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District 97: Screens

Screens is the fourth studio release from Chicago 'crossover prog' act District 97, released in late 2019 on MindScan Records. The current line-up of the band includes Leslie Hunt (vocals), Jim Tashjian (guitars, vocals), Andrew Lawrence (keyboards), Tim Seisser (bass), and Jonathan Schang (drums). What is 'crossover prog' you might ask? Apparently, modern progressive rock mixed with elements of pop, jazz, and metal, based on what we've heard from District 97 over the course of their career. Originally an all-instrumental outfit, with the addition of American Idol finalist Hunt into the band, they have taken their formidable musical chops and injected all of these other elements into their material, of which their vocalist is more than capable to handle. Leslie can go from soft, jazzy crooning to a more aggressive stance at the drop of a hat, and she does so quite often throughout Screens, as on the energetic mix of crunchy metal & jazz that is "Shapeshifter". "Blueprint" starts out as a soft slice of melodic and jazzy pop, before the massive riffing, complex rhythms, and blazing synths come roaring into play. That's what District 97 likes to do to the listener, treat them to the 'calm before the storm' so to speak. "Forest Fire" is another highlight here, Hunt's soaring pipes gliding over alluring synths, metallic riffing, and gymnastic drums, while "Sheep" is a wonderful progressive metal track that also shows off the jazz-fusion tendencies of the band quite nicely. Jim & Leslie share vocal duties on the quite proggy "Bread & Yarn", and Screens concludes with the near 11-minute epic "Ghost Girl", a moody, almost King Crimson/Dream Theater inspired track filled with menace and stellar musical passages.

If you are looking for some modern progressive rock that delivers something different from the norm, Screens is an album I'd highly recommend seeking out. Kudos to District 97 for once again delivering the goods.

Track Listing
1. Forest Fire 04:58
2. Sheep 06:41
3. Sea I Provide 02:51
4. Bread & Yarn 07:33
5. Trigger 04:42
6. After Orbit Mission 01:32
7. Shapeshifter 05:46
8. Blueprint 04:14
9. Ghost Girl 10:51

Added: January 19th 2020
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 1422
Language: english

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