The Dear Hunter
Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading


5.0
classic

Review

by Bitstream USER (21 Reviews)
March 1st, 2009 | 275 replies | 40,039 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A modern rock opera tapping into different genres to create a mix of beauty, storytelling, and creativity.

10 of 12 thought this review was well written

I always get some kind of Déj* vu when I hear “Ex-TREOS” member. The Receiving End of Sirens had enough members to have their own NBA team, but that’s beside the point. While I think TREOS in itself is a good band, The Dear Hunter shows they could have been much, much more. This review has taken me a few days to write, and over the course of it, I have realized many things about this album you might not if you give it just a brief listen. Notably, this is extraordinary.

This is a mix of energy, beauty, passion, and craftsmanship. What started as a one man side project of Casey, evolved into a full time touring act. The second full length, recorded with Luke Dent of the split band ‘Faraway’, Erick Serna, Luke’s brother Sam Serna on drums, and Ericks long-time friend Josh Rheault to play bass. The CD is perfectly gapless, and is the second of six acts in a story created by Casey. The story fits seamlessly with the music, and that is part of the reason this “Rock Opera” is so unique.

To fully understand the scope and beauty of this album, we must take a step back to the story of the album itself. If you do not wish to read all this, simply skip past the next section.

The “Act II” you see means it is the second act of a six part story. In each CD is an act, and each adds to the story of a young boy, referred to only as “The Dear Hunter”. The story follows the boy’s life, from his birth to his untimely and unfortunate death. I can kill two birds with one stone by going over each track. Each song is so finely twined with the story, that if you sit and listen, you can see the whole story unfolding in your mind.

ACT ONE: This CD gives the first part of the story, and without it, the second act won’t make sense. In a nutshell, the boy is born to a prostitute mother, “Ms. Terri”. She is severely beaten and escapes the city to “The Lake and the River”. Years pass as she raises the boy, and you find out that his father is unknown, a product of Ms. Terri’s poor choice in jobs. Now, we can move on to the songs in Act II.

“The Death and the Berth” – A nice little instrumental track. It’s almost cinematic. Horns, cymbals, violin, the works. Story wise, it signifies Ms. Terri has passed away.
? / 5

“The Procession” – Picks up right away to a very fast and upbeat track with some cool electronic effects, and it shows off their unique sound. It switches genres fairly fast, and you can’t help but appreciate their appreciation of music, by showing off all their different sounds. Here, Casey is also introduced on vocals. The song is very well done, and ends spontaneously with tribal drums. In the story, the boy has heard about his mother’s death and watches the funeral. He starts to head home, but instead passes it.
5 / 5

“The Lake and the River” – Starts off with an interesting rhythm of uncommon instruments. The song is also very cinematic. There are many backing vocals in a choir-like fashion, and the song flows excellently between different moods. Some of the aggression of TREOS songs starts to come through, but the band proves they can really stand out here. It is a very long song, but they don’t abuse the length. In the story, the boy decides to learn more of his mothers past, and steals a train ticket to the city, mentioned in act one.
5 / 5

“The Oracles on the Delphi Express” – Has a nice jazzy upbeat feel the whole time. The singer uses his voice very effectively, as he layers it just right to sound like he’s a choir. This fits perfectly, as the song is the “oracles” on the train telling the boy his future is grim if he goes to the city. It ends up sounding like a group of people are talking to him. “Stick with us, throw your morals out the door / You aren't in the land of the river and the lake no more / Makeshift schemes, we've got plenty here for you / Lock away your dreams and throw away the key.
4/5

“The Church and the Dime” – The boy has arrived in the city, and everything is not what it seems. The church doubles as a brothel! Musically, this is a good song, but doesn’t stand out as much. Driven strongly by piano and drums, an interesting feature of the song is the line, “Faster, save me. Harder, I can’t…” which is the same line as the song “Pimp and the Priest” from act one. This is a great example how connected the story and music are, as “Pimp and the Priest” is set in the same brothel / holy place of worship. Dandy.
3 / 5

“The Bitter Suite I and II: Meeting Ms. Leading and Through the Dime” – This song is a fairly straightforward ballad, building up to an anticlimactic halt, then bursting out into a high energy section you’ve come to expect this far into the album. Even though the songs have similar jazzy upbeat parts, you won’t be disappointed with how they always seem to deliver. The boy steps out of the train and meets a deceptively pretty girl named “Ms. Leading” (Clever, no?) This song shows off a good feature of the story to music connection, as Ms. Leading flirts with the boy and leads him to her “room” in the Dime. The dime is the brothel part of the “Church and Dime” by night. As she leads him, to his excitement, the music picks up. If you learn the story, you will notice the interconnectedness of it all time and time again.
3.5 / 5

