I wonder if Apostle of Hustle have ever had trouble breathing, if they've ever felt the slow build up to an asthma attack. Their breathy vocals, raspy guitars and overall foggy atmosphere lead me to believe that they know exactly how it feels to be short of breath, and to top it off, they've even got the heart-beating rhythm down to carry the feeling along.
On their sophomore effort, The National Anthem Of Nowhere, the boys of AoH have taken giant leaps through melody and structure to give us what could be twelve of the best tracks of the new year.
Opening the album and winning you over right away are "My Sword Hand's Anger" and "National Anthem Of Nowhere," two tracks that so easily run together aesthetically, that there seems no need for pause in between. Here also, is displayed a sense of upbeat melody that seemed to be missing from their first effort, inviting you into the record. If the album were to be split into hours of the day, these first two tracks would be an awakening in early spring, shaking off a chill with a soft ray of light (see also "Cheap Like Sebastian" and "Chances Are").
There is another side to The National Anthem... however, and it's a little darker. This comes as a result of Andrew Whiteman's indulgence in Latin music, picked up while spending time in Havana. In tracks like "Fast Pony For Victor Jara" and "Â¡Rafaga!," AoH showcases with flare an intense need to soundtrack a Robert Rodriguez film. "Haul Away" does a good job of using the Cuban sound to the album's advantage, but "Justine, Beckoning" is probably the best display of fusion on the record. However, it may also be the least-best moment on the album (I hate to use "worst" here).
Lyrically speaking, perhaps the best surprise may be "A Rent Boy Goes Down," which does well in combining many flavors. In the beginning we're treated to a beat-driven spell, with eerie lyrics laid out in harmony, and just as you start to crave change, a simple acoustic fills the void and a story unfolds. Just as men like Van Morrison and Don McLean have done before him, Whiteman weaves tales with melodic glee. He has a leg-up though, as Socrates will forever be cooler than Chevy's and/or Levee's.
With the large shadow (literally and figuratively speaking) that Broken Social Scene casts upon its members, it's a wonder any one of them have managed in their solo endeavors; but with The National Anthem Of Nowhere Andrew Whiteman and crew are on the edge. In fusing styles and melodies together, Apostle Of Hustle have continued making a name for Canada and breathed new life into the scene by putting out one of the best original releases this year. Please check it out.