I have gone on record before about my penchant for female singers. They simply bring a unique sound to modern metal music with the potential to make any of its subgenres richer by the inclusion. Case in point: Chicago's District 97, whose sophomore effort Trouble With Machines is one of the best things I've heard in a while, period.
My enjoyment of the band is largely due to Leslie Hunt, who some may remember as a finalist on American Idol a few years back. The band was originally an instrumental prog outfit a lá Liquid Tension Experiment before deciding they wanted to add a vocalist. Leslie's voice (sounding like a cross between Swing Out Sister's Corinne Drewery and Björk) is refreshing, being a rock singer that doesn't downplay the higher registers and soulful timbre of her natural voice within the medium of a heavy (at times) prog rock outfit. Sure, there are others that resist the temptation to try to compete with the cookie monster roars of their male counterparts, but Leslie isn't afraid to put some real soul into it, providing a beautiful contrast to the often colder, more technical side of such music.
The music alone would still get a high rating from me, reminding me of simliar bands such as Spock's Beard or Gordian Knot with a more guitar-oriented sound. Guest spots by such prog luminaries as John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia) and Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, Gordian Knot) don't hurt either.
The Bottom Line: This relatively new band scratches my prog rock itch in a big way, and the vocals of Leslie Hunt on top really put things into a refreshingly unique soundspace. I'm loving this band!
Tracks to Make You Search for District 97 on YouTube: Open Your Eyes, The Actual Color, The Perfect Young Man, Who Cares?
- Genghis won't stop playing this album at the office today (suck it, co-workers!)...