THE DISTRICTS are a four-piece indie rock band from the small town of Lititz, Pennsylvania. The group formed in 2009 while members Rob Grote, Mark Larson, Connor Jacobus, and Braden Lawrence were still in high school. The prolific young band released their first EP, Kitchen Songs, in 2011, followed by Telephone, their debut full-length, the following year. Now into their third LP, Popular Manipulations, the band has represented an exponential leap in sound and cohesion, an impressive and impassioned burn with a wide scope that threatens to swallow everything else surrounding it.
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 DISTRICTS 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. A mix of jangly indie Americana and blues-inspired rock n’ roll baby.
KATIE VON SCHLEICHER rose from intern to artist on Brooklyn label Ba Da Bing with Bleaksploitation, a self-recorded 2015 mini album of irreverent, fuzz-laden tunes. On her debut full-length, VON SCHLEICHER strikes again on the magic that comes from her warped and uncompromising sound. Shitty Hits channels the bright, sunny radio burners of the 1970’s, songs you drive to, carefree, and songs you can cry to, which The Guardian describe as “Portishead meets the Beatles,” and NPR’s Bob Boilen calls “one of those constant repeat records for me."
SUN SEEKER has drawn applause for their unhurried breed of Cosmic American Music and with BIDDEFORD (Third Man Records), their long awaited debut EP, the Nashville-based band more than affirm their promise. The EP – which follows SUN SEEKER’s widely acclaimed Third Man debut single, 2016’s Georgia Dust b/w No One Knows – sees Alex Benick (guitar, vocals), Asher Horton (bass guitar, vocals), and Ben Parks (drums, vocals) exploring nostalgia, melancholy, and emotional turmoil via laidback psychedelia pollinated with tight harmonies, classic folk songcraft, and country rock spirit, an ageless approach that is simultaneously archetypal and now utterly their own. Songs like With Nothing (But Our Last Words) and the yearning Won’t Keep Me Up At Night meld Benick’s candid lyricism and stark melodies with creative arrangement and production technique, fashioning a sonic world to match their interior emotional scope.