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District 97

Crossover Prog

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District 97 Hybrid Child album cover
3.48 | 116 ratings | 11 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

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)
- Mindscan (27:27) :
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)

Total time 55:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Leslie Hunt / lead & backing vocals
- Jim Tashjian / guitars
- Rob Clearfield / keyboards
- Katinka Kleijn / cello
- Patrick Mulcahy / bass
- Jonathan Schang / drums, percussion, producer

- Rob Clearfield / baritone guitar (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Björn Gooßes

CD The Laser's Edge ‎- LE1057 (2010, US)

Thanks to Garion81 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DISTRICT 97 Hybrid Child ratings distribution

(116 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (10%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

DISTRICT 97 Hybrid Child reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'm finding nothing new here--except the refreshing inclusion of violin. This group has some potential but mostly everything is very cliche and has already been done. Many times. It's always nice to hear a woman's voice in prog--as it is to hear less than typical rock instruments (like violin)--but the songwriting, performing, and too-polished feel need to soften and mature before anything really fresh or innovative comes out of this band. The two minute "Mindscan VII: Exploration" and "Mindscan X: Returning Home" are, to my mind, the album's highlights because of their CRIMSON-like time signature and ensemble performance challenges. Good but not quite excellent. Will look forward to the next.
Review by TheGazzardian
2 stars Although I am giving this album something of a low rating, I still believe that there is a specific subset of people who will really enjoy it.

District97 could easily be described as a pop/prog/metal group and that would get the point across relatively well, yet in no way explain what it is about their music that really makes it appealing. The songs contained herein, especially the first 4, are each high energy songs that follow a more standard song convention. Unlike many prog-pop bands, they don't rely too much on the vocals (even though their vocalist is an American Idol finalist), and let the instruments have a lot of space to take the forefront. I consider this a good thing. The thing is - the instruments aren't really doing anything new for the most part. The guitarist uses a lot of metal riffs, the keys are a bit cheesy - but they are always catchy and upbeat, so even if they're not original, they are enjoyable.

Oh, but there is one aspect of this album that sets these guys apart, and that is Katinka Klejin, a classicaly trained Cellist from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. While adding classical music to rock is nothing new in the prog world, I truly believe that she is the real lifeblood behind the project that makes them worth hearing. Her classical cello playing creates a stark contrast between the more rock/metal/pop oriented music that the rest of the album consists of. There are even parts where I suspect that the scales that the keys and guitars are playing were influenced from her cello playing, because they sound much more classical in nature than the rest of the music. And to top it all off, although I am no cello master, it seems to me that Katinka is quite the gifted cellist. I can only hope her influence in the band grows, for I consider her influence synonymous with the bands quality.

Anyways, the first four songs are pleasant, if they tend to overstay their welcome by a bit (especially the first two tracks). The fifth song, which is split into ten parts, is probably what most prog fans are interested in though. Well, let me tell you, it is by far the best part of the album, not being weighed down by the pop and metal cliches or tiresome lengths of the first few tracks. The longest sections just surpass the three minute mark. It has a lot of good atmosphere, some great catchy moments, and the concept is interesting enough and pulled off pretty well.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Review originally posted at

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!

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars US band DISTRICT 97 was formed in the fall of 2006, and the core line-up established a few months later with the addition of vocalist Leslie Hunt, arguably the only American Idol finalist to date that willingly has joined a band with a firm desire to create progressive rock. They released their debut album "Hybrid Child" in 2010, a production that soon got picked up by the US label Laser's Edge.

If you enjoy diverse music and a versatile approach to the art of creating progressive rock, District 97 is a band you might want to take notice of. They have talent in abundance, and a lead vocalist with an impressive voice and register. And while their debut effort "Hybrid Child" to my ears isn't a remarkable item as such, it is easy to fathom and understand their broad appeal. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work they may well establish themselves as a household name in coming years, inside as well as outside of the art rock universe. The potential is there: time will tell if it gets to be unleashed.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A prog band featuring a former female American Idol finalist?Yes, that's the case with District 97 from Chicago, USA, found in 2006 by drummer Jonathan Schang, keyboardist Rob Clearfield, bassist Patrick Mulcahy and guitarist Sam Krahn, originally playing instrumental music, but the next year they proposed Leslie Hunt, a top 10 A.I. finalist, to join them on vocals.In 2008 Krahn leaves his place to Jim Tashjian, the band soon became a live beast and in 2010 they signed with the Laser's Edge label, that released the debut of the band ''Hybrid Child''.

