By: Meghan Kearney
As a superfan of the Portland music scene, this has personally been one of my most anticipated releases of the past few months. Hustle & Drone have become a Portland staple, playing shows around the city and beyond, melting cheeks off with bass thumping synth tracks and neon light panels to play along. When they’ve not been shooting hoops with the Portland Trail Blazers or forefronting the very rad Red Bull Sound Select up and coming artist cohort, they’ve been molding their distinct and electro-powerhouse debut full length Holyland.
You may know the name of front man Ryan Neighbors, and if someone tells you about Hustle & Drone, they’ve probably told you where you should know him from. We’ve decided not to follow suit, as Holyland is a piece that proves no street cred needed; Hustle & Drone is a project of its own. The record opens with the title track, an honest reflection of growing up holy. It offers an easy transition into the record as it slowly breaks into eerie electronic sounds that highlight what Hustle & Drone is all about.
An initial stand out (and undeniably catchy) track is “Bhikshu.” This track, written about a pup, is easily underwritten with existential metaphors. Here, synthy bass mixes with Neighbors’ silvery vocals as a subtle guitar adds to addictive qualities of the track.
“The Glow” is a track that showcases multiple levels of signature Hustle & Drone goodness. The chorus is powerfully harmonized, while layers upon layers of synth switch between backing and fronting the piece. What this track best offers, is an idea of what it feels like to be at a live Hustle & Drone show (and they are definitely a band who fully brings it on stage).
Throughout the record, themes cleverly touch on the idea of holiness in an uncertain, rebellious fashion. There seems to be a struggle at play between one’s beliefs and motivations, maybe even as good or evil. There are even bits of sound that feel like Sunday service turned electronic demons (ala the electric organ vibes on the closing track “Calling”). Overall, Holyland is a record not to be missed. It’s in ways a piece of grungy electronic excellence from start to finish and assures Hustle & Drone are soon to be a household name.