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The Dear Hunter - Act I: The Lake South,... Album Cover

The Dear Hunter - Act I: The Lake South,...

Reviewed by
8.8
The Dear Hunter - Act I: The Lake South, the River North EP
Release Date: 9/26/06
Record Label: Triple Crown

In general, it is never welcome news to read that a pillar member of a band has split from his cohorts. Thus, earlier in the year when Casey Crescenzo diverged from The Receiving End of Sirens, it left two huge musical questions dangling. What would become now of TREOS without Casey - in other words, how much of a contributor was he to the overall collective? Perhaps just as important (and relevant here, at least) was the question concerning Crescenzo's musical future outside of his former band.

Luckily for his fans, Casey seemed to be almost uncomfortable with the premise of idle time. While recording Between the Heart and the Synapse with TREOS, he was writing and dreaming up ideas and themes for his then-to-be side project, The Dear Hunter, which has now obviously become his primary focus. With demos circulating and gossip buzz accumulating about a multi-chapter concept work, the project certainly sounded ambitious. The only question remaining - is it any good? The answer is an unwavering “yes.” The Dear Hunter's Act I: The Lake South, the River North is an epic exercise in majestic composition and is handily the most complete EP you can purchase this year.

From the naissance of "Battesimo del Fuoco" (Baptism by Fire in Italian) and its haunting manifold vocal arrangements (not another instrument to be heard), it is apparent that the approach to songwriting adopted by The Dear Hunter is more akin to something altogether operatic as opposed to your standard punk or alternative rock fare, such as that seen with TREOS. The following instrumental track, the Peter and the Wolf-ish "The Lake South" only furthers this sentiment, while it serves as a hypnotic segue into the frantic "City Escape" with its Tim Burton-esque vocal breaks and eerie piano interlude.

The spirit of imagination, though, is not in short supply here and does not prematurely run dry as with TDH's contemporaries. Case in point, "The Inquiry of Ms. Terri" wanders off on an intriguing jam tangent that is far less masturbatory than the hazy shredding synonymous with The Mars Volta. Similarly, "1878" delicately presents a pensive, airy guitarscape to construct a mythical atmosphere that is only elevated by the welcome cameo of Dan Nigro (As Tall As Lions). Here, though, the crashing choruses seem a little out of place and disrupt the ethereal continuity of the track. The track is still quite slick, however, and is another high point in a work focusing on variation, as it gives way to "The Pimp and the Priest" with its playful old time jazz influences. And finally, in terms of vocal tracks at least, ""His Hands Matched His Tongue" humbly offers up a stockade of unexpected beauty. Minimalist instrumentation and a somber, emotional vocal performance stirs the heart of the listener - something that seems understandably confounding from this former "hard" rocker.

As a whole, you will simply not find a more complete and cohesive work in EP form this year, if not in years to come. At just under forty minutes long, Act I is a meaty, fleshed-out epic that really sounds like a soundtrack to its own story than it serves as a traditional form of musical expression. The arrangements are so thoughtfully construed and the components so epically composed that the work as a whole is really quite transcendent of the genres the EP is most likely to be lumped into. If the concepts at work here were not engaging enough, then perhaps the guest list will reel you in. Crescenzo’s brother, father, and mother are all featured in some musical capacity on the record, the guys from Monty Are I lend their horns, and as mentioned earlier, ATAL’s Nigro even croons alongside Casey. Not a bad roster indeed, which only goes to show the idea and execution of this band expanding into something altogether grand. If you can appreciate the ambition shown on works like Thrice's Vheissu that aim to sway the stature of music back towards its roots as an art form, you would do well to give The Dear Hunter a chance. Don’t be surprised, then, to find yourself impatiently anticipating the upcoming LP.


Recommended if you like: The Receiving End of Sirens, The Sound of Animals Fighting, Kaddisfly, Chiodos, Portugal the Man, The Mars Volta, Facing New York, Thrice
This review is a user submitted review from Steve Henderson. You can see all of Steve Henderson's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 52
10:13 AM on 10/24/06
#2
bitterhalo
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i was super excited about this because the demos that leaked were AMAZING. this album didn't really do it for me. it was really fun and creative, but it had no lasting value, i got bored with it after a week. but good review nonetheless.
10:25 AM on 10/24/06
#3
a speedo model
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This is a great album. Good review, man.
10:26 AM on 10/24/06
#4
Steve Henderson
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i was super excited about this because the demos that leaked were AMAZING. this album didn't really do it for me. it was really fun and creative, but it had no lasting value, i got bored with it after a week. but good review nonetheless.
Honestly? I have been spinning it for 3 weeks, and still like it. It actually took me a week before I really "got it" to begin with. Maybe the LP will jive with you more, though.
10:58 AM on 10/24/06
#5
whitsavestheday
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the vocals deserve a 10 in my opinion.
i haven't heard anything this great vocally since bjork put out medulla.
11:29 AM on 10/24/06
#6
neo506
thy foes profanely rage
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the vocals deserve a 10 in my opinion.
i haven't heard anything this great vocally since bjork put out medulla.
hahaha


good one
12:09 PM on 10/24/06
#7
J to the Osh
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was there ever a statement released as to why he left the band?
12:12 PM on 10/24/06
#8
Steve Henderson
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was there ever a statement released as to why he left the band?

I don't have the link now, but there was a good interview with Casey at drivenfaroff.com s google that.
12:15 PM on 10/24/06
#9
Drew Beringer
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Not a fan of this album.
12:15 PM on 10/24/06
InaGreendase
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So is Triple Crown really selling this as an EP? I mean, it's over a half-hour long.

Does that mean the LP is pretty much going to max out the CD's capacity?
12:22 PM on 10/24/06
IcedOpethBlind
Houston Sports.
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this ep is awesome.
quality rating and review, steve.
12:39 PM on 10/24/06
fifpb99
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I love this CD. Picked it up the other day and upon first listen didnt get it at first. Now I do and love it.
12:46 PM on 10/24/06
Steve Henderson
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Not a fan of this album.

How do you like Senses Fail and The Killers but not this?
12:48 PM on 10/24/06
Steve Henderson
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So is Triple Crown really selling this as an EP? I mean, it's over a half-hour long.

Does that mean the LP is pretty much going to max out the CD's capacity?

Both the Triple Crown and TDH sites refer to this as an EP, so yes, I can only imagine that the LP will be bursting at the seams.

Do you dig this release?
12:50 PM on 10/24/06
weworemasks
save the drama for wilmer valderama
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How do you like Senses Fail and The Killers but not this?

that doesn't really correlate.

but the new senses fail is the musical equivalent of jamming scissors up your ass.


and this has to be one of the best EP's i've heard in a looooong time.

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