New American Hustle – Destination Go-Go

 New American Hustle – Destination Go-Go

New American Hustle – Destination Go-Go – Album Review

Ballsy…I dig it.

I mean…I kinda figured I would after reading about the formation of New American Hustle and had a look at the listed influences…all-in-all, it’s got all the ingredients that tend to appeal to me.  I won’t give it all away, but to sum it up for ya, New American Hustle is a virtually-based band (which we love), contains the story of the comeback to music-scene from main member Ian Smith (which we also love), and then there’s a list of names like Beck, Portishead, QOTSA & more that went on to further confirm just how much I was probably going to enjoy listening to this new record called Destination Go-Go.

Even when factoring all that in…pushing play on this album kept bringing back that first word of this review to my mind – this IS ballsy.  How many records out there can you think of where the first impression, the initial track, the gateway IN…accounts for approximately 1/5th of the total experience overall?  Keep in mind, it does depend on where you’re choosing to listen to this record from – I’m going from the set-list at Spotify – and if you were to listen from Bandcamp, you’d find a completely different lineup & flow to this album altogether, with “I’ll Be Fucking Drunk Today” appearing more predictably at the end of the album where you’d assume you’d find it.  I have no clue as to how these double lineups tend to happen, or what the ‘official’ lineup actually IS…but what I can tell ya is, after a thorough listen, the Spotify lineup was the preferred structure for me personally.  I’ll put it to ya this way…if/when you DO tend to find a ten-minute-plus-long tune on an album that doesn’t simply contain five other tracks of the same length, you’ll likely find it right at the end…track seven at BEST.  The reason for that being…well…mainly it’s US…it’s actually what’s known about our attention span and lack thereof that keeps most artists/bands from flexing serious length, innovation, and creativity before they’ve had a chance to break you in with something SAFE instead.  But not New American Hustle for some reason…somehow this project decided to willingly color outside of the lines and break just about every rule on its way into the scene by adding “I’ll Be Fucking Drunk Today” as the opening track on the Spotify version of Destination Go-Go.  Make no mistake, that’s a move that takes genuine cojones.  But if you’re a fan of projects like Gorillaz, Portishead, DJ Shadow, Sneaker Pimps…something like “I’ll Be Fucking Drunk Today” should be just as up your avenue as it was mine – I highly dig vibes like these, I’m not remotely scared or intimidated by the ten-plus-minutes in length; I’m much more like, ‘bring on more of what I’m loving’ than likely to run away.  Especially when things sound as authentically interesting & engaging as what’s happening here on the first cut from New American Hustle’s DEBUT record…

…or that is…ONE of their debut records?  Slight departure for a really fun fact…wanna know something cool?  New American Hustle has ALREADY put out an additional THREE albums and TWO more EPs in 2020 as well…everything seems like it came out around the same time more or less.  Not trying to put any pressure on the rest of you artists/bands out there…but I’m just curious…how’s your quarantine going?  Doing anything special with all that free time you’ve got?  Just asking, no real reason…*ahem.

But where there could very well be more than a few people out there that’ll balk at the prospect of hanging with a ten-minute-plus tune at the beginning of a record, chances are if they push play they’ll feel differently once they’ve had a chance to sink their teeth into this innovative first dose of what New American Hustle is capable of and any complaints will cease once the groove of “I’ll Be Fucking Drunk Today” kicks into full gear.  And besides all that to begin with, I can vouch firsthand that there are more than enough people out there with taste similar to mine that are going to fucking love what they hear right off the drop without hesitation.  If you’re asking this guy right here typing all this out…and it appears that someone somewhere out there must have…I’d be inclined to tell ya that the insatiably rad grooves that run throughout “I’ll Be Fucking Drunk Today” set the standards & it won’t drop from there.

