Stay For The Ending by District 97Release date: October 20, 2023
Label: Spirit of Unicorn Music
Like a motorcycle revving up its engines and heading out on the highway, Chicago’s own District 97 have something underneath their sleeve when it comes to the combination between progressive rock, metal, unexpected time changes, avant-rock, and pop-orientated arrangements rolled into one. Their latest album Stay for the Ending is almost like a ticking time-bomb, waiting to explode at any second.
This gives them more ammunition, more complex songs, more ideas, and more production levels to get the tanks rolling. The opening title-track starts out with some powder-kegging riffs Tashjian, Seisser, and Schang create together as Hunt channels the vocal styles of Moorea Dickason from her MoeTar years. Not only that, but you can hear the Rush and King Crimson influences rolled into one delicious deli sandwich that is served to you!
Meanwhile ‘Many New Things’ goes into a different direction. They take an ‘80s new wave approach as Hunt sees herself returning to her pop roots as she reflects the memories she had when she was young and proving herself that she’s more than just a finalist from American Idol in 2007. She has branched out from that and learning to search for her own identity.
The first minute and fifty seconds has this atmospheric approach which speaks of Ultravox’s Vienna sessions. And then, it transforms into a loop-hole as Lawerence gives Tashjian and Seisser some ideas by honouring the unsung heroes of the progressive genre, Gentle Giant and elements of Zappa’s latter years to swing from one branch to another.
And then, we head into the world of Asian music for a brief moment by creating these rain-dropping effects that Tashjian and Lawrence do to sail across the sea, viewing the beautiful landscapes and then segueing into a brutal monster-like form to go medieval on yo’ ass with ascending touches on ‘Crossover’.
The two-parter ‘X’ and ‘X-Faded’ have walk themselves into dangerous corridors with the themes of climate change, natural disasters, abortion, women’s right to choose, and the toxic situation on social media. Leslie pushes the envelope with her vocal lines to get the complex situation into a volcanic chorus she hits throughout on the ranges she pushes through.
It has these insane values of the characterisations she goes through before it goes into a mental breakdown at the very end which speaks of something’s about to go off in the last forty seconds that almost goes up the loony bin levels whilst ‘The Watcher’ sees Hunt transforming herself into the realms of Peter Hammill’s lyrical textures, Ligeti’s ‘Musica Ricercata’, dooming metal sounds, ‘70s Italian prog, and the vibrations of the Orwellian nightmares coming to life.
Stay For The Ending has given District 97 a lot of hope and desire to prove who they really are. The work that is on here, will make you want to see what you are missing. And I was little skeptical about them at first, but listening to the new album, I have shown some appreciation for what they’ve done. So, if you’re very new to the band’s music, this might be a perfect start to see and hear what the fuss is all about.