When a sprawling group of friends named Broken Social Scene released their breakthrough album You Forgot it in People in 2002 the music world went a bit crazy. An absurd amount of praise, expectations and sloppy performances followed the band everywhere they went until their inevitably disappointing follow up. Often overlooked in this hipster maelstrom is the abundance of bands who emerged from BSS’s sizeable wake. One of these acts was the Andrew Whiteman-fronted Apostle of Hustle, whose 2004 debut, Folkloric Feel, was an occasionally brilliant, often mediocre, fusion of Cuban rhythms and American indie-rock.
Well, now it’s 2007 and Apostle of Hustle has re-emerged with their sophomore effort, National Anthem of Nowhere. From the first few moments of the album opener, “My Sword Hand’s Anger,” the band makes it clear they’ve grown a lot in the years between releases. Where much of Folkloric Feel felt awkward, “My Sword Hand’s Anger” and the following three songs ooze confidence. On these four songs, Apostle of Hustle demonstrate an undeniably sexy groove, as they expertly mix elements of Latin music with typical North American rock instrumentation.
After opening on such a stunningly strong foot, the rest of the album is understandably uneven. Whiteman and company are at their best when they strike a comfortable middle ground between familiar indie rock conventions and world music experimentation. When they lean too heavily to either side though, the album suffers. “Chances Are” sounds like a BSS castaway, while the band’s former clumsiness briefly returns on the heavily Latin-influenced “A Fast Pony for Victor Jara.”
Even with these occasional blunders, the album is a unique, shambolic delight. The nowhere this album crafts national anthems for would certainly be an intriguing tourist destination.