Though I do think it was a really smart move to have such brighter-vibes come right after “I’ll Be Fucking Drunk Today” in the switch into the album’s title-track to follow.  Call it appeasement if you wanna, but it’s a good call to have given the average everyday listener a chance to make another attempt at climbing onto this bandwagon before it takes off completely, with what’s inarguably a more accessible track for the masses.  Does that make it BETTER?  No!  That’s not what I said – pay attention.  I said more accessible is all…you might like it better than the opening cut, you might not…six or one-half dozen of the other as far as I’m concerned.  They’re completely different cuts…so depending on your own personal taste and what resonates most with you in sound/style, you might dig “Destination Go-Go” more than the opening track and it might become the gateway into this whole album for ya – you won’t find me complaining or bitching about your conclusion if that’s how you feel.  One way or the other, New American Hustle has given this record the opportunity to reach a very widespread bunch of ears out there across this globe…and I think that, with its highly inviting vocals and poetic lyricism accompanying such a dreamlike set of floating vibes & hazy structure, “Destination Go-Go” is capable of reaching a whole audience that the first track likely wouldn’t.  More Rock-based for sure at its most intense, but it’s not just the amped-up energy that accomplishes all this…”Destination Go-Go” rides the fringe of the fringe, giving most listeners out there more than enough to grasp onto, while still providing an insane amount of diversity & versatility within this one experience to keep the rest of us engaged.

Not that it wasn’t implied from the get-go of Destination Go-Go, but you’ll certainly start to appreciate just how truly diverse & different this record is by the time you hit track three if you haven’t already.  “Rum & Coca” combines Spoken Word, Experimental, vibrant Pop inclinations, a touch of Psychedelic tendencies…and all-out enticing sound from the lefts to the rights presented in the most anti-typical ways your ears can imagine.  For real – if you didn’t think the structure of “Rum & Coca” was already impressive to begin with, wait until moments like the random break/solo just prior to the two-minute mark…or even the main hooks for that matter…basically, even time New American Hustle transitions into a different part of the song, this project reveals a fully unique moment from the last, ever-changing.  You couldn’t predict the flow & design of a song like “Rum & Coca” if your life depended on it – and that kind of genuine uniqueness is so massively hard to come by, that your ears can’t help but appreciate the sound of something as inventive like this when they hear it…assuming you can keep up, of course.  I love the balance that exists here in something so clearly artistic & different…and in my opinion, I couldn’t tell ya what I loved more between the killer Spoken Word/Hip-Hop bars, the bass-line grooves and inspired spark of creativity in the music, or the absolutely gorgeous vocals of the song’s main hook – everything stacked up to a solid win on “Rum & Coca” and provides an Inception-esque track-within-a-track-within-a-track like feel to it that continually flexes multidimensional sounds & spectacular ideas the entire time.

Real credit to Ian for finding such amazing talent to work with on Destination Go-Go; clearly he’s got the music locked-down from his end, but he’s also done an exceptional job of finding guest-stars to handle the mic with confidence, tone, and real authority.  Like, LISTEN to how professional everyone is in the thick of “Flexxx For You” and how spot-on such a diverse song comes out sounding as a result!  Jaw-dropping stuff really…the Rap bars are perfect for the modern-day vibes, the main Pop-inspired hooks of the chorus explode with expression & bold tone…you can’t take your ears off of creativity like this, and nor would you wanna.  Listen to the mix will ya?  On the music!  On the vocals!  You couldn’t ask for more from New American Hustle when it comes to production, performance, execution, and straight-up innovative ideas at work – and songs like “Flexxx For You” completely prove this all to be true.  Almost finding their way into a Zero 7-like smoothness at first, with similarly sweet & soulful vocals leading the way as “Flexxx For You” starts out – as has become tradition on this record, expect New American Hustle to continually switch it up and create truly hybrid audio entertainment for ya that roams from genre to genre, style to style, with impressive ease & super slick flow.  Eventually, you flex & finesse your way right into wildly energetic & intense bars, in amongst stellar vocal melodies to be found in the chorus…no joke y’all, you kinda get to tour the map all over the place to different aspects of music that you know & love, all strung together perfectly on “Flexxx For You” with those entirely addictive bass-line grooves.  To look at many of these ideas on paper would make you scratch your head in wonder, considering whether or not these songs could even work in theory – and yet when you hear this all come together and transition so flawlessly between sounds & styles on a song like “Flexxx For You,” you really have to appreciate the foresight it would take to make a record like this and the courage you’d have to possess to go after it all with such commitment & audible conviction.  It’d make for a perfect single to put out there with a killer vid to be the gateway into this record for people I tell ya.  Oh!  Hey!  Would ya looky here…

