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Northern Hustle: Forgether

Forgether review, Northern Hustle review, Northern Hustle album review, album review, debut album, Phoenix music, Arizona music, Phoenix bandsNorthern Hustle– Forgether

Released: Sept. 6
Our Rating: 5/5
Spec Recs:  “Homestead,” “Weak Mouth,” “Ghosts”
In One Word: Captivating

The first time I heard Northern Hustle’s name was through a friend. “Have you checked these guys out?” “No, I had never heard of them.” He pulled up a video from YouTube of them performing a house show. I was impressed with the simplicity and sheer raw factor of the band. Sure, they’re simple, but they sound like more than the average acoustic band. They’ve got percussive ornamentation, vocal chants, captivating instrumental melodies, and the bells & whistles (literally and figuratively) that make you stop what you’re doing and say “YES,” after listening to just a few seconds of the music.

The first track is simple: Two acoustic guitars finger-picking two melodies that bounce off of each other with a tambourine and a set of drumsticks clicking on a floor tom, ornamenting the melody. This leads into a group chant of “ba-da-da-da” with a few hoots and hollers thrown into the mix. You may recognize the second track “Homestead” from hearing it on KWSS occasionally. The glockenspiel reminds me of the sounds you would hear around your home: wind chimes on the porch, the doorbell, the telephone, etc.

The third track, “Empty Notes,” is beautiful and haunting. The second half is a round of the lyrics: “Oh God, did we ever belong? / Oh God, did we ever find a home?”  This is a feeling we have all probably felt before but never really heard in modern-day lyrics. “Empty Notes” flows right into “Tangled,” the fourth track, which moves into track five, “Weak Mouth,” without even a hiccup or a hint of separate tracks.

My favorite track on the album is “Weak Mouth.” It’s seven minutes of sheer sympathy and heartache, but it’s the beautiful kind that makes you want the writer to win. The only way to express my interest in the song is to show you the lyrics:

Your hands were clasped, your head was down, and my thoughts couldn’t keep up with my mouth / What was once an extension of my hand now feels like foreign land / And this old vessel may not have what it takes to break the waves, and reach you / I just want to talk but I’m afraid to make the move // As David said, “They’ll be burning up the charts and breaking young girls’ hearts” / And the same broken heart that wrote this song will break every time it’s sung / So if it’s okay with you, I’d rather not be praised for singing my mistakes / Because I can write a song, I can keep it all in tune. But I can’t talk to you like I want to // (speak) // And I was standing in the doorway hoping you’d asked me to stay / My heart, my soul, leaves me engulfed and I cannot hold the flame / I cannot speak a single word that I can still be proud of when I don’t think that I deserve you, but I want to try to // Speak it out, don’t hold in your thoughts / It’s not enough when they can’t be caught / You cannot pass them in fear / For Christ’s sake, just sing it here 

Ghosts” is a nice change of pace—and change of key—as it is almost like a breath of fresh air. Joining the percussion family on this track is a ride cymbal making subtle waves, which adds a little mystery to the track.

If you were to throw Local Natives, old-school The Format, and Sam Beam’s finger-picking swagger into a blender, you would get one delicious smoothie called Northern Hustle. So sit back, dim the lights, and take a sip of this album, because it’s refreshing and will leave you wanting more once it’s finished.

Northern Hustle is debuting its album live twice this weekend:

  • Friday, Sept. 6 at Long Wong’s Tempe with Owl & Penny, There Is Danger, Christian Lee Hutson and Playboy Manbaby (21+ / FREE)
  • Saturday, Sept. 7 at Fort Wanderlust in Tempe with The Balcony Scene, Where Are All the Buffalo?, Dylan Pratt and Christian Lee Hutson (all ages / $5)

More of Northern Hustle on The Spec:

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