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The Deli Philly’s February Record of the Month: The Districts - The Districts

The Deli Philly’s February Record of the Month: The Districts - The Districts

Hot on the heels of signing with Mississippi-based label Fat Possum Records, The Districts have released an eponymous five-song EP. Bookending the record are a pair of new tracks, “Rocking Chair” and “Stay Open,” produced by Bill Moriarty, with three standouts from their self-released LP Telephone - “Lyla,” “Funeral Beds,” and “Long Distance” - sandwiched in between.
A swirling guitar pattern punctuated by a touch of percussion lays the foundation for Rob Grote’s vocals in “Rocking Chair,” which are delivered at a quick-hitting yet evolving pace. The guitars and percussion build a rolling tempo, before slowing as Grote momentarily admits, “If I drink some more, well, I think I might drown. Slip into silence as my heart it burns out. Find the devil inside me, and I nail him back down,” capped by a collective exuberant “whew” setting off an abbreviated example of the quartet’s foot-stomping instrumentation. Then, the lyrics take a prophetic twist as Grote emotively utters, “If the devil ever comes around, shiver at the sight…” returning to the collective chorus “Things ain’t what they used to be…” ramping up into an elongated energetic instrumental display including unleashed guitar runs.
“Lyla” slows things down creating a more intimate atmosphere befitting the lyrics. The time-placing combination of bass and percussion are accented by acoustic guitar and brightened by touches of organ and strings, while Mark Larson’s clear, distancing slide guitar provides an extra dimension as Grote questions, “Will we ever be what this heart held for you and me? Will we ever be the same?”
As the guitar leads into the folk/blues blown harmonica and the “on the move” train-churning percussion, “Funeral Beds” encapsulates an ever-escalating heartbreaking blues. “These great fields are stretching taking me oh so far…” The song winds through a narrative series of lyrics that with each succeeding line seems to dig deeper into Grote ushering a powerfully raw outpouring of emotion, culminating as the full speed ahead instrumentation and his vocals boil over - “And I hate to say I love you, but oh god damn, I love you, you know I do…”
“Long Distance” is a slow-burning blues rocker with a ringing guitar that relates the yearning of separated lovers. Grote introspectively opens up offering heartfelt lyrics - “Give me a minute or two to control myself, a minute to get back down to where you are. I just want to come down, and I just want to get back down,to see what this face really means to me.” He continuously pushes the envelope, pulling the heartstrings until they appear ready to snap, questioning, “Long distance, slow time - is it easier?” - ultimately unloading aggression into an instrumental assault before bouncing back to lead the group in an anthem-like sing-along conclusion.
The EP closes with “Stay Open,” which bashes the door in with its combination of downhill drums and raucous guitar as Grote croons. As the slide sirens and he exclaims, “Won’t give my love for free!” The song offers an excellent, balanced approach, exemplifying both a natural inclination to exhibit unfiltered feeling, while holding back just enough to orchestrate the polished finish at the song’s end. Grote softly pleads, “Stay open, stay open to catch my fall, what a shame…” backed by the harmonizing “oh my God, falling to pieces, oh my God, falling apart…”
The Districts continue to grow and evolve as a group. This EP is both an acknowledgement of their recent past, a snapshot of their present and an indication that the quartet has the makings of an incandescent future. - Michael Colavita

The Districts - Funeral Beds by FatPossum

Published: February 03, 2014 |

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