Reviews:: Apostle of Hustle National Anthem of Nowhere

It is easy to see why the Broken Social Scene is so popular. They write great songs and they definitely mesh well, but I honestly believe that the end result is actually less than parts that create it. When you look at the work of the individual members you start to realize how many diverse styles they actually use and how the solo work is simply amazing. From Feist’s (excuse the previous typo) jazzy soul to Jason Collett’s rootsy style, it’s obvious how different and talented each member of this crew really is. The latest member to blow me away is Andrew Whiteman.

Andrew records under the impossibly cool moniker, Apostle of Hustle and like every member of BSS, he brings something completely unique to the mix. His new album – National Anthem of Nowhere – is a mix of smooth guitar jams, rock solid drums, Latin/Spanish acoustic rhythms, mood setting instrumentation, and pretty well anything else you can think of.

The record opens with the jam friendly acoustic and drum intro of My Sword Hand’s Anger before gradually unfolding into a series of musical peaks of valleys. He mixes in big fuzzy bass notes, sighs, yelps and double tracked vocals to create this lo-fi masterpiece. The album jumps into the title track which is the big hitter. Instantly catchy, this loner anthem is sure to be making the rounds (if it hasn’t already). Ironically, a song about feeling like there is no where to call home is focused and never wavers. Even though he throws in layer after layer (like the big guitar solo that plays off in the distance, but never interferes with the melody), the mix is never cluttered. The straight ahead style suits him well, as Haley Joel Osmond might be seeing you if you don't sing along with the chorus.

It’s hard to review this record, as it’s certainly one that takes a number of listens to digest fully. Songs that are down-tempo (nonono) aren't as accessible, but that doesn't mean I won't get into them the more times I listen. There’s too much happening on this release to really feel comfortable with it so soon (and that’s said as a compliment). It’s the type of record that rewards the listener who sticks with it.

Andrew tends to shy away from any set style, and instead dabbles in many at the same time – like the bluesy/trip-hop combination he manages to pull off on Haul Away or how he throws in an infectious guitar halfway through the casiotone influenced simplicity of Cheap Like Sebastien. He is able to slide into these styles without making the record seem disjointed. On Chances Are, he throws in a radio friendly track that should stand out like a sore thumb, but instead simply shows another wrinkle in his repertoire.

The whole record focuses on the underlying Spanish/Cubin influence of his roots (for example, the guitar work and percussion on Fast Pony for Victor Jara). Much like the part time BSS contributor(and Shane’s friend) K-OS, he can merge international sounds without drifting into an experimental realm or seeming dated. This is probably because as soon as you start hearing these sounds, he changes back and delivers something like the power pop song Justine, beckoning. He's able to merge style perfectly, like the handclaps/punkish guitar riff of irafaga! that are interlaced with Spanish vocals to create a modern flamenco track that you can’t not dance to.

This record is well worth a listen, but really its worth lots of them.
MP3:: National Anthem of Nowhere

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