Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “4th and Roebling” by The Districts from the 2015 album A Flourish and a Spoil on Fat Possum Records.
Hailing from the small town of Libitz, Pennsylvania, The Districts took the idea of using rock and roll as their ticket out of their hometown and followed through on it, mixing storytelling lyrics with tight and ragged performances. Rob Grote, Mark Larson, Connor Jacobus, and Braden Lawrence formed The Districts in 2009 while they were still in high school and released their first EP in 2011. Intent on striking while the iron was hot, they released their full length debut, 2012’s Telephone and the acoustic-leaning While You Were In Honesdale not long after. Signing with Fat Possum only weeks before the members’ intended start date at Temple University, (save for Larson, who went to school and was replaced by Pat Cassidy), the label reissued the band’s output ahead of a year of heavy touring, including a triumphant showing at SXSW 2014. Their second LP, the stronger, hookier, more engaging A Florish and a Spoil, arrived earlier this year to critical acclaim and another year of heavy touring. “4th and Roebling” serves as both the album’s opening track and a thesis statement of sorts: it’s a Casablancas/Turner-style character study of the band, by the band. Riding a wave of nervous energy, Grote wanders the streets and train station of his hometown, toeing the line between sober reflection and inebriated introspection. With the rhythm section channeling a ragged R&B vibe, Grote’s vocal performance pushes the song from simply being loud to something more urgent. When he shouts out the final lyrics – “I ain’t the same anymore, you’ve gone and changed I’m sure/You’ve gone and changed from before and I’m trying to find the right words” – Grote has never sounded more unsatisfied, confused, or anguished, but he’s also produced an absolutely thrilling climax to his own drunken self-dissection.
Next week, The Districts will bring A Flourish and A Spoil to Seattle when they play at the Tractor Tavern on Wednesday, March 4th and LIVE on KEXP the next afternoon, on March 5th, at 1:00 p.m. Get more info and tickets to that 21+ Tractor show here, keep up with the band at their website and Facebook, and below, watch the band play “4th and Roebling” live at SXSW 2014.