District 97 – Trouble With Machines
2012 Laser’s Edge Records
The one thing abut Chicago’s District 97, playing to the verse, chorus, verse song formula is not in the band’s vocabulary. You don’t get too many ‘youngsters’ playing progressive rock in the traditional sense, nor some that want to deviate beyond indie rock; but this band doesn’t give a shit about conforming to mainstream rock, that’s for sure.
Enough of the American Idol connection already, it needs to be all about the music and not some hype. Leslie Hunt is a fine vocalist in her own right, but her voice is more suited for pop, or even straightforward rock and roll – so yes it’s in the vein of Kelly Clarkston and Katy Perry. As for the record itself, Trouble with Machines reeks and bleeds of pretentiousness, sounding too ‘edited;’ for many, getting through all of the musicianship is hard, as their arrangements and structures do not resonate with those who might want to hear anthem choruses or something catchy for that matter. Yet for a progger, District 97 are a wild dream. you have all the insane staccato rhythms, solos, and jittery improvisations, along with all of the key changes everyone loves so much – high points include the more straightforward “Open Your Eyes,” the metal minded & extended “The Perfect Young Man,” & the semi-ballad “Read Your Mind.” The record might be a another milestone for progressive rock, but outside of the genre, rock and rollers will probably stick with something more safe.