Apostle of Hustle

National Anthem of Nowhere (Arts&Crafts)

Apostle of Hustle's sophomore release doesn't have the folkloric feel of its 2004 predecessor, Folkloric Feel. Heh, heh. Frontman Andrew Whiteman's affinity for Caribbean drums and Cuban guitar flourish is still thoroughly present, though it's decidedly less predominant. Any one of the resulting 12 fuzzy, often spacey, indie-rock folk songs would not be out of place as, say, manipulatively sentimental background music on Grey's Anatomy. Certain songs leave a yawn-inducing aftertaste, like some kind of Spacehog-and-Rusted Root milkshake.

The album's opener, "My Sword Hand's Anger," rolls in on robotic gulps and tight percussive accents, shuffles through a few peppy breaks, then dissolves into creepy jungle breathing, kinda like in Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf." "Haul Away" sounds like Tom Waits and Coldplay dicking around with Pro Tools. The album's titular track, aside from giving excuse to use the word "titular," is otherwise just a straight ahead, quiet verse/loud chorus rocker that escalates with an exultant horn section.

Whiteman's whisper-and-wail method, which he employs with mechanical abandon, gets the Jeff Buckley comparison quite a bit. But it's only because he sounds a lot like a guy trying to sing like Jeff Buckley. It's not all bad, though. Songs such as "Rafaga!," "Fast Pony for Visitor Jara" and "A Rent Boy Goes Down" are engaging and entertaining songs, heavily seasoned with those aforementioned international flavors, and they don't sound as self-conscious about radio airplay accessibility as the rest of the record.

 
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