By Bryan Kerwin
So, in 2001 Andrew Whiteman, guitarist for a little band you may have heard of called Broken Social Scene, spends two months living with relatives in Cuba. He comes back with a hankering to combine some sensuous Latin grooves with the straight-ahead rock and roll of his other bands in the Toronto scene. Thus, the world is given Apostle of Hustle, and it is good.
On the band’s sophomore album, both of these influences are apparent, but don’t be fooled into thinking of it as some poorly conceived bastardization of two distinct genres. Whiteman manages to assimilate the varying sounds of the record into a tightly cohesive whole, creating an album that is at once sleek and unpredictable. The Latin influence is most apparent in the pulsing rhythms of songs like “The Naked and Alone” and the Spanish language “Rafafa,” where elsewhere the band gives over to driving indie guitar pop a la BSS. Standouts here include the shiny melancholy of the title track, and the superiorly infectious “Chances Are,” which is like listening to that Len song plus musical ability and minus the guilt/shame.
Where “The Scene’s” last album tended to sound cluttered and crowded, Apostle of Hustle manages to filter its sonic experimentation through some stellar production, resulting in songs where you can actually hear everything, but still have a ragged life to them. Whiteman’s impeccable ear for melodies both slurry and spry helps out too. With all the high-profile releases from Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, et. al. surrounding it, National Anthem of Nowhere is probably going to get lost in the shuffle, but it’s just as worth the listen.