I’m not writing about The Districts because they played two fantastic shows at the Ottawa Bluesfest or that we had a fun interview (o.k., maybe those played minor roles), but rather this is an opportunity to revisit some great music produced by a young, emerging band over the past year.
Established in 2009 when they were in their mid-teens, Rob Grote (vocals, guitar), Braden Lawrence (drums), Connor Jacobus (bass), and Mark Larsen (guitar) have already produced two EPs and an LP, the fantastic Telephone, which was self-released late in 2013. Their work and incredible live shows caught the attention of Fat Possum Records (Iggy & The Stooges, Dinosaur, Jr.), who signed the quartet from Lititz, Pennsylvania (now residing in Philadelphia) in November of last year. With Fat Possum, they released their second EP, The Districts, which included three remastered tracks from their debut LP and two new singles.
While The Districts may just be in the infant years of adulthood (they’re not even of legal age to consume alcohol in the States), their songwriting is extremely mature and their musicianship is stellar. Their overall craftmanship would indicate that this is a band in their late-20s or early-30s, but this a young foursome that should be entering their sophomore and junior years of college. In listening to their albums and reflecting on their live shows, I am reminded of a very young My Morning Jacket. Their songs are reflective as well as forward looking. They have a knack for subtleties and building a song into an anthemic burner. They don’t rely on redundant choruses and cheesy lyrics; instead they have made the effort to tell vivid stories.
And live, they play with a ferocity and energy of some of the best live bands around, including MMJ, The Drive-by Truckers, and White Denim. They play with such intensity that at times you fear Grote may trip over himself, Connor may run into his amp, or the three standing members will crash into Lawrence’s drum kit. No fancy lights, no pretty images, just the sheer energy of this band makes their shows intoxicating.
Musically, they are a mix of southern rock, blues-rock, and indie rock. If you are just discovering The Districts, listen to the following tracks: “Long Distance”, “Lyla”, “Telephone”, “Funeral Beds”, “Rocking Chair”, and “Silver Couplets”. For that matter, purchase all of their albums, which you can get on their Bandcamp page, Fat Possum Records (their self-titled EP), iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic.
The interview with The Districts should be out in the next few weeks, so look out for it.
Photo by Caitlin McCann
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