I have zero gripes pointing out how stupidly biased my opinions of this Lititz, Pennsylvania-native, blue-folk alternative rock band are. The first time I heard The Districts, nearly a year ago, was at a cozy (euphemism for shoddy) DIY venue/rentable event space that had been transformed from a dilapidated Bushwick storefront. It was their first New York gig, they announced before the show, which only did more to characterize their tender footed, amateurish appearance. But the sound that emanated from these four humble Pennsylvanians just about swept me off my feet. I was floored. Their calloused, calamitous integrity for the blues and progressive folk music, in stark contrast the rest of night’s lineup, was indisputably genuine, unbelievably dynamic.
This week The Districts released their first, self-titled EP, a follow-up to the 2012 album debut Telephone, released on the Oxford, Mississippi-based label Fat Possum Records (where The Black Keys released their records in the good ole days). The independent alternative rock act is gaining traction with their material, inspiring promotional coverage from Rolling Stoneand billed for Atlanta, Georgia’s Shaky Knees Music Festival this year. The EP only contains two new songs, three of the five tracks recycled and remastered from their first album, but this in no way detracts from the experience of hearing this band’s newest material. The Districts opener “Rocking Chair” and closer “Stay Open,” are electric and vibrant, embellished with a sophisticated kind of effortlessness. The band hasn’t cleaned up their sound with fancy production work, as so many independent rock bands are prone to, so much as exaggerated their already slovenly aura.
At times The Districts verge on an almost gospel-like despondency, with vocalist Rob Grote illuminated by his gruff, scoured timbre. Tracks like “Long Distance” are perfect vehicles for his animated, high-strung intensity, expounding in euphonious uproars while retreating for diminished breaks. The band will spend much of this year touring with Austin, Texas-based White Denim, sure to garner a progressive amount of exposure as The Districts seeps into more and more earholes.