The music of District 97 recalls the post-2000 sound of SPOCK'S BEARD, apparently scanning the fields of contemporary Progressive Rock with retro-styled structures, featuring quirky movements, powerful riffs, soaring synths and heavy organ breaks.The sound is very rich with plenty of great tempo changes and an impressive ability by the group to change from in-your-face guitar-led grooves and riffs to more symphonic- and vintage-sounding themes.Add a female vocalist with a young and clear voice, a good amount of careful melodies and a unique cellist, Katinka Kleijn, who delivers a few powerful string parts here and there, and you somewhat get the picture.The album even contains a very long epic track, divided in nine pieces, entitled ''Mindscan''.For the most of its part this is very nice music.Alternating between smoother soundscapes and more edgy passages, this one contains the basic components of District 97's musicianship with a touch of a more atmospheric approach.Angular guitar riffing, dominant cello, good vocals, sharp keyboards to go along with calm piano parts, spacey synths and grandiose textures, eventually creating a welcome 27-min. prog suite.

Very good debut, albeit a bit unpersonal.District 97 are a young and very tight group with lot of potential for the future.Recommended to a wide range of fans, from Symphonic Rock lovers to even die-hard Prog metallers.

Review by Wicket
3 stars The discovery of District 97 has always confounded me. Sure the American Idol finalist Leslie Hunt makes for an interesting footnote, one worthy of intrigue. Still, I just wasn't sure exactly where this band was going to go style wise.

I'm not even going to bother reviewing the newer albums, mainly because to my musical ear, the quality has diminished drastically, and the material just isn't captivating or groundbreaking. Personally, I believe this debut effort is by far their best work so far, and even then it's not a brilliant album in comparison to other bands of similar caliber.

The opener starts off with a catchy chorus, it's the kind of hook that wants to drag you in, but it's instantly noticeable from beat 1 that this is no ordinary radio band. So the first few three minutes entertain me for a good time, until the band fades into this b-section I honestly can't remember anything about, before coming back to the main chorus roughly 50 seconds from the end. "I Can't Take You With Me" suffers the same effect. The main theme almost sounds akin to classic Dream Theater riffs, and while I like the melodic progression singer Hunt takes, apart from the organ-like bridge in the middle, it's not really moving me much.

"The Man Who Knows Your Name" suffers the same effect. The instrumental opening sounds like it's designed to be a prog metal intro, meant to shake and rattle and bring the house down, but it honestly sounds half-assed, a bit tinny, and seriously, I almost laughed at how pathetic it sounded at times. I'm not being mean at all, but there's something about the quality that this band has always struggled with, and it's mainly due to the quality. The licks and solos in this particular song are honestly, fantastic. These guys can shred, no lie. They just seriously need a completely new studio and recording crew. Quality issues aside, though, this is of the standouts on this album.

"Termites" is another intriguing prospect. It's not so much a quality issue, but rather the grungy, dirty opening the band foreshadows should've been met with the same approach from Hunt, but at times her voice seems a bit too delicate. Perhaps if the volume dropped considerably once she stepped in (Hunt included), the band could aim for a more mysterious approach and it would've been more effective. However, that's mere nit-picking at this point. I really like this track. A somewhat "meh" opening two tracks has lead to a fantastic inner two.

Which now takes us to the "epic". About 27 and a half minutes long, "Mindscan" scares me. This is a talented band that has a few issues with sound quality. I BS'd about it when I listened to "Troubles With Machines", leaving behind optimism that with a band of this caliber, the quality can only get better from here, and with "In Vaults" it actually got worse. Thankfully, though, the spacy intro riff leads nicely into a beautiful piano melody in "Entrance". The transition to "Realization" though seems a bit abrupt, as if the guitar and keys players where enjoying playing licks up different scales before realizing "oh crap we gotta move on", and suddenly shifted gears. The instrumental licks are fine though from there on out, and "Welcome" is a nice little breath of fresh air, and the light pizzicato's in the background accompanied by a sweet cello melody seems to create a very scholarly air around it, as if it was accompanying a love story set in a London bookstore.