“The Bitter Suite III: Embrace”: A very ballad-y song. Definitely not a highlight song, as the backing vocals in it can take away from the sound. The story in this one is pretty simple. They copulate. If you are unaware what this word means, go get a dictionary, because I’m not sure how much I can get away with in a review.
3 / 5

“Smiling Swine”: My favorite song on this album. Very upbeat and has a great groove to it. The vocals here really stand out, for example, there most of the song has an ambient chorus in the back ground giving acapella beat and rhythm. There is also what I can only describe as “Dueling vocals”, where the singers voice is overlapping vocal lines with himself. Great stand out song. The story is the boy leaves, and realizes he is in love with the woman, Ms. Leading.
5 / 5

“Evicted”: Another of my favorite songs. What starts as a piano ballad picks up into a high energy fun song. Ms. Leading realizes she is in love with the boy as the happiness and mood of the song also picks up. Even by this song, the incredible difference of this band from others will still have you hooked. They’re not a one trick horse.
5 / 5

“Blood of the Rose”: This song is primarily driven by strings. This is an excellent change of pace in music, even when the band is so unique. There is no fancy guitar, drums, or bass. Just strings, vocals, and some horns. They use simplicity much to their advantage. It’s not forced or awkward sounding, it just fits. This song shows the boy in love with the girl, so he sneaks back into the dime to see her when… Tragedy strikes!
4.5 / 5

“Red Hands”: The boy catches Ms. Leading with another man! Great vibe through this song. It definitely conveys the rushing emotions with someone’s first heartbreak. The man is a superb lyricist with one flaw. He likes to abuse big words that the average listener might not understand first time around. Like the Thesaurus addicted diploma exam writer, sometimes words seem forced. But apart from that flaw, he is a wondrous writer.

“Was it bitter when you tossed and turned
on an undercover mattress?
Did it feel so good? Hope it felt so good.
Don't know what I'd do if you lost sleep over little old me.
He's so much better.
They're all much better.
Take off your sweater, your shoes, and your shirt, and get to work.”
3.5 / 5

“Where the Road Parts”: This song is somewhat slower, but keeps many of the dynamics you’ve come to expect, like choirs, strings, and piano. This is a powerful song on the CD, describing how Ms. Leading writes to the boy, trying to convince him to meet her where they first met. He decides not to show. The song really conveys the frustration felt by Ms. Leading, and in that, illustrates the magic behind this album.
4 / 5

“Dear Ms. Leading”: Here is another letter from Ms. Leading trying to explain to the Boy that she loves him. They write letters back and forth, and the music seems to change between the letters, a great dynamic. The singing changes with what he’s trying to convey, for example, the boy is singing with an arrogant sort of feel as he is shunning her, and Ms. Leading is singing with a sort of plea. The song is an excellent, with nice little things like violin parts to spice it up and keep up the expectations for what sounds they will dapple into next.
4 / 5

“Black Sandy Beaches”: Somehow, the letters shared between the characters have reached the Lake and the River, where a narrator reads them. This shows how deep this story can go. It ties up loose ends and describes the story through an outside character’s eyes.

Oh how she cries from vicarious love from the one he writes about
She must have been so glad for him to throw it out
Further steps lead to yet another broken bottle
Again the words contained have bled the page
Whose tears were these which ran the ink
From who they'd pour to make this streak?

This song is another slow one, but goes through all the genre switches and crescendo’s you’d expect. A great way to start the beginning of the end.
4 / 5

“Vital Vessel Vindicates”: The song keeps a steady piano beat through the whole thing, rising and falling as you’d expect a CD like this to end. The song is especially notable for the end; a long orchestra piece. It makes you wonder how much experience this man has with music. It’s quite surprising what happens when you think all this existed in one mans head. After the orchestral part, a small piano bridge which fades into the sounds of the sea and a final boarding call for a ship. The boy realizes he has no further need for the city, having learned all he needed to, and having hurt for his efforts. He decides to leave. The final lyrics can give you flashbacks to earlier parts of the songs, which to the boy, are earlier memories from Act I. A clever detail, and it adds depth to the album concept. Another example of how excellently crafter this album is.

Sing softly sing me to the lake – Ending from “Pimp and the Priest”
Sing softly bring me to the lake – Ending from “Pimp and the Priest”
Through all of this I've felt just the same
The flame is gone the fire remains – Ending from “Battesimo del Fuoco”
5 / 5

Welcome back, impatient readers! From here, I will finish with some details to round this off.

