District 97 – Hybrid Child

Nice modern prog from USA!

District 97 are a young band from the United States whose first studio album was released in 2010, gaining recognition and good words from press and fans. With the addition of a female voice, the band took a direction that can be described as a light progressive rock, with a clear modern sound, but with some use of vintage elements such as keyboards.
“Hybrid Child” features 14 compositions which actually can be reduced to 5, since the suite entitled “Mindscan” is divided in 10 pieces.

The album opens with “I Don’t Want to Wait Another Day”, a catchy track with repetitive vocals and a kind of metal-ish sound created by guitars and drums. Keyboards are pretty nice during the whole track, but what stands apart is the addition of a cello, which always appears in the right moment, when it is needed. The song is not bad at all, but it would have been better if it was shorter.

“I Can’t Take You With Me” is one of their presentation cards, a progressive-pop track that can be loved or hated, due to its catchy sound, so while some may consider this an interesting song, others may say it is boring as hell and that it does not add anything new; both opinions are valid, and in a way I share both.

“The Man Who Knows Your Name” starts with some kind of heavy and coordinated sound, guitars and bass sharing the same lines, while drums seems to be on other road, which sounds coll. Later keyboards join and present a strong front that will complement the previously mentioned instruments. And last but not least, the cello appears a minute later, and it gives that special flavor to the music, this is a thing to highlight, it was a perfect decision to include a cello in District 97 sound. This is a completely progressive rock track (I remark that because of the usually pop label this band has), even when female voice appears and the style changes a little bit, it does not harm at all, actually, this is a really strong song that one can easily enjoy.

“Termites” returns to that kind of heavy oriented prog that the band offers, it has a nice contrast because in one hand they have guitars and drums playing heavy and loud, and in the other hand cello produces a delicate sound, and the voice is softer, as strong as she screams, her voice does not really share that sensation of power. The instrumental passages are pretty cool, I especially enjoy the keyboard solos. Nice track.

Now I have a little problem, because I have reached “Mindscan” which as I previously said is a long epic divided in ten parts, so what to do, should I review it as a whole, single but long song, or should I go part by part, actually I will tend to the latter. And that is because each part is in fact short, so I can easily talk about the ten passages. First of all, I have to say that I like this ambitious project, and I consider the band succeeded with it, additionally, if we know this is their debut album, then we have to be happy because surely they will delight us in the future.

The “Arrival” is a short and soft dreamy introduction that leads to “Entrance”, which is a beautiful piano-oriented track, with a classical sound that is brightly accompanied by cello, creating such a great atmosphere. In “Realization” the music explodes and seems to be a chaos for more than 30 seconds, later a new passage appears and one can imagine things and situations. I like a lot (once again) the keyboard sound; this is one of my favorite parts of this suite. Then in “Welcome” vocals appear for the first time and create along with cello a very gently sound. Then we can listen to some bass lines just before vocals appear once again.

When “Examination” starts we can notice a big change because here the music fades and slows down, sharing only soft sounds that share a mysterious feeling, like if something is going to happen next. After a minute a whispering voice appears and that weird soft but tense sound prevails. It fades out and when the voice enters, we are actually listening to “Hybrid Child”, a passage that perfectly follows its predecessor, the sound is charming and tranquilizing.

Now, when everything seems to be like that (tranquilizing), “Exploration” invades us with a spontaneous heavier sound, with a good background atmosphere, nice drums and fast and hypnotizing guitars/keys/cello notes.

After that nice instrumental passage, vocals reappear in the very first second of “What do they want” ,and here the music continues as fast and heavier as the previous track. “When I Awake” is a piece I really like, since the first moments when the sound is like the previous song, passing through that calm moment when it slows down, until the heavier change when the chorus appears along with a cool guitar solo. This catchy piece may also be one of my favorites.

And finally we reach the end with “Returning Home”. You will know you are here when the skillful guitar appears opening the gates to that metal-ish sound. This last part is also an instrumental one, and a nice way of saying goodbye. The last minute is like the first part, dreamy and atmospheric.

This is a nice debut, with some great things to remember, and some to be improved, however I am happy with this District 97 offering.

Enjoy it!


1. I Don’t Want To Wait Another Day (7:17)
2. I Can’t Take You With Me (5:36)
3. The Man Who Knows Your Name (8:48)
4. Termites (5:53)
5. Mindscan I: Arrival (1:30)
6. Mindscan II: Entrance (3:07)
7. Mindscan III: Realization (2:45)
8. Mindscan IV: Welcome (2:47)
9. Mindscan V: Examination (2:53)
10. Mindscan VI: Hybrid Child (3:30)
11. Mindscan VII: Exploration (2:19)
12. Mindscan VIII: What Do They Want (2:42)
13. Mindscan IX: When I Awake (3:12)
14. Mindscan X: Returning Home (2:42)


* Jim Tashjian – guitars
* Rob Clearfield – keyboards
* Patrick Mulcahy – bass
* Jonathan Schang – drums, tambourine
* Leslie Hunt – vocals
* Katinka Kleijn – cello



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: