Time has decreed that there will always be a fan base for old-school, scrappy-voiced rock & roll, and plenty of bands young and old, who'll provide it. Whether or not those bands have anything new to say is up for debate. Hailing from Pennsylvania's historic Lancaster County are the Districts, four young men with electric guitars, tube amps, passionate, raw vocals and a familiarly appealing sound. Landing somewhere between the rock & soul sound of Cold War Kids and the folk-pop throes of the Walkmen, the Districts distinguish their sound with a jangling alt-country bent and youthful enthusiasm. The group formed and released two independent EPs and a full-length album all while still attending high school. In interviews, the group's young age is not a topic they wish to dwell upon, but it's worth noting that they've managed to carve out an enviable semi-pro career with legit gigs, releases, and good press all before graduation. Their work ethic paid off in 2013 when they were picked up by Fat Possum Records, who pieced together this self-titled EP using a few standouts from the band's 2012 LP, Telephone, bookended by two new songs. Kicking off the set is "Rocking Chair," an able, riffy jangle rocker, sung with sweaty abandon and featuring some nicely arranged group backing vocals. The middle three tracks, all plucked from their self-released LP, continue with the same sort of strummy, reverb-drenched indie rock as the opener. The slow-building "Funeral Beds" was an early success for the band when a live video of the song went viral on Reddit in 2012. The fifth and final track, "Stay Open," shows a bit more range with a dynamic complexity that is rather lacking on the rest of the EP. The Districts' wheelhouse of soulful, midtempo guitar rock is a crowded field and, though well-played, their bluesy world-weariness begins to come across as unconvincing. This set is a solid introduction to what the band does and will likely garner them some new admirers, but now that the Districts have entered the indie big leagues, their next effort will need to show some more artistic development for the band to have legs.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger