11 February 2007

Apostle of Hustle / The National Anthem of Nowhere / Arts & Crafts [2007]

Four Stars

Choice cuts: National Anthem of Nowhere, Justine Beckoning, Jimmy Scott is the Answer

Andrew Whiteman, guitarist for Toronto indie-superpower Broken Social Scene, moonlights as the heart and soul behind a more intimate affair.

Whiteman creates a world of movement through foot-tapping anthems while he aggressively sells his fascination with Latin music through tinges of influence in words and rhythm. National Anthem of Nowhere's thick atmosphere forges toward innovation with an exemplary indie-rock/Latin music hybrid.

Stylish and elegant, Whiteman guides the album with smooth, accessible vocals and intricate guitar stylings. Refinement and intelligence come through in enlightened references to jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott, folk-singer Víctor Jara, and Socrates, avoiding pretension and remaining topical as in the wry condemnation "Socrates is poisoning our youth". Eclectic percussion shepherds the album with a grooving flow, and forays into Spanish language vocals captivate instead of alienate due to Whiteman's subtle swagger, allowing listeners to feel the words without fluent proficiency. Spanish poet Federico García Lorca's prose is transformed into lyrics in "¡Ráfaga!", as complex guitar and mesmerizing drums result in enchanting originality.

Dense layering allows for slick hooks, and ideal pacing provides ethereal qualities realized in walking bass-lines, rich keyboards, and cerebral lyrics. The bouncing drum machine in "Jimmy Scott is the Answer" and feel-good brass of the title track exemplify experimentation through fluent incorporation, never appearing contrived. National Anthem of Nowhere's remarkable idiosyncrasies in instrumentation, wordplay and tone refuse adherence to any rules of belonging. Instead, as expressed through its epithet, Apostle of Hustle favors the in-between and undefinable.

Here's a link to the published version

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