Andrew Whiteman, lead singer of the Apostle of Hustle, proudly proclaims “music is my pimp.” The band’s sophomore album, National Anthem of Nowhere, certainly whores itself out to a frenzied collection of music styles, turning tricks that aim to unite “everyone who feels they have no voice or can’t be heard.” Band members Julian Brown, Dean Stone and Bryden Baird first found their indie flavor after Whiteman’s two-month retreat in Havana, Cuba, leading to the combination of experimental rock and Latin influence of AOH’s first album, Folkloric Feel. AOH’s collective music approach is definitely influenced by Whiteman’s position as the guitarist for Broken Social Scene. With National Anthem of Nowhere, AOH broadens their eclecticism, gearing themselves towards a BSS audience while remaining somewhat genuine to their international roots.
The album’s crowd favorite is sure to be the CD’s first track, “My Sword Hand’s Anger,” which provides a beautiful composition of feedback infused guitar riffs, galloping percussions and simple yet melodious vocals that work miraculously on this track and display the Whiteman’s production genius. “National Anthem of Nowhere,” the album’s self-titled track, certainly provides just that, as the song cannot quite grasp any one place or feeling. Its dull lyrics achieve no power among the clutter and confusion of instruments, although the song certainly showcases the band’s easygoing and free-flowing nature. Vocals, however, remain a constant problem throughout the album. Genuine, but far from outstanding, Whiteman’s forgettable voice falls like an anvil into his envisioned nowhere-land.
This is not to say that many of the albums tracks don’t kick ass. My personal favorite, “Rafaga!,” a Latin-rock version of a Federico Garc°a Lorca poem, perfectly expresses the band’s enticing Buena Vista Social Club sensationalism that would surely cause Ibrahim Ferrer (bless his soul) to shake his hips. “A Rent Boy Goes Down” is the album’s pop-folk wunderkind. With a lyricism comparable to that of Paul Simon, a foot-stomping beat and a sentimental melody, the song flows through you like a breeze, as though you were eating a snow cone on a hot summer day. Otherwise, “Fast Pony for Victor Jara” and “NoNoNo” are the only other standouts on the album, as they remain close to those infectious Latin rhythms that birthed the band.
Certainly, this album and the attempted journey it takes you on will grow on you with each new listen, but unfortunately for the Apostle of Hustle, much of their audience will not make it that far. The album will leave them lost in nowhere, searching for some sort of significance. Listeners can only hope the Apostle of Hustle remain close to those Cuban roots which inspired them to create in the first place. If they don’t, they will fall deep into the nothingness that has become the fate of so many indie-folk bands of today.