District 97 – “Trouble With Machines” (2012)


Label : Laser’s Edge

Review by Tony Cannella

Impressive! Utterly impressive and unexpectedly so, that is my first impression of the Chicago based progressive rock/metal outfit District 97 and their second album “Trouble With Machines”. The band is fronted by Leslie Hunt who was a top 10 American Idol finalist in 2007. You would never expect a contestant from that show to be playing in such an adventurous and progressive band, but that is indeed the case.

First off, vocalist Leslie Hunt is a revelation and the musicians that make up District 97 are virtuosos to say the least. The band mixes long, epic, intricately played numbers with shorter 4-5 minute more accessible songs throughout the 7-song, 55-minute disc. The almost 9-minute “Back and Forth” is the first track and a fantastic song. A couple of shorter ones follow “Open Your Eyes” and “The Actual Color” both can appeal to wide audience. Next is the 10-minute track “The Perfect Young Man”. This is my favorite song and features guest vocals from John Wetton (Asia/King Crimson) and includes some Jon Lord/Ken Hensley style organ solos which really add a lot to the song. The album is completed with the close to 14-minute tour de force epic “The Thief”. This song has so many tempo and time changes that it’ll make your head spin. This is definitely a song with a lot going on it, so it may take some time to grow.

It is easy to see why such prog legends as Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, and Genesis) and John Wetton have heaped praises on “Trouble With Machines”. District 97 is an excellent prog rock band that can also potentially appeal to a mainstream audience.

Rating – 93/100



  1. Back and Forth
  2. Open Your Eyes
  3. The Actual Color
  4. The Perfect Young Man
  5. Who Cares?
  6. Read Your Mind
  7. The Thief


Line Up

  • Leslie Hunt – Vocals
  • Jim Tashijian – Guitar
  • Rob Clearfield – Keyboards
  • Patrick Mulcahy – Bass
  • Jonathan Schang – Drums


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