Must Hear Music
Reviews Archives
Bargain Basement
Music DVD
Send Us Mail
Contact Us

The Dear Hunter
Act II: The Meaning Of And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading
Triple Crown Records

The Dear Hunter's full length debut album Act II: The Meaning Of And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading is the follow up to the Boston based rock quartet's debut EP Act I: The Lake South The River North. Like Act I, Act II has a rock opera frame where each track is descriptive of a scene that forms a complete story when all the songs are strung together. In this case, the story is about a boy whose lust guides him to a bordello where he is beguiled by the charms of Ms. Leading. The story's themes reflect on the decay of innocence and trust, and the outcome is a deep sense of disillusionment impaled by hate. The music is emblematic of modern rock syntheses with entangling guitar riffs ribbed by elements of country-folk shadings from the banjo performed by Phil Crescenzo, classic harp inlays played by Krysten Keehes, and chamber-jazz threads of the french horn and trumpet plotted by Jason Belcher. The instrument parts are melodically bolted and all are visceral to building intensity and suspense in the story.

Produced, engineered and mixed by the band's lead singer, songwriter and creator Casey Crescenzo, Act II is imaginative, heady and emotional. The chord shifts dimple and thorn the movements making curves in the tempos while Crescenzo's vocals clench and soar across the melodic folds. His vocal rises enhance the intensity and trajectory of the oblique chords implanting episodes of resonance and retraction. The songs are in a constant state of flux with rousing transitions and melodic phrases that ease the flow of the changes like in the song "The Bitter Suite" which has 3 parts - "Meeting Ms. Leading", "Through The Dime", and "Embrace". The melody begins as a soulful piano and vocal broth that trails into a Fosse-style choreography of prancing jazz piano, horns and vocals. The music builds into vibrant top hat splashes and a series of teased guitar flourishes that bulk up and recede periodically and then trickle down to a soulful vocal and piano interlude. The instruments and vocal choreography are complex and make the song manifold and multi-textured holding the listener's attention.

The four members of The Dear Hunter are multi-instrumentalist Casey Crescenzo, guitarist Erick Serna, keyboardist Luke Dent, and his brother and drummer Sam Dent who also plays the glockenspiel, timpani and tubular bells. The band incorporates sections of string arrangements by violinist Matt Tobin and cellists Philip Wolf and Brandon Brooks who add billowing effects and orchestral tones on tracks like "The Death And The Berth," "Blood Of The Rose," and "Vital Vessle Vindicates." Slices of classical piano and lava-rapt vocals modem the finessed tempo changes on tracks like "Smiling Swine" and "The Procession." The chord progressions and vocal exchanges are gripping as they provide intensity and suspense in the music's choreography particularly on the track "The Oracles On The Delphi Express." The glockenspiel chimes on "The Lake And The River" give the song a sunny vista along the vicissitudes which thicken and release planting crimps along the movements and creating a dialogue in the country-soul mix of acoustic guitars and jamboree of percussive stomps.

Crescenzo wrote all the lyrics for the songs and "The Lake And The River" illustrates the album's main theme of disillusionment as Crescenzo professes, "You'll believe what you are led to believe/In the hands of ghosts we're never responsible/ Wait to see what you're meant to see/ The veil lifts when you expose your soul/ Pray'd I would leave this place someday…Begging my God to make the wheels go round/ Eat so much but I never get full/ Earth opened up and swallow you whole." Crescenzo uses symbolism to portray human behavior like a philosopher. The lyrics can be applied to anyone's life, not just the boy in the story who is beguiled by a prostitute, because prostitution is symbolic of that factor in life which causes disillusionment. It can be found in politics, sports, entertainment, anything that involves human interaction even dealing with parents. Act II leaves the listener feeling hopeful that not every life experience will result in a corrosion of faith when the album concludes with the sounds of the open sea, it's like a portal to fresh air.

The Dear Hunter's latest release Act II: The Meaning Of And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading, is a modern rock alloy that coalesces teased guitar riffs with orchestral implements, jazz incisions, classical filigrees, and country broods. The vacillating intervals and bends in the melodies are choreographed to contour the vocal steps. Artistically and intellectually, the album reaches a challenging level of excellence. The songs travel into each other so none of them stand above the others. Like a rock opera, all the tracks are integrally linked to each other and the album has greater appreciation as a whole. The Dear Hunter's propensity to create musical sagas is still a vital spark in the band's impetus and creativity. The band has the capability to translate these sagas to an audience like only veritably seasoned musicians can achieve.

-Susan Frances

Track Listing:
1. The Death And The Berth
2. The Procession
3. The Lake And The River
4. The Oracles On The Delphi Express
5. The Church And The Dime
6. The Bitter Suite (Meeting Ms. Leading and Through The Dime)
7. The Bitter Suite (Embrace)
8. Smiling Swine
9. Evicted
10. Blood Of The Rose
11. Red Hands
12. Where The Road Parts
13. Dear Ms. Leading
14. Black Sandy Beaches
15. Vital Vessle Vindicates

Check out more reviews

Talk Back
e-mail the chief

Like this article?
e-mail it to a friend!


Mike Doughty

none now

South By Southwest 2014
David DeVoe

South By Southwest 2013
David DeVoe

Red Hook Music Festival
George Dow

SXSW 2012
David DeVoe

Our Favorite Records 2011
Hybrid Staff

Rachel Fredrickson

Rachel Fredrickson

Warped Tour 2011
Rachel Fredrickson

Eddie Spaghetti
Melissa Skrbic-Huss

Murder By Death
Mike DeLeo

Mike Doughty
Boulder, CO

Denver, CO

Imagine Dragons
Denver, CO

Cambridge, MA

Young Magic
Denver, CO

Warped Tour 2012
Denver, CO

Denver, CO

Mike Doughty
Denver, CO

Kansas City, MO

Other Lives
Lawrence, KS

Los Campesinos
Boston, MA

The Civil Wars
Lawrence, KS

Ha Ha Tonka
Lawrence, KS

Lawrence, KS

hybridmagazine.com is updated daily except when it isn't.
New film reviews are posted every week like faulty clockwork.
Wanna write for hybrid? Send us an e-mail.
© 1996-2009 [noun] digital media. All rights reserved worldwide. All content on hybridmagazine.com and levelheadedmusic.com is the intellectual property of Hybrid Magazine and its respective creators. No part of hybridmagazine.com or levelheadedmusic.com may be reproduced in any format without expressed written permission. For complete masthead and physical mailing address, Click Here.