“16 Hours On Cocaine.”  Only?  New American Hustle – you know there’s still eight more hours in a day right?  What gives?  Sleep is just a myth we created for complacency anyhow.  Alright, alright, alright…I’ll come clean…I’ve done a lot of shit in my day, but hittin’ the white powder wasn’t part of my diet so much as tiny little pieces of paper tended to be…so “16 Hours On Cocaine” is approximately at least 12 hours longer than I’ve ever personally spent scaling Scarface’s mountain.  Again, I think that versatility & diversity is what’s leading this record to such a decisive victory here…you just don’t hear too many tunes like “16 Hours On Cocaine” out there, you feel me?  That exceptional degree of uniqueness plays such a significant role, track after track, when it comes to listening to Destination Go-Go…the more open your door is to new sounds & ideas, the more you’ll be mesmerized by the stunning level of imagination at work in this lineup of songs.  Do I expect the ol’ Top-Forty/mainstream crowd to crack right into “16 Hours Of Cocaine” and ‘get’ it?  Hellllllllllllll no!  Who would be that insane?  I guarantee Ian of New American Hustle understands that already and couldn’t care less…if you do ‘get’ what he’s gettin’ at here with the music on this record, I’m sure there’s plenty of room on the bandwagon for you to have a seat; and if you don’t, please kindly find your way off of said bandwagon so that the rest of us can sit down will ya?  Call it Alternative Hip-Hop if ya wanna…call it Trip-Hop if you’re savvy to what’s actually happening in the music of New American Hustle…call it whatever ya like if you wanna – but we can all agree the record scratches added into “16 Hours Of Cocaine” & the vocals are both 100% amazing right?

I mean…if there were ‘issues’ you know I’d let you in on what’s up.  The facts are that a record like Destination Go-Go really just boils down to your own adventurous nature & curiosity when it comes to listening to music, and if you actually have those qualities driving your playlists.  On a technical level, you’re not going to find fault in the production or performance…which in itself is a noteworthy accomplishment for an early record in any band or project’s career, even with a skilled mechanic & veteran returning to the scene like we’ve got in Ian.  Then when you factor in all the OTHER music that’s been made by New American Hustle in such a short timeframe (during quarantine essentially, which admittedly, FEELS like a lifetime) – it’s quite astounding just how much of an impression & impact that this project could potentially make when you factor in all that’s going on.  For real – check out the social media pages, hell, check Google images even – you’ll see an onslaught of visual awesomeness in the form of like, poster-style ads for different songs & singles…the point is that New American Hustle is putting in the WORK and even making sure the artwork is as bulletproof as the music is.  “On The Brink” is another solid example of this project at its most professionally controlled cool.  Sure it’s got a ton of wild elements & contributing aspects to the mix that make everything stand out in extremely dynamic ways – like LISTEN to the quick switch in sound around the 3:45 mark before the snap straight back into another set of badass bars of confident Hip-Hop laced with supreme character & personality your ears will NOTICE…everything stacks up piece by piece, however big or however small, and there is simply no wasted space to be found.  From the bass-line grooves, to the energy the electro-aspect brings to “On The Brink,” right to the microphone and the precision you’ll find there – this track has several layers that in the hands of another artist, band, or project, could have become all-out chaotic to listen to.  Ian’s got this whole record right in-line…it might be the craziest line you’ll walk this year from point-A to point-B – but when you really examine these songs at their cores, you’ll find it’s all been mapped out perfectly.

