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CD of The Week

Week of 3/14/22

    The Districts - Great American Painting (Fat Possum)

    If The Districts fourth album, entitled You Know I'm Not Going Anywhere, and released just as the pandemic shutdown was beginning, was an unexpected premonition, then their fifth album is the reflective response. The Philadelphia band (by way of Lititz, PA) worked with experienced producer Joe Chiccarelli (Morrissey, The Shins, Spoon) to create nine lush, epic songs that further develop their brand of indie and post-punk on Great American Painting. The band spent some time isolated in a Washington state cabin (clearly not going anywhere) observing a timeless rural America to give themselves some perspective outside of the big city, where lead singer Rob Grote indicates he was overwhelmed by protests, gentrification, gun violence, etc. Topics that have clearly worked their way into these new tracks.

    "Revival Psalm" kicks off the album with their signature driving rhythm and lyrics that easily sum up the last two years: "Knocked down to the bottom rung, I'm coughing up a black lung." The trio, rounded out by drummer Braden Lawrence, and bassist Pat Cassidy, have never sounded tighter. No stranger to lockdowns, the band was performing in Paris during the 2015 terrorist strike and was held inside the venue while the events unfolded. This experience was the inspiration behind the song "No Blood." Grote takes a shot at the politics of capitalism in "White Devil" exclaiming "These neighbors dying, and politicians smiling, It's almost comedy, But all these bodies, Abused by the state, Evolved at what rate?" Moving away from societal ills, Grote ruminates over lost love on "Outlaw Love," a beautifully somber ode.

    Lead single "I Want To Feel It All" was inspired by an acid trip Grote took with a 74-year-old Washington local that found them both looking at their older and younger selves respectively. Electronic drums and synths add sublime texture to this revelation that life should not be taken for granted and lived to the fullest: "I wanna live like a blown-out sun... and through the headphones, Like a supernova." The final track "On Our Parting, My Beloved," possibly saving the best for last, leaves the listener with hope and inspiration amidst a rich soundscape that sadly ends too soon. Finishing around 38 minutes, it seems The Districts have only just begun crafting this great American painting. If they keep this pace, then in two years’ time we'll have another album that hopefully highlights the better days ahead.

    The Districts will be playing a hometown show to wrap up their tour on Saturday, April 16th at Union Transfer.
    Review by Dave Lindquist

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