I discovered Over The Rhine on holiday in 2004. The CD that came with Paste Magazine contained 'Show Me' which was a good start but the magazine article, which I can't find online, was what hooked me. A description of the recording process and all round hymn of praise to their album Ohio. So my introduction to the band was a double cd lasting ninety minutes which Paste called "a true confessional masterpiece". Thirteen years later it is still towards the top of my most played on the iPod, joined there by albums older and newer, but all of them with the spark of musical greatness.
Where to start? Over the Rhine have been at least two different bands, an early indie pop four piece featuring guitarist Ric Hordinski, whose album 'When I Consider How My Light is Spent' is also worth your attention. The collection from these years 'Discount Fireworks' is a good entry point, personally I also like the album 'Besides' that started life as a fan club disc, but has some real gems on it. The period from 'Good Dog Bad Dog' saw the band contract to husband and wife team Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. Unashamed pop record 'Films for Radio' followed and then they found their calling with Ohio. A string of albums have followed in the subsequent years. The best place to learn about them is on the music page of the band site. There is also a good playlist that gives a flavour of what to expect from an Over The Rhine album.
If I have a favourite song (of any artist), then it is probably Latter Days. Reading the lyrics only hints at the epic quality of the song itself. A grandeur that reflects the best church music. "There’s so much more to life than words", not when they are sung by Karin there isn't. Listen to the song here.
Karin & Linford are gearing up for some new records and as with the last few are going down the fan funding route. This time they are offering three records. Read about them here and support the band in their enterprises. I have gone for the Hear It option, partly because of the ruinous cost of postage from the USA, and partly to hold onto money to spend on what I hope will be a well stocked merchandise stall at their show at Cecil Sharp House in London on April 2nd. Why isn't this sold out? How can they mange a whole tour in Holland and only one show in mainland Britain? Buy tickets here.
I would love to see a whole U.K. tour, and can think of many places, like St Georges Bristol, that would be ideal for them to play. But it needs support and a certain level of ticket sales to make it possible which in these days is a struggle for British artists let alone those taking a risk on crossing the Atlantic. I am just happy that after all the years following them I get to a show at last.
So what do I suggest starting with?
'Good Dog Bad Dog' remains one of my most played albums. the download only live version from 2010 is also worth a listen.
Of 'The Live from Nowhere' sets I would go for Volumes 1 and 4 first, but you will want them all in time.
'Meet Me At The Edge Of The World' is going to take some topping I look forward to hearing them try.
Of the earlier albums I like 'Besides' and 'Eve'
Linford has a series of solo piano instrumental albums. I like 'Grey Ghost Stories' best. The piece 'Someday We'll Move To A Small Farm (And Sit And Watch The Snow Fall)' is typical of the autobiographical quality of the band's lyrics tipping over into his solo music. I'm pleased to say they did move to that farm.
I'm sure you will find your own favourites once the music starts to haunt you. The fact that the world still has a place for artists like Over The Rhine even if it is at or near subsistence level, means that despite the best efforts of our leaders this world is a place worth living in.