Gambling, Hustler Magazine and Now This

Films For Radio (Back Porch)

Over The Rhine

By David Lilly

I beckon thee to enter the dimly lit chamber that is the music of Over The Rhine. It isn't actually chamber music, but it is melancholy and good, which creates a case of cause and effect for me. I ponder why Over The Rhine's music, and in fact the quality of melancholic music generally speaking, is so good; or at least why it can be so enjoyable rather than depressing. If you have a theory on that, email me.

Other than that, the phrase "Now This," in the title of this review, could be misleading if you're unfamiliar with the band's history. Having released their first recording in 1991 (and several since), Over The Rhine is not exactly new to the music scene. They are based in Cincinnati, the same city that us Pete Rose and Larry Flynt. Hence, pardon if you will my dark but facetious references. And make no mistake about it; this band is worthy of your money and attention.

A good deal of this music might invoke thoughts of the sounds of Cowboy Junkies, to whom they are somewhat akin. Now to switch gears. Singer Karin Bergquist won't be mistaken for Annie Haslam (not by Haslam fans, anyway, and that's not a criticism of Bergquist, because she is indeed good), but the first song, "The World Can Wait" has a Renaissance-like ambience, especially since it feels a bit like "Mother Russia."

"If Nothing Else" is similarly overcast but there are rays of hope and optimism peeking through the Venetian blinds, making it a painful and pretty song. Distant thunderous percussive sounds strike closer and closer until the music of "Give Me Strength" erupts into a gloomy but very danceable number. This would be a great song for meditating during aerobic workouts. "I Radio Heaven" recalls Al Stewart's "The News From Spain" in mood - though not subject matter - as it embodies sadness, pain and loneliness. And it is all so pretty at the same time.

The `Rhine is scheduled for a gig at the Phoenix Hill on February 22. Find information aplenty at their online home,