This band is the reason I was more than happy to contribute my words to this blog, and this series. I’ve been listening week in and week out, waiting to hear something that connected on that level. That level where you can’t believe you’ve never listened to the band before. Perhaps because it’s a monday afternoon, or perhaps because my ears are shot from weeks of recording. Whatever the case is, Over the Rhine were precisely the band I needed to hear, and at the perfect time.
Isn’t that the reason we keep listening to new music? To find the next artist that hits you in the right way, at the right time? Like chasing something you remember from when you were 8, or 17, or 23.
I’ve never had the time or the patience to sift through the blogs and aggregators listening to everything that has someone riled up one day. I can’t commit that kind of my time to that kind of semi-active listening, and I don’t think anyone else should either. The internet makes things as such, and that is a shame; there aren’t anymore filters. Sure, the websites and the blogs serve to act as one, but because of the need to constantly update and refresh, the filtration is lost in favor of new content. It becomes impossible to stay both relevant/trusted, and breaking at the same time. Too much crap makes it into the drawer.
However, i’ve chosen to allow music to find me. There is no criteria, and no pretentious stigma; if someone I know offers me something they believe I will like, I listen. If my job or my commitments require me to hear something I never would have taken the time to listen to myself, I listen. Almost all of the time, this approach works, and flawlessly. I’m able to keep my mind free from hip just enough to have a chance to hear a band like Over the Rhine, and have the space needed to commit to their work.
I am a huge fan of harmony, melody, and familiarity. Over the Rhine do all 3 flawlessly. I feel like I know where the melody is going to go, on both the top, and the bottom. And that is a constant with the material presented here; there is a top, and there is a bottom. Two melodies to follow, and it’s haunting the entire time. A husband and wife combination make up the band, and it’s that kind of intrinsic closeness that must be present to make music where two voices can so easily blend into one. I’ve never been around any tandem with that kind of relationship, but, I can imagine it’s as electric in person as it is here. You can feel it, which lends itself to the music as a whole in a way that words don’t do justice.
From material that sits comfortably in that fringe-Nashville scene, the alternative country made famous by Emmylou Harris or T-Bone Burnett and his crew, all the way to Heartland rock ala Sheryl Crow from the Globe Sessions; they have the sound of my new favorite band. Vocalist Karin Bergquist has an uncanny ability to sing both soulful, almost r&b phrases coupled with a southern, ghostly near-country croon within the same song. Furthering the familiarity point I touched on earlier; you think you know the melody, or at least where it’s going, until you don’t.
I wasn’t in the room when this interview was recorded, and that is a shame; I heard moments, and I can’t wait for a chance to go get some of my own.