Customer Reviews for

Films for Radio

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A B-grade film

    Over The Rhine is a group (most usually a duo) that I've liked for a number of years. Their previous CD, 'Good Dog Bad Dog' is one of the few CDs that never leaves my CD changer. 'Films For Radio' comes off as a disappointment, though, compared to 'Good Dog Bad Dog'. This album is more cluttered, as if the sparse but intentional music of the previous album was too risky to try again, or maybe they didn't trust themselves. While simply repeating a successful formula isn't worthwhile, veering too far out of your strenghts isn't often a good idea either. 'Films' suffers from music overkill, one has the feeling that everyone who showed up at the Grey Ghost and said 'I want to be on this song too' was written in. To make matters worse Linford Detweiler, ususally very savvy about his music, so over-uses the Hammond Organ that you cringe when you hear it start up on yet another song. On their previous album they made masterful use of piano and cello and little else--on 'Films' about the only instrument not present is the harmonica (although I may have to check the song notes more closely on that one). There's way too much going on, way too much that needs to be stripped out. If I only had access to the tracks that make up 'Fairpoint Diary' and were allowed to cut away at will there would be a great song there, hidden underneath the noise and 'written in 5 minutes' musical blanket. Karin Bergquist's excellent vocals get lost in the invasive music which seems to clamber over everything and her vocals seem to be pushed further back in the mix so that we would be sure to hear that all of their friends made it onto the album. Much of the time it doesn't sound like the lyrics and music were thought of at the same time. The lyrics keep the same semi-confessional, emotionally driven feeling they had on 'Good Dog' but the music seems like it was thrown in afterwards and sounds like most rookie alternative bands with no regard to the mood of the vocals and the content of the lyrics. The combination is disjointed and disappointing. Many tracks don't sound like they would come from this usually sharp duo but rather the easily forgettable adventure of some new, unschooled band creating a common disaster, to borrow a title from OTR's buddies The Cowboy Junkies. You worry that you might be feeling the ugly creep of the marketing machine for Virgin working it's way in. There are more band photos in the album booklet than on the band's excellently (independently) crafted website. There's more sincerity and artistry in their website than in the album booklet. It's possible that Virgin might just rip this band from it's roots much like it did OMD in the late 80's, a tragedy from which OMD never recovered. While Virgin was tactful enough to bank on the band's strengths for the re-release of 'Good Dog' they've either pushed the band to edge towards commercialism or the band feels the pressure of being watched by the commercial giant. In it's own right this album is ok ('The World Can Wait' is unquestionably the standout track, and a very good one!), but knowing what this duo's done in the past makes it hard to grade this album in it's own right. One can only hope that this is just a stumbling (much like the dreadful U2 album 'Pop') and that the band will return to form.

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