2011 – The Districts – Kitchen Songs

UPDATE: See our 2014 follow up with The Districts.

I used to live in York, Pennsylvania. Little did I know that a few kids (probably in grade school or junior high the time I was there) in near by Lititz, PA were about to make a name for themselves. The Districts is made up of four very young members who play a soul-filled style of rock. You can pick up out influences by the dozen and their style travels a fascinating line between Blues and Grunge Rock.

Distorted guitars play jazz-like riffs in tracks like Thank You Please, and the music in Radiator has an indie-folksy sound, similar to that of Dr. Dog.

What makes The Districts stand out from their peers, right now, is in the lyrics and vocals. Although I’m unsure who writes the lyrics, Rob Grote belts them out like a downtrodden blues singer struggling to find his next meal. He sings with conviction and confidence. The only downside is that the rest of the band is okay. The instrumentals in the band go well together, they are well rehearsed, and sound fine. But absolutely nothing on the album is going to wow you or make you astonished at the talents of the musicians. You should anticipate, though, that if the members are this good at this age, that they very well could do something to knock your socks off in the next year or two – and as long as they keep playing and stay part of the scene there in the Lancaster area, they will mature. You have to, in that neck of the woods: there are an abnormal amount of skilled players there. But I have high hopes that The Districts will continue to stand out, and not just because of their young age.

If you think all of this sounds interesting, you can stream the entire album from The Districts’ bandcamp site, then download the album with a “name your price” scheme – how much is it worth to you to support up and coming talent?

Charge your cell phone with your Xbox 360

This Xbox tip of the week is a handy one, and surprisingly little known!

Last weekend I was on the road and stayed with a friend. I realized I hadn’t brought along my cell phone charger, but not to worry! Since the majority of phones use a Micro USB cable these days, I found a spare cable of just such size, connected one end to my cell phone and plugged the other end in to one of the USB ports on the front of my buddy’s Xbox 360. Just a few seconds later, even with the console off, the charging indicator light on my cell phone lit up! Crisis averted. Hopefully this one helps you out, some day.

The $8 billion iPod

I’ve been to a TedX conference in Rochester, NY. TED usually brightens my life with brilliance and hilarity, in almost even doses. I saw Rob Reid, the speaker in the video below, on TWiT.TV’s Triangulation I knew I had to post one of the things he spoke about. He described his TED Talk, “The 8 billion dollar iPod” as “a very playful look on the insanity of copyright laws” (if I recall his quote correctly, I didn’t go back and listen to the Rob Reid episode #55 of Triangulation since I had heard it live).

E3 2012: NOT a let down

Was this a disappointing year for E3? Over the last several years, E3 has tried to return to its rightful place as reigning champion of video game conventions, and although PAX has stolen some of their thunder, E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) has done a very good job of revitalizing what they began.

This year was lacking the big shock of new console announcements. It wasn’t just a rumor, it wasn’t “we have it on good authority” – it was a known commodity that Nintendo’s WiiU would be talked about, because it had already been announced. But rather than give us a ship date or price, rather than tease us with something we’ve been wanting for over a decade (Killer Instinct 3, anyone?), we got some cute mini-games and a sneak pack of a Wii U dressed in black. The Sony conference plugged a new God of War, talked at lenth about WonderBook, then rang the death knell for the PS Vita by not announcing a price cut. Microsoft impressed a few people with Halo 4’s story intensive trailer, and at least they didn’t announce a new product to compete with the 3DS or the PS Vita. Microsoft had the coolest “previously unannounced” (although leaked) item in the presentation, SmartGlass. SmartGlass is an enhanced offering of the Xbox Companion App for Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8.

So, no, it wasn’t amazing or jaw dropping… but, there are some exciting things happening in all three camps. I’m not a huge fan of Wonderbook, but the idea can be expanded upon and will find a niche – it may even encourage some people who dislike reading to get more interested in the written word, in the same way that e-books have ignited interest among young tech enthusiasts. No, it wasn’t the most exciting year for E3, but I’m confident that it wasn’t even in the top ten when it comes to “the worst.” I’m fairly pleased with what we’ve got to look forward to, and if you’re not, then I encourage you to go back and re-watch some of the pressers(Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft) and pick something out to enjoy – it’s not all bad news!