Quick Review (LP): Patience by Over the Rhine

Over the Rhine
Patience
IRS;
1992

My Rating: C (51/100)

Best Tracks: "Jacksie", "How Does It Feel", "How Does It Feel (Reprise)", "Sister", "Little Genius"

…wherein they don’t use the word “ubiquitous” in any song titles.

TRACK NOTES

"Jacksie"

  • Love the atmosphere here.
  • Also, it doesn’t really sound like an opener, but it works.
  • Sort of eerie. Muy bueno.

”I’ve Been Slipping"

  • They definitely get the atmosphere thing this time around. This one’s ethereal.
  • I really like Karin’s angelic vocals, dated though they may be.

"How Does It Feel"

  • Catchy.
  • It’s fun to listen to Karin sing this song. She sounds really young, but she’s still a pretty great singer.
  • Hordinski puts himself up there with the likes of Buck and Marr on this one. Great guitar playing.

"How Does It Feel (Reprise)"

  • Exotic.
  • Seriously, as dated as this may sound, I like it.
  • Yessir, I do.

"Sister"

  • It’s right around this track that I start to realize how much better they got from album 1 to album 2.
  • Excellent guitar work by Hordinski. Nice n’ noodly.
  • Great vocal performance by Karin.

"Il Est Dans Mon Poche"

  • "It is in my pocket." (?)
  • Pretty and catchy, but leaves something to be desired.

"Fladers Genius"

  • Pretty little acoustic number.

"Little Genius"

  • They should really cut Linford loose on the piano more often.
  • This is good – sort of reminds me of a Bruce Hornsby instrumental.
  • Nice cello work too. Very pretty stuff here.

"Lullabye"

  • Good stuff. Only drums, Karin’s voice, and the sound of rain.
  • At first, I wasn’t crazy about this, but on second thought, I really like it.

"Circle of Quiet"

  • Nice job on the mandolin.
  • Very CCM-ish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • Also reminds me of Lone Justice a bit. That’s a good thing, even though it also means it sounds very 80’s.

"I Painted My Name"

  • Lite alterna-pop on this one.
  • Nice enough, but forgettable.

"Rhapsodie"

  • This looks forward to their late 90’s/early 00’s sound.
  • Very earnest.
  • Like, more earnest than a late 80’s Mello Yello commercial. Nowwhutumean?

"Grey Monologue"

  • Yeah Daddy-o.

ALBUM NOTES

  • They still sound like Edie Brickell, but they are better at that this time around, and they wear the sound with a little more grace and feel.
  • Very strong first five to open things up. That gives way to a whole bunch of pretty passages that don’t really go anywhere. They are actually quite good, and I’m not sure if I like the effect of them or not.
  • Come to think of it, the evidence is that they ran out of ideas here and had to substitute some unfinished thoughts in order to fill out an album proper.
  • While it may not be a masterpiece, it’s a pretty significant step forward for Over The Rhine, and at least half of it holds up remarkably well.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4/5)
Concept (3.5/5)
Consequence (3.5/5)
Consistency (3.5/5)
Songs (3.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Till We Have Faces by Over the Rhine

Over the Rhine
Till We Have Faces
Scampering Songs; 1991

My Rating: C (51/100)

Best Tracks: "Eyes Wide Open", "Like a Radio", "And Can It Be",
"Sea and Sky"

