Release Date: Feb 10, 2015
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
There’s always been something compelling about The Districts, even though the band doesn’t have a particularly interesting backstory. The four-piece, which consisted of vocalist/guitarist Rob Grote, bassist Connor Jacobus, drummer Braden Lawrence, and then-guitarist Mark Larson, started out, like most young acts, as a high school band that played classic rock covers. It’s a completely by-the-numbers origin story, which is totally fine, because these indie rockers aren’t concerned with anything other than just making music and being damn good at it.
Sick of that suburban smell, The Districts are kids all grown up, plucky post-teens raised on first loves and any prohibited booze they can get their hands on. Their second album, ‘A Flourish and a Spoil’, exists to document the spiralling effect most people feel when they realise life can’t stay rosy for eternity. That headrush glow of teenage dreams can’t keep.
The worry with still-teenage bands who’ve crafted an awesome live reputation is they get too hyped too soon and spook like dogs hearing fireworks. They hit the studio only to emerge months later, blinking into the daylight, having lost the spark that made them great.No such concern with The Districts, whose philosophy in their short life has been: record now, worry later. The four-piece, from a small Pennsylvanian town called Lititz, self-released the gravelly-sounding ‘Telephone’ back in 2012 while they were still at school.
From their origins as a high-school band made good to their sound, which blends and balances slow-burning, folky anthems and brash rockers, the Districts could seem almost prefabricated if they weren't so genuine. On their impressive debut Telephone, they combined vivid storytelling and showstopping performances with an ease that felt like they'd been doing this their whole lives -- which in a way, they had been. Following in the footsteps of My Morning Jacket, the Replacements, and fellow Fat Possum artists the Walkmen and Cold War Kids, the Districts also manage to stay on the right side of the fine line separating classic from clichéd on A Flourish and a Spoil.
Bar Mark Kozelek and maybe The Village People, most songwriters won't live out their lyrics. No one's got the stamina to fixate on morbid fascinations or thrusting dance moves 24/7. At least that's what we imagine. Times could be troublesome otherwise, especially for The Districts' Rob Grote. As ….
The Districts ride in on the back of a fearsome live reputation and one of the template rock backstories: schoolfriends in smalltown Pennsylvania form a covers band, realise they can write their own songs, and get signed while still teenagers. At the moment, though, there’s still something a little too templated about them. Their second album – their first since Fat Possum signed them – has everything you’d expect from plaid-shirted American rockers: the langorous, smoky voice of Rob Grote, ragged guitars, debts to the usual suspects (the Replacements, especially) and the feeling that, yes, there’s something attractive here.
The Districts’ appeal lies in how you can call them a "rock band" and have a typically vague term mean something specific. Or, maybe, they’re a throwback to the last time "rock band" meant something. All four members are under 21 years old and they play bar-friendly rawk with the irreverence and impatience of kids who still have to get drunk in the parking lot, replacing the classic rock and blues with mannish-boy punk vigor.