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Hustle & Drone Announce New Album 'What An Uproar'

This October Portland-based band Hustle And Drone will release their new album What An Uproar. Today, the band released the first single "Stranger" from the forthcoming release. The track premiered at PopMatters and can also be shared at Spotify. About the song, PopMatters says, "With crystal-clear lyrics, an infectious chorus and production that recalls the Top 40 glory of Howard Jones, Thomas Dolby, and others of their kind, 'Stranger' brings together progressive music with pop in a way that's insulting neither to the heart nor the intellect. We should be more than lucky to have Hustle and Drone around for years to come, making these sophisticated and alluring sounds."Hustle And Drone's Ryan Neighbors adds, "'Stranger' is the product if toying around with and reversing some mellotron sounds and loops. The big influence on the drums was going for an 80's Phil Collins vibe. The lyrical content eludes to filling your voids with so much noise and busyness. Avoiding the issues that are painful for you until you eventually start to become somebody else. It gets you to a place that you no longer recognize who you are anymore. You're more or less sharing your body and headspace with this other personality that is starting to take over."

In 2014, Ryan Neighbors was in the midst of redefining his artistic focus. Having bid adieu to his post as keyboardist for Portugal. The Man not long before, there were expectations to ignore, and a new musical identity to carve out with his electro-pop project, Hustle and Drone. With the release ofHolyland, the band made an immediate impact in the Pacific Northwest, holding court in major venues and selling them out, as well as touring Europe. Once the dust settled, the band returned to woodshedding beats and synth sounds, confident of a competent follow-up.

The process that followed, however, was anything but easy. Writing and recording 25 songs over a two-year period, Neighbors and fellow hustler/droner Andy Black established a promising songwriting partnership, eventually flying their producer, Sonny DiPerri (who'd worked on Holyland, as well as records by Animal Collective, The Drums, and My Bloody Valentine, among others) to Portland to dig into what they'd accomplished. The response wasn't what either songwriter was prepared to hear.

The band started over from scratch, learning new synths, softwares, and digging into new sample libraries. The tough love DiPerri dispensed on Hustle and Drone began to yield a darkly cathartic collection of songs, which after more polishing and refining, would eventually become What An Uproar. The hard work and change in work ethic is immediately evident on the band's sophomore offering, which they finished up in the remote town of Talkeetna, Alaska. The solitude of the small town contributed heavily to the focus with which the band took on the finishing touches of the record.

What An Uproar seems to battle itself from song to song, the combination of introspective lyricism from Neighbors, and a veil of moodier, bleaker electronic pop that recalls Joy Division, vintage Nine Inch Nails or The Faint than it does other electro-forward artists.

Album opener "Dark Star" reflects the gloom accurately, subdued synth beats anchoring a minor-keyed melody, Neighbors singing, "There's a nightmare inside my head.../There's a dark wall inside my head.../I'm fading away." It was the first song that came together for the band after the artistic redesign, and served as blueprint for the tone of the rest of the songs on What An Uproar.

"Uproar isn't as accessible to the average listener as Holyland, but it is the record we wanted to make, and it is a true expression of where we are as artists," declares Neighbors.

"Never Sleep Alone" bookends the record with a heartbreaking farewell to a lost love, Neighbors' baring his lyrical soul in a synth-lite ballad that exposes a key component to the recording process for DiPerri: disallowing Neighbors to hide behind elaborate double-vocal takes. DiPerri stressed the power of being able to "hear the pain," in the vocals, as he put it. Boy do you ever hear it. "Chambers" offers something of a sonic palate cleanser and a clear demarcation line from the first half of the record to the second, as a meandering solo piano vignette hisses like a ghost from a groove in a gramophone platter. When the clouds clear, a trance-y beat introduces.

In the end, What An Uproar is a maelstrom of an synth-pop brooder, and served its purpose as artistic relief for the band. More than that, it's destined to emerge as a fateful companion for others facing the void and deciding, even after some hesitation, to hit it head on.

What An Uproar Track Listing

1. Dark Star

2. Stranger

3. Shadow Fly

4. God Daughter

5. Stuck Inside of the Rain

6. Fame

7. Chambers

8. Raw As The Sun

9. Borrowed Time

10. What An Uproar

11. Never Sleep Alone

Photo Credit: Natasha Fagan / Additional Artwork by Julia Soboleva

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