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District 97, In Vaults (Lasers Edge Records)
CD Reviews: July 23, 2015

07/23/15



District 97, In Vaults (Lasers Edge Records)

Have to admit, I had the Ginsu knife sharpened for this Chicago prog band. Just look at ‘em — four A/V nerds in glasses and a girl singer, the latter just happening to be a former Top 10 finalist on (eyeroll) American Idol. Banzai, right? But no, this is surprisingly good egghead-rock, demonstrating for posterity the reason why they’ve won slots opening for Kansas and King Crimson’s John Wetton, who thinks they’re utterly awesome. I suppose they are, now that he mentions it, even if the Rick Wakeman-esque keyboards sound a little dated, especially on “Handlebars.” The ever-shifting palette ranges from Beyonce-diva (the opening bits of “A Lottery”) to Meshuggah-inspired speed-doom (“Death by a Thousand Cuts”) with plenty of regular-joe prog-rock touchstones that recall Asia, Evanescence, things like that. I’m far too jaded at this point to flip out over this, but jeez, this band really is good — check out how “All’s Well That Ends Well” so ambitiously mimics Yes’s “Close to the Edge.” Dig that crazy cover art while you’re at it. A+ Eric W. Saeger





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