This is a first. I’ve never chosen a song of the week by popular demand. That being said, after about the seventh message I got requesting that Northern Hustle get a slot for the song of the week, I decided, what the hell? Why not? I dig the hell out of those guys anyway, so it’s not like I was going out of my way to do so. I also usually write these in anticipation of an upcoming show, but they just had a gig a few hours ago and I’m not seeing one coming up until the album release show for There Is Danger’s debut on August 1st at Crescent Ballroom. A month or so ago, maybe more, it was Trevor Hedges of Sundressed that alerted me to this unusual duo and sent me to their bandcamp site to check out their tracks, which I instantly enjoyed. Only a few days later it was requested I promote their Kickstarter campaign to print and distribute their debut album, which I did happily. The amazing thing about their Kickstarter campaign is that they reached their goal within three days!!! Drew Dunlap commented on this: “We released two singles from our album two weeks ago and they’ve already had radio play here locally and internationally on Nevis Radio in the UK. We started our kickstarter shortly after the release of our singles and surpassed our original goal within the first three days of our project.” That’s a hell of a start for a band’s debut.
In a very short time Northern Hustle’s debut Forgether has become one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year and apparently the eagerness to hear it in its entirety is not solely confined to the perimeter of this sun scorched valley. With the two teaser tracks released in June (“Homestead” and “Tangled”) it seemed like overnight everyone was talking to me about them or I heard them mentioned everywhere I went. It’s not difficult to hear why. Northern Hustle is the creation of Drew Dunlap and Jonathan Malfabon and while their released recordings feature Jake Arrington and Gabby Booth, their live show now includes Bradley Kleeman and Max Barrezueata. As their Facebook description says, “Jon met Drew, they courted, they birthed a northern hustle. Like all relationships, the chemistry started lacking a few months in so, they added outsiders to spice it up.” So it goes.
“Homestead” is the single getting airplay on at least two continents and the song I chose this week for two reasons: 1) It’s awesome and 2) Running at 3:42 it is actually two minutes longer that “Tangled.” It occurs to me in listening to the song over and over again, that I’ve spent a lot of time with much more “beautiful music” in 2013 than any other previous year, more to the point I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the “indie-folk” side of Arizona sounds than ever before. Maybe that kind of sound is just what is coming to the forefront of our community, maybe that’s what is capturing listeners ears and imaginations more this year, but whatever it is, while it may not be rock’n’roll, it’s still pretty brilliant. “Homestead” is a shining example of this, indie-folk without alt.country leanings or neo-hippie pretentions—it’s just damn good music to chill out to and get lost in. First of all, I’m a sucker for percussion and the opening alone wins me over, add the acoustic guitar and quirky vocals and I’m sold, when Booth’s harmonies come in around the minute and a half mark I get chills and I’ve bought into the whole damn thing. When “Homestead” explodes in the last minute with a choir of “badadadadadadada’s” it turns to pure gold and you can understand why this is getting airplay in the UK. A perfect song, a perfect single in sound and construction and it stands as lyrically outstanding. Clearly the introspective study of one’s own soul and motives in light of the generous amount of advice and guidance that everyone or society in general is ever so willing to give. The earlier questions, the big questions of life are asked “Where is my soul? What makes us whole?” but the final verse is the true telling of the singer and the song, “When I figure out I’m lost, Will I know which road I’m on? Or where it came from…And if I do, Will my truth be in the move?” The perfect song to serve as a soundtrack for a sunrise as seen through your kitchen window while you question the meaning of life, which has been what I’ve been doing as I write this. Truly beautiful.
While Northern Hustle may have reached their Kickstarter goal within the first three days, it’s still an active campaign and as the funds grow further toward their project, they keep unlocking more surprises and rewards. The first reward that was unlocked was a hand written thank you letter to all of their backers and a Nothern Hustle button; the second ensured a Northern Hustle sticker would be included with each of the products shipped; the third ensured that they would produce a video for “Homestead” and invite any of the Kickstarter contributors to be featured should they choose to participate. The fourth goal, which is just within reach, places all Kickstarter contributors on the guest list for their release shows and invites to the after swim party/BBQ destined to take place. Now first of all, this was one of the most fun Kickstarter campaigns I’ve ever seen in reference to the initial rewards, but this puts it over the top (though $400 to rearrange Jon or Drew’s faces was pretty impressive). You can click on the link below to contribute further to these burgeoning artists remarkable campaign.
This is my homestead, lonely in this region
As I’m hoping to start it up again
Hope is a funny thing, she speaks,
But hope’s never talked to me
This is all I do, hold it in, breathe deep
I never would have told you I had a name
When I can’t remember it, I no longer know me
Nor my sound I’ve been hounded, who made this law?
As it really helps sometimes to ask…
Where is my soul? What makes us whole?
Where I go I don’t want to be called
Because if it happens I’ve been told
That where I go my life should be,
As water on the moat
When I figure out I’m lost
Will I know which road I’m on?
Or where it came from…
And if I do,
Will my truth be in the move?