There are CD’s that you just put in because they sound nice. There are CD’s that are great for the car, great for parties, great to just listen to. But there are also CD’s that take you somewhere totally different, and this album is like a fantasy novel that takes you into a totally different world. You can read the lyrics if you wish, find the story on the internet. There is even a novel coming out that’s based off this album. All I ask is that you take this CD for what it is, a journey. Through sound, dynamics, music, life, emotion, and beauty. This band, most importantly Casey has taken music and sound, and weaved it into a story. A story that makes you feel. And what else can you ask for in music but something that makes you feel every ounce of passion that went into it?



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Bitstream
February 23rd 2009



296 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is a painfully long and extremely personal review. Please, listen to the album first. There's no way to describe this. Listen to a few songs off their myspace at the least.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2009



17200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

didnt there used to be a staff review for this that tore it a new asshole?

botb
February 24th 2009



9560 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yes idk where it went. but in all honesty this is soooo good. it's a work of art

KritikalMotion
February 24th 2009



2261 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Enjoyed Treos a lot more, (bthats)....this is just long and boring.This Message Edited On 02.24.09

Bitstream
February 24th 2009



296 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, it's long, and not everyones cup 'o tea. But it is a work of art. The positives waaaayyyyy outweigh the negatives. I wanted to give it a 4.5, but listening to everything and finding the meanings behind the songs brought it up to classic. It's some really amazing music, if you can sit through it. They can somehow go through this whole album without it ever sounding really repetitive. It can drag on at parts, yes, but again, to understand the rating, this isn't a "Pop in the car" CD. It's still fun to listen to, however.

Mendigo
February 24th 2009



2299 Comments


first act was much cooler tbh. this is nevertheless a great album and I'm looking forward to some new stuff.

plane
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2009



6085 Comments


really lame album but i still have "red hands" saved
guilty pleasure is guilty

AtavanHalen
February 24th 2009



17927 Comments


I never got Act II. Act I was amazing.
Was this the end of the story?

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2009



17200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nah. act III comes out sometime this year.

AtavanHalen
February 24th 2009



17927 Comments


Woot.

kodiaknoises
February 24th 2009



17 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

giving any emo album 5 stars is questionable, and giving this album 5 stars is downright retarded

Bitstream
February 24th 2009



296 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

...This is emo?

gaslightanthem
February 24th 2009



5209 Comments


giving any emo album 5 stars is questionable, and giving this album 5 stars is downright retarded

clearly have no idea what emo music really is as this is most definitely not emo.

kodiaknoises
February 24th 2009



17 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Okay yeah sure, a band that came from TREOS (one the worst bands to ever come out of my state), tours with bands like saves the day, is signed to Triple Crown records, has lyrics such as, "Again the words contained have bled the page. Whose tears were these which ran the ink", isn't emo. haha okay. they also classify themselves as "post-hardcore"...isn't there another term for that? Horrible, melodramatic, homogeneous music trying way too hard to sound intelligent with faux-concept album titles like Act 1 & 2.

& Gaslightanthem: you clearly have no idea what good music is if you're defending this album.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2009



17200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

im sick of having to do this.... kodiaknoises, emo is not pop punk and pop punk is not emo. Circle Takes The Square, Saetia and the Funeral Diner =/= Saves the Day, Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday.
now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

gaslightanthem
February 24th 2009



5209 Comments


I'm not defending this album at all - I've only heard the one song. I'm just saying this isn't emo; nor are saves the day and neither does post-hardcore doesn't equate to emo. Real emo music has nothing in common with bands like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Saves The Day and others which get lumped in that category by people such as yourself.
Real emo is Circle Takes the Square, Funeral Diner, Pg.99, early Trophy Scars, Saetia, Orchid etc etc. Check out those bands then come back and tell me this is remotely similar to anything that can be considered 'emo'.

gaslightanthem
February 24th 2009



5209 Comments


lol redskyformiles

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2009



17200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

its like you read my mind.

kodiaknoises
February 24th 2009



17 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

dashboard confessional isn't any closer to saves the day than circle takes the square is, Zissou. Are you saying that circle takes the square is pop punk? did you even think about what you just wrote before you wrote it? You're attempting to be an authority of the roots of emo and you can't even mention Rites of Spring or Texas is the Reason?

You're also focusing on the wrong part of this argument, the debate about what emo is, when the real point is that whether you're trying to label this album "indie" or "prog rock" or wtf ever, however you spin it, it's bloody awful, and adds absolutely nothing to this world

Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2009



17200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

uh, you misconstrued me massively.
Dashboard, Saves the Day = Pop Punk.
Saetia, Circle Takes The Square = Emo.

and this is neither.
gah.This Message Edited On 02.24.09This Message Edited On 02.24.09



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