A long time ago in a coffee shop far, far away…

NOTES

  • Let’s just be honest – "Eyes Wide Open", while catchy, sounds extremely dated to the "college rock" scene of the late 80’s/early 90’s.
  • "Someday" showcases the thing that makes this album stand out – the guitar work of Ric Hordinski. Otherwise, Linford’s not playing piano, and Karin sounds guarded and insecure.
  • "Like a Radio" hints at the kind of intimacy the band would be capable of well down the road. Pretty good.
  • "Iron Curtain" = kind of creepy.
  • "Cast Me Away" is a nice little vocal passage.
  • "And Can It Be" is one of the album’s highlights. A little mandolin thrown in for effect. Muy bueno.
  • Man, if "Gentle Wounds" don’t sound like "What I Am" then philosophy is not, in fact, a walk on the slippery rocks.
  • At times, Ms. Bergquist kinda sounds like Maria McKee. But she also sounds like Enya too. Weird.
  • "If I’m Drowning" just sort of slips by.
  • "Sea and Sky" is peppy. Another album highlight. That guitar lead reminds me of Belly. Coulda seen this being a radio hit back in 92 or 93.
  • There was this other, coffee house funk side to OTR back in the 90’s. The live cut "Fly Dance" is an excellent example of that. It also tells me that OTR have always been a live band.
  • "Paul and Virginia" is pretty, but nothing particularly special.
  • Oh goodness – the track is called "Ubiquitous Hands" – I had to look that word up. That’s a mighty big word. Very literati. Sort of a sleepy tune, but not bad for what it is.
  • "Genius of Water" closes things out with very little spark. Pretty forgettable.
  • Thankfully, I have 20 years perspective on this record.
  • What a radically different band this is from the Over the Rhine of today. Linford’s piano is nowhere to be found, Karin sounds measured and out of breath at times, and the star of the show is the guitar work of Ric Hordinski. I’m sure real OTR fans love this stuff, but I didn’t stumble upon the band until Ohio was released, so I’m not going to pretend to dig this. I’ll probably never listen to it again, but there a handful of catchy tunes here. Probably for completists only, and perhaps also for those who were there when it all went down. Me? I was 11 at the time, and listening to Guns n’ Roses.
  • For a more appreciative take, see the AMG review. “Later releases are stronger and more confident, but what they gain in confidence and surefootedness they lose in freshness and unpredictability.”

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (4/5)
Concept (3.5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (3/5)
Songs (3.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): The Long Surrender by Over The Rhine

over the rhine the long surrender Over The Rhine
The Long Surrender
Great Speckled Dog; 2011

My Rating: B+

Best Tracks: “The Laugh of Recognition”, “Infamous Love Song”, “Oh Yeah By The Way”, “Days Like This”, “Rave On”

Let me be honest: it’s been a struggle to get my bearings with this record. The band scored a couple of no-doubt triumphs mid-decade with Ohio and Drunkard’s Prayer, but their last one, The Trumpet Child, never quite grabbed me in the same way. The Long Surrender has, so far, left me with the same feeling. By my own reckoning, the best I could do was to see this as a hybrid of DP‘s intimate chamber folk and The Trumpet Child‘s hope-against-hope spirituals. I didn’t think that was enough, so I decided to read the liner notes. The album’s producer, Joe Henry, mentioned two of his own takeaways that stuck with me. The first came from the tattoo on Karin Bergquist‘s arm: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” The second came from the memory of Linford Detwiler: “Leave the edges wild.” Sage words, I’d say. There’s some deep magic about this duo that urges you to stay the course. There aren’t any “wow!” moments here in the way of “Spark” or “Jesus In New Orleans”, but I think I know what Karin would have to say about comparing past efforts with those of today. The “fuzzy wuzzy” moment may seem a bit cringeworthy on “Only God Can Save Us Now”, but I’ll keep Linford’s admonishment in mind. Gratitude should always come first, even for a music snob, and I’m thankful that a band like Over The Rhine even exists, and that they allowed us in on great tunes like “The Laugh of Recognition” and “Oh Yeah By The Way.” Still, I’d have to say the record’s defining moment is the Kim Taylor-penned “Days Like This.” The no frills chorus – “All I want to do is live my life honestly” – drives right to the heart of what it seems to me Over The Rhine is all about. When all is said and done, it might just be that what Bergquist and Detwiler have given us is their most honest record yet, one that revels in the teensy, quiet victories that keep us all afloat.

Stereo Subversion review
My review of Good Dog Bad Dog

Quick Review (LP): Good Dog, Bad Dog by Over the Rhine

Good Dog Bad Dog - Over the RhineOver the Rhine
Good Dog, Bad Dog
Narada; 2000

My Rating: A

Best Tracks: “Latter Days”, “All I Need Is Everything”, “Faithfully Dangerous”, “Poughkeepsie”

I’ve never quite understood the details of this record, but it would seem it was the last released by the “original” incarnation of Over the Rhine, that which included Ric Hordinski. The album title seems quite appropriate, the songs being wrapped in a swirl of existential angst toward God (whose existence the band never really seems to doubt). It’s quite an excellent album to that end as well, best enjoyed from the declining months of autumn into the dreariness of the late winter. “Latter Days” is absolutely gorgeous, and “All I Need Is Everything” features an outstanding vocal performance from front-gal Karin Bergquist. Let’s just put it this way though: you seem to hear her heart bursting forth with every subsequent note. To say that the songs on this album are heartfelt would be to call the Crucifixion a random act of kindness. That is to say, this record is an emotional and spiritual atom bomb. What a beautiful piece of heartache indeed.

Allmusic Guide review
Liner notes and such