|Over the Rhine:
Discount Fireworks Label: Back Porch
To say that Over the Rhine has flown under the radar for the past fifteen years would be an understatement. But you can’t say the Cincinnati-based band has not been making good music over that long haul. To prove it, Back Porch Records, the label Over the Rhine has called home since 2003, has delivered a retrospective called Discount Fireworks, featuring a nice cross-section of the band’s best material.
Fronted by singer and songwriter Karin Bergquist (who shares songwriting duties with husband Linford Detweiler), Over the Rhine sounds like a folkier Sarah McLachlan, a cooler Dido, or perhaps a lite version of 10,000 Maniacs. Fans of the band will appreciate the rear-view mirror glance, and those of you who haven’t heard of the band or only know them on the surface will find something to like -- that is, if you remotely dig any of the artists mentioned above.
The album kicks off with a brand new track, “Last Night on Earth Again,” a jangly and extremely catchy song with more hooks than a typical offering from the band. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of tracks from the band’s Back Porch releases, including the melancholy “Suitcase” and somewhat overly dramatic “The World Can Wait.” Some of Over the Rhine’s best songs, “Born,” and “Ohio,” are also representative of the Back Porch years, as well as the very Dido-esque “Give Me Strength.” But the early years of the band from their IRS Records days are also given some play, including “Sleep Baby Jane,” “How Does it Feel?” and “Like a Radio,” a stunning track from the band’s debut, Till We Have Faces.
If you want to fault Over the Rhine for anything, maybe it’s that their melodies occasionally sound derivative. But for the most part, Bergquist’s velvety voice and the band’s subtle but effective arrangements make for very inspired listening -- whether you have heard of them or not.