The Districts – Tickets – The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA – August 7th, 2017
Sam Evian, Soccer Mommy
Mon, August 7, 2017
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pmThe Sinclair
$18 advance / $20 day of show
This event is 18 and over
The Sinclair is general admission standing room only. Tickets available at AXS.COM, or by phone at 888-929-7849. No service charge on tickets purchased in person at The Sinclair Box office Wednesdays-Saturdays 12-7PM. Please note: box office is cash only.https://www.sinclaircambridge.com/event/1474878/
The total electric charge of Popular Manipulations is just the latest evolution for the impressively young quartet, whose founding members -- vocalist/guitarist Rob Grote, bassist Connor Jacobus, and drummer Braden Lawrence -- have known each other since attending grade school together in the Pennsylvania town of Lititz. After deciding to form a band in high school, the Districts gigged hard in the tri-state area, releasing a slew of promising material (including the rootsy 2012 debut Telephone) before catching the eye of venerable indie Fat Possum. 2015's A Flourish and a Spoil found the band refining their embryonic sound with veteran producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Kurt Vile) -- and looking back on that release, there are glimmers of Popular Manipulations in chrysalis form to be found on it, hints of the fence-swinging anthemic sound they'd soon make wholly their own.
After touring behind A Flourish and a Spoil, Grote began "playing with different ideas" in his own songwriting by making demos at a prolific pace. "We knew that we wanted to change some things musically, so we were trying to come up with as many songs as possible to narrow the direction we wanted to take the material," he states. In total, they ended up with 50 song ideas, and so they were off to LA in May of 2016 with new guitarist Pat Cassidy in tow to log more recording time with Congleton, with four of Popular Manipulations' songs coming out of the sessions.
"We have a lot of overlapping tastes and preferences for how things are made," Grote gushes about working with the notably reliable studio wizard -- but acceding all credit to Congleton (who also handled the record's mixdown) would be shortchanging the Districts themselves, who went on to self-produce the remainder of the record in Philadelphia with engineer Keith Abrams. "Something we took from working with Congleton was ideas on arranging songs," Grote explains, and they certainly learned a lot: Popular Manipulations is a raucous and impressively thick-sounding album, overflowing with toothy melodies that pack a serious punch.
The distinctly intense sound of Popular Manipulations -- charging guitars, thunderous drumming, and Grote's searing vocals -- was brought on by a few cited influences, from shoegaze's aggressive swirl to the Velvet Underground's impeccable drone-rock sound. There's a distinctly Canadian flavor to this brand of indie rock, too; Spencer Krug's anthemic, lushly inscrutable work in Wolf Parade and his defunct Sunset Rubdown side project comes to mind, as does 2000s Toronto barnburners the Diableros' overlooked 2006 gem You Can't Break the Strings in Our Olympic Hearts.
But don't mistake easy comparisons for a lack of originality: on Popular Manipulations, the District are in a lane entirely their own, exploring lyrical themes of isolation and abandonment in a way that ups the music's already highly charged emotional quotient. "Capable" finds Grote turning his focus to the ruinous aftermath of divorce, and "Before I Wake" is, in his words, "About coming to terms with being isolated or alone -- even though we have a whole group of voices singing the whole time." Grote explains that even the title of the record touches on these universal concerns: "It hints at how people use each other, for good or bad, and the personal ways you manipulate yourself and other people in day-to-day interactions."
For such weighty thematic material, though, Popular Manipulations is purely life-affirming rock music, bursting with energy that cuts through the darkness of the world that surrounds us. "We're a much better distillation of who we wish to be as a band," Grote reflects on the journey that has led the Districts to this point. "We've figured out how to distill the things we've been trying to accomplish as a band, musically and lyrically. We've always viewed making music as something we're trying to do better the whole time." Mission accomplished.
“Sleep Easy” is the first track to be shared from Premium, the debut Sam Evian LP, scheduled for release in 2016. The limpid ease of Premium was captured in just a handful of days at Figure 8 studio in Brooklyn, where Sam is a resident engineer and producer.
Watch the music video for “Sleep Easy“. (Video cleared to post and share).
Glowing lead guitar, aching pedal steel, Wurlitzer keys and iconic 20th-century synths coalesce over a sublime, supportive rhythm section, guiding Sam’s melodies through a semi-familiar mist: the post-’60s zeitgeist, a sun-baked cassette of Pet Sounds, the modern struggle for emotional involvement in the internet age.
Get “Sleep Easy”: iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Soundcloud
“Sleep Easy” is available on limited edition 7 inch vinyl backed with “You Have To Hydrate” – ready to ship in September and available for pre-order now at the Saddle Creek Online Store.
“Someone once told me that having one penny is 100% better than having no pennies. Making Premium was like picking a lucky penny up off the street. I wrote the songs ten days prior to my first show, though the ideas had been living under the surface for some years. Sometimes a deadline is all you need. The band came together effortlessly and we found ourselves in the studio on borrowed time, smiling a lot. The use of ‘Premium’ is funny to me. Bottled water is funny to me. We’re all hustling the same thing and packaging it in different ways. Stay hydrated,” says Sam.
‘Oh, it was wonder of wonders. And then, a bird of like rarest spun heavenmetal, or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now, came the violin solo above all the other strings, and those strings were like a cage of silk round my bed. Then flute and oboe bored, like worms of platinum, into the thick thick toffee gold and silver. I was in such bliss, my brothers.” -Anthony Burgess
The songs portray an artist fully-formed, mature far beyond her age. Sophie sings of toxic relationships, infatuations, and all the experiences of being a teenage girl. Or, as Sophie describes her subject matter, “crush stuff with a hint of bad to it.” There’s a playfulness to the music that belies the sophisticated nature of the songcraft. The songs can be sweet, they can be happily melancholic or melancholically happy, but they always cut deep. They belong on playlists and mixes, to be shared among friends and belted out during road trips. Collection is destined to be a favorite record. These perfect pop gems have power.
‘Allison,’ a gorgeous meditation on the bittersweet feeling of hurting someone you love while pursuing your own dreams, showcases Sophie’s talent for home recording, with multi-tracked vocals layered to perfection. On ‘Out Worn,’ a searing takedown of the desire for male validation, Sophie sings, “Not the girl that you thought I’d be/ My makeup stains all your white tees/ Bite my nails ‘til my fingers bleed/ And I can’t always hide.” The song is relatable and anthemic, striking the perfect balance between anger and sugary pop bliss.
There’s a freedom and a joy to this music, and Collection stands as an excellent to a powerful new voice. Critics may decry the end of guitar music, same as they have for over thirty years. The fact remains that as long as records like Collection exist, there will be no shortage of young artists bashing their hearts out on guitars for years to come. “You can’t say indie rock is dead,” says Sophie. “It’s just being taken over by women.”
52 Church St
Cambridge, MA, 02138