I’m absolutely loving the rhythm section on “Show Isn’t Over” – which almost seems unfair to mention first considering how amazing the vocals on this cut come out, or the high-quality of the production overall.  There is…hmm…not really much I can do about that really, a sentence has gotta start somewhere, and there are several stars of this show when it comes to this tune.  I’d imagine the soulful sound of the vocals are likely to be what has people paying the most attention at first – she’s got gorgeous technique & tone that you can’t help but listen closely to.  “Show Isn’t Over” also comes out swinging with a beautiful vibe that quickly switches into frantic madness…but again, all with the remarkable combination of precision & professional control that makes it everything actually WORK.  “Show Isn’t Over” is a bit looser than the rest in some regards…but at the end of the day, with such defined parts of the song showing up recognizably time after time, it’s also more structured as well; it’s hard to explain, I know, I know…you kinda just gotta hear the music of New American Hustle to really get it dear readers, dear friends…that’s just how it is.  I can tell ya this element of the mix or that aspect of the music is freakin’ fantastic all day long…or how impressive the vocals continually are – because all that’s genuinely true and completely the case when it comes to New American Hustle – but it’s also fair to say that there aren’t any words I can theoretically write that would justify the uniqueness you’ll hear.

Tracks like “Mad Little Girl” are going to be a challenge for people outside of whatever genre they’d perceive New American Hustle to fit into…it can be demanding stuff to listen to for those out there that are used to the comfort of hooks they can easily find & sing along with – but for the rest of us out there – isn’t innovation like this exactly what we’re looking for?  For myself personally, I’d put “Mad Little Girl” right up there with the best of the best that you’ll find on Destination Go-Go for its intricacies and depth – and as far as the overall idea & execution, as loose as it may feel at times, you also get a ton in the mix to experience.  It’s less of a tangible structure than perhaps many people are used to when they’re listening to music…almost like “Mad Little Girl” exists in a couple dimensions at once…but again, I’m always going to argue on behalf of something I’ve never heard before…and what New American Hustle is doing on this cut – and has been throughout the vast majority of this record – is truly new to us all.  A record like Destination Go-Go is as much entertaining as it is valid proof that there is indeed, so much to still be explored when it comes to making music out there.  You can get close to putting New American Hustle in some sort of genre or box…but nothing would quite cover what this project is fully capable of.

“Aphrodite’s Sandals” uses words perhaps even more sparingly than the vast majority of these songs do, but once again finds a way to make the most of’em whenever they appear.  The bulk of this album’s shortest song at just over three-minutes in length is spent in a gripping instrumental vibe that flexes a fantastic selection of enticing & mysterious sound that’s fully designed to pull you right in to listen.  And I believe…if I’m not entirely mistaken…this is the final track on Destination Go-Go…though I could be wrong about that.  At Spotify, there’s evidence of a tenth song called “Zero Gravity/Zero Fucks” that isn’t playable…but it does seem to exist and has a stamp of six-minutes & fifty-eight seconds tagged to it.  So!  I don’t wanna say quote me on this…but you never know…even though there are only nine tracks also available on the Bandcamp version of Destination Go-Go…you’re also able to hide bonus tunes that come along with the official purchase as opposed to just streaming the record…you might just end up with more than nine cuts if you get yourself a copy of this record…I’m not 100% sure, but I have the feeling that just might be the case.  In any event…ending it on “Aphrodite’s Sandals” was a solid move in my opinion…again, this all depends on where you’re tuning-in from, but on the Spotify version, this made for the perfect finale in my opinion, with some of the best character & charisma on display in the music and a brilliant use of the vocals that raised the stakes just that 10% more before it was all over.

What I can certainly tell ya is this…no matter which version of the record you end up listening to or how the songs might end up flowing out of your speakers – there’s nothing but engaging sounds pouring out from the lefts & rights on Destination Go-Go.  Definitely my kind of jams and I love that pretty much everything I heard & experienced on this record proved that New American Hustle has the genuine talent & perspective it takes to be that all-important step ahead of the rest out there.  In many ways, it feels like you’re listening to the future of music on this record, even as it borrows happily from genres & styles you’re familiar with – there’s something about this whole approach that New American Hustle has taken to Destination Go-Go and how unafraid this project is to follow its wildest ideas, that will lead them to the success they deserve.  People dig commitment in the music they listen to – this record has it in spades…and it’s as much of an adventure into the heart of uniqueness as you’ll likely hear this year.

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