One of the positive things to come out of the recent lockdown is the opportunity it has presented to catch up on artists one may have slept on. One such artist for me: The Districts. The band hails from Lilitz, PA, located in the same region, west of Philadelphia, which gave us Live, the Innocence Mission, and the very great Ocean Blue, among others. The Districts has since relocated to Philly.
A friend’s husband, apparently, is a Stan, but I only stumbled onto them earlier this year via BBC Radio 6 Music, who had the band’s “Hey, Jo” in heavy rotation during the winter. The album, You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere, their fourth, was released in March.
This album is odd in that it gets stronger as it moves along, the opposite of many long players, especially more recent ones. The opener, “My Only Ghost,” is a haunting affair that does a good job setting the overall tone. That’s followed by the first single, the aforementioned “Hey, Jo,” one of the best songs of the year, by the way.
“Cheap Regrets,” the first official single from the album, follows and presents a solid ’70s vibe, with decidedly 21st century emo vocals. Quite a groover, it stands in sharp contrast to “Hey, Jo,” while still maintaining the band’s sound.
What looks to be the third single, “Velour and Velcro,” follows. It’s a rocky affair that echoes Simple Minds or ‘80s-era U2 but not purposely. It has just enough new wave in it to give one a sense of the band’s many influences.
It’s toward the end of album, though, where things really pick up. “Sidecar” is an earnest rocker, which should definitely be a single. “And the Horses All go Swimming” is another winner and also echoes the ‘80s, but in this case the underlying keyboard riff recalls OMD or Depeche Mode.
“Fourth of July,” with its folky opener and strange-but-appealing whistle hook, closes the album and leaves the listener wanting more. That could be because there isn’t one real banger here, though “Hey, Jo,” comes close, as does “Horses.” Still, this is a solid effort from top to bottom, with no speed bumps.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of You Know I’m not Going Anywhere is that it fits in well with today’s alternative music, while managing to distance itself from the genre just enough to avoid the pitfalls and conventions that go along with it.
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.