The biggest flaw by this point is the abrupt end to "Welcome" with no segue into "Examination, and I do mean abrupt, as if the band literally had no idea how to move on from there and just had to cut off, and "Examination" in of itself is weird. It just sounds like a collection of materials used to scare people in horror movies with a girl whispering in the back before again cutting off altogether before the nice sweet piano melody returns to close it, as if someone with bipolar disorder composed this entire track.

"Hybrid Child" is a nice and beautiful ballad, a wonderful song that frankly should've been a stand-alone track, while "Exploration" is a cool little instrumental bridge highlighting drummer Jonathan Schang on drums underneath what sounds like a synth drone akin to an Indian tanpura (the instrument that creates that typical drone). The segue to "What Do They Want" is nicely well done, though I wonder if it might have been better if both tracks were combined into one. Nevertheless, I'm still enjoying the song.

The transition to "When I Awake" is good as well, as is that tasty guitar solo towards the end, all as it's wrapped up with "Returning Home", a finale that almost seems to recap "Entrance" and "Realization" in one hectic finale. The finale is impressive actually, a bit more memorable than most finales in big symphonic prog epics where they typically lull and drone by with nice fluffy "Ahhhhhs" dragging along a slovenly, boring drum beat. The piece closes out nicely, though, one of the better epics I've heard recently.

VERDICT: I've tried listening to the later albums, and I haven't gotten even 5 minutes into each before I just completely turned away from them. This album as of right now typing this review is LIGHT YEARS ahead of both "Trouble With Machines" and "In Vaults", and I've given this 3 stars. I'm going to try and listen to both albums and give reviews on them soon as well, and it may take a few listens to figure it out, but honestly, the sound quality just gets worse with release, and it STILL doesn't sound like they don't know what kind of sound they want to make.

The band sounds like they want to rock out like Dream Theater. (with "The Man" and "Termites"), but there's still a desire to create catchy songs, like "I Don't Want To Wait" and "Open Your Eyes" off "Trouble With Machines" (which actually is quite good, by the way). The best bands that instantly appeal to my palette are bands that have their signature sound all sorted out, and these guys (and gals) still don't.

Again, I'm gonna listen to both albums in depth and (hopefully) my opinion may change. All in all, though, this album it still worth a gander from both a prog metal and a simple prog rock fan's perspective.

Maybe I'm just not on the bandwagon yet, I dunno. We'll see

Latest members reviews

4 stars This young band from Chicago released their debut album in 2010 and have already gained a fan base and the boosting and enthusiastic approbation of musicians such as Bill Bruford, John Wetton and Jordan Rudess. They are - no doubts about it - a band with a future, a band you'll hear more and m ... (read more)

Report this review (#644431) | Posted by Music By Mail | Friday, March 2, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Finally, a band in 2010 that has both excellent musicians AND excellent vocalists, thanks to Leslie Hunt (apparently an American Idol finalist - perhaps not the best reference!). Too many potentially good albums in 2010 have been ruined by poor lyrics and poor song delivery in the vocal department. ... (read more)

Report this review (#308467) | Posted by Gilgamesh182 | Friday, November 5, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one strong debut album. Absolutely wow! It's a brilliant mix of pop and prog, like progressive pop. Or pop in opposition? Don't know what to call it, but it feels like a breath of fresh air in the world of progressive rock and takes the genre in a direction we're not completely familiar w ... (read more)

Report this review (#300580) | Posted by Speedmouse | Sunday, September 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I would normally think of giving this album a 4/5, because it's not perfect. I'm giving it a 5/5 because PA reviewers are simply too quick on the 5 star button, and no album can really pierce through without a 5 star rating. And boy does this album deserve to pierce through.... I really d ... (read more)

Report this review (#299986) | Posted by jjg.denis.robert | Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Progressive rock is a curious beast. Rising from the psychedelia of Britain's late 60s, its heyday was some forty years ago. Of its reputation, album side-long suites, extensive soloing and cosmic album covers remain their legacy, one that is both revered by some, and dubious to others. It was ... (read more)

Report this review (#297004) | Posted by djfake | Wednesday, September 1, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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