CD Review: Apostle of Hustle's "National Anthem of Nowhere"; See Them At SXSW
Apostle of Hustle is the brainchild of Andrew Whiteman, member of the Toronto ensemble, Broken Social Scene. National Anthem of Nowhere follows 2004's respected Folkloric Feel. The three core members, Whiteman, Dean Stone, and Julian Brown, are joined by Justin McWilliams and Daniel Stone and several other guests and the resulting rambling record has the kind of expanded sound one might expect with so many additional helpers.
The album opens with "My Sword Hand's Anger" which has the dissonant drive of some of Pavement's best tunes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Whiteman, who is the musician's musician, isn't afraid to use electronics in his work and this first song has electronic embellishments that Whiteman seasons several of the other eleven songs on this record. Another thing I liked about this record is the fact that Whiteman uses horns (sax, trombone) on several songs, including the title track - bringing brass back to rock n' roll is a good good thing.
Generally these songs are pleasing, the musicianship is excellent, and the lyrics pretty good, see "The Naked And Alone" and "Justine, Beckoning" for standout examples. I just felt that the more straight-ahead rock n' roll tunes could have used some more extremes: the vocals could have been more ragged or plaintive, or, for godssake, cut loose with a guitar solo - really rip one out. Whiteman is reserved and in control and if that's something you go for, then this is the record for you as subtlety is probably wasted on me.
Two examples that take us into more liberated territory are "Rafaga!" and "Fast Pony For Victor Jara" - both done in Spanish, which seems to have freed up both the lyric structure as well as the music. Whiteman is obviously not afraid of experimentation - National Anthem of Nowhere is a collection of fearless efforts, and I'm hopeful that Apostle's next effort will feature less restraint and studied expressiveness. Perhaps some sloppiness is on order Andrew, we will forgive you for it.
My understanding is that Apostle of Hustle does a great live show. If you are at or are going to SXSW you will have several chances to see them:
3/14/07 Emo’s Jr 5:20pm
3/15/07 Red Eyed Fly 2:00pm
3/16/07 The Mohawk 2:00pm
3/16/07 Habana Calle 6 Annex 12:00pm
3/17/07 Hotel San Jose 8:00pm