and Everything, Take Me Away or perhaps Wash, Blind, Broken and Signs of Life, Nerve Damage, Aftermath (and Goodbye Kanan too); Out if the Wasteland took a ton of musical risks that really paid off, with three songs continuing this trend: Flight, Hourglass, and an underdog of a song, Yesterday’s Son. We finally heard Wish and it was rendered gorgeously, Angeline made an appearance on the Target CD, and we got our first taste of Paper Cuts through some more fully-realized versions of Central Park and Clarity. Bryce got his first solo writing credit with the inclusion of Stardust, and other notable tracks like Runaways, Alien, Hurt This Way, and Après La Vie showed the breadth of songwriting the previous six albums had made clear. While I’m not the biggest fan of Hurricane or One for the Pain, hearing that crunchy guitar on the TV gigs they had around its release felt really good and took me back to some of their alt-rock days.

The European tour that followed might go down as one of their greatest tours ever, musically — the solo set in the middle brought out Joshua, The Edge, Eighties, and several other little- or never-performed tracks, and they performed Flight live during some of the encores.

Would love to hear any stories from this time period for ‘the listeners at home’. Favourite tracks, general opinions?

I can’t believe it’s been 7 years already, wow! I just pulled out that Collectors Edition tin they were selling back then. Kind of gimmicky but I liked the alternative album artwork/slip case they included with the CD (guitar picks came in handy, too!)

Every release day, I run to the store to pick up a physical copy (since WWA; I pre-ordered SCF/LH online) and OOTW was no exception. I picked up a copy of the Target Exclusive version with all the bonus tracks. I was most excited for “Exhale” since I knew that track had been floating around since the early 2000s (song title posted on the OG LHF B-Side lyrics page back around 2004/2005).

My favorite tracks on this record (in no particular order) were Runaways, Firing Squad, Alien, Hurt This Way and Exhale. I was also pretty excited for “Wish” and while they did do a great job, the rawness of the original version of “Wish” made it difficult to get into the new version with the strings.

I always enjoyed Bryce’s work with Komox Kids but his solo LH tracks never clicked for me. Stardust always felt out of place with the rest of the record and while it’s a decent song on it’s own, I usually skip it.

I was really looking forward to seeing them live for this tour but it became the second tour (back-to-back if I remember correctly) to fall through for them. I did see them a few years later for their Greatest Hits tour which was amazing… felt like a kid all over again.

@shawn Yeah, that release was a really special one. They went all-out; Flight came out in November and blew everyone’s minds, then Hurricane and the track list in January, the album art contest, releasing Wish as the third promo single, and then releasing four versions of the album (standard, iTunes deluxe, Target deluxe, and Collector’s + tin) with different songs in each. I too bought all three special versions immediately, and used the picks until they disintegrated.

The Target edition is my favourite, since that version of Clarity is probably my most-listened-to song from the whole album. Yesterday’s Son, Hourglass, Flight, and Firing Squad were probably my other favourites in that order, along with Wish (though it’s almost a different song than the demo, much cheerier vibe which is good in its own right but not as moving as the demo for sure) and Après La Vie (a song I have a hunch J wrote after the finale of How I Met Your Mother - he posted about the show at the time and Cristin Milioti’s performance of La Vie En Rose in the last episode was very similar).

Angeline and Exhale are both solid, and Exhale feels like it was written in the Blyss days; he follows the nearly unrhymed lyrical structure of early tracks like Joshua, May, and Simon. I preferred the acoustic version of Angeline he debuted in 2011 though; the ukulele he added to the Paper Cuts/Wasteland version was a touch bright for my liking. I found Alien to be a bit bright too, preferring the bouncier Guitar Centre Sessions version.

A real sleeper song for me was Hurt This Way, which I think he wrote with a country artist and really introduced something brand new for the band and his writing; it was the first real storytelling song I can remember him writing, maybe besides Angeline. Far more specific details of things than in his earlier, broader writing style (keys buried in the grass / Springsteen references / old man tying one up tight etc, and down the road from Annehein, it’s my birthday, middle of our hometown) and I think these songs served as early inklings of a shift towards his ØZWALD lyrical style of singing about the details of things, not just these large thoughts about life that defined Lifehouse until 2010.

The iTunes version had Hindsight and You Are Not Alone, the latter of which he played in a lot of medleys. Hindsight sounded like a Smoke & Mirrors outtake to me, as it had a bit of the bitterness found in those co-written songs from that era (Had Enough, Wrecking Ball, HTGT, Nerve Damage). H2O isn’t a track I listen to very often, but I think fits content-wise with Gresham and a lot of the more recent work he’s done. Still a great stand-alone track in a similar vein as Storm, All That I’m Asking For, and Aftermath.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, my least favourite track is Hurricane, and One for the Pain is probably second. I just never quite bought either of them as overly genuine lyrically, though I still love the instrumentation and melody of OFTP.