Named for one of Cincinnati's poorest and most historic Germanic neighborhoods, Over the Rhine is one of the more distinctive bands to rise from the Queen City scene. Comparisons to the Innocence Mission, Cowboy Junkies, and 10,000 Maniacs are understandable but not always accurate, and the fact that the band was heard by Bob Dylan and invited to open for him on a handful of Midwest dates before it was signed in the early '90s merely adds to its status. That exposure ultimately led to the quartet's signing to I.R.S. Records, which made the unprecedented move of releasing the band's indie disc, Patience
, with its original artwork (the package featured photographs by Cincinnati lensman Michael Wilson, who went on to shoot album artwork for Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, and hundreds of others). In 1996 the stark acoustic album Good Dog Bad Dog
was followed almost immediately by the dour Christmas album The Darkest Night of the Year
, both of which were overshadowed by the marriage of songwriters Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. The following year saw the release of Besides
, a rarities collection, and 1999 finally brought the first new Over the Rhine disc in four years, Amateur Shortwave Radio
. The big news in the band's camp is its recent signing to Virgin Records imprint Backporch and the imminent arrival of a new album in February called Films for Radio
, which will feature the track "Give Me Strength," recently heard on NBC's Third Watch
. After seven solid albums and a decade of almost catching that big break, it's heartening to hear up-and-coming bands such as Sixpence None the Richer rightly cite Over the Rhine as a primary influence.