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National Anthem of Nowhere

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Album Review

Despite the steady presence of Latin percussion, tres, and Spanish poetry, there is little Latin about Apostle of Hustle's second album, National Anthem of Nowhere. None of the bolero-inspired songs from Folkloric Feel shuffle between the circling guitar lines and pounding drums that control and comprise the record. The experimental side to Andrew Whitehead and his crew remains, however, as they discard notions of cleanly cut verses and choruses and concentrate more on overall effect and tone. Actually, the songs that wander a bit within the layered electric guitars lines, that are darker and more menacing, and that play with trip-hop and post-rock arrangements — whose drums (both organic and programmed) echo solidly off the vocals and the churning bass — work better than the songs in which Apostle of Hustle stick more closely to traditional structure and poppy chords. The dramatic title track swirls and moves at a good pace, and manages to keep a kind of three-piece-band feel despite all of the instruments used, while the electronics of "NoNoNo," coupled with whining strings and an acoustic guitar, are ghostly and haunting in their simplicity, and "Cheap Like Sebastien" works well with its juxtaposition of male and female vocals with its playful melody. Unfortunately, the times the band steps into more lighthearted — at least musically — territory are not nearly as successful. The Federico Garcia Lorca poem "¡Rafaga!" does nothing but bang around hard-edged electric guitars uninspiringly, while "Chances Are" surges into a near-'90s radio rock arrangement and is, while not bad, not very interesting, especially in comparison to the more sparse, angular phrasing Apostle of Hustle show themselves to be capable of. There are moments of greatness here — the aforementioned "National Anthem of Nowhere," the flamenco-meets-el charro-meets-Ani DiFranco of "A Fast Pony for Victor Jara," the reverbed rhythm vocals on "Haul Away" — but the album doesn't quite hold itself up consistently as a whole entity. Its imperfections make it stutter instead of enunciate clearly all it can do, all it has done, and distract from the statement it truly wants to convey.


Formed: 2001 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Andrew Whiteman created the atmospheric post-rock/experimental sound of Apostle of Hustle in 2001. Whiteman returned to his native Toronto to resume writing and recording with Broken Social Scene after a two-month stay with his godmother's family in Cuba. He learned to play the tres, a Cuban guitar, during that time. But in the midst of making the Juno Award-winning You Forgot It in People album, Whiteman couldn't escape the Spanish musical flavors of his time spent in El Barrio Santo Suarez. In...
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National Anthem of Nowhere, Apostle of Hustle
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