Review Summary: The Dear Hunter releases a B-side to Migrant with more strong, memorable tracks
Casey Crescenzo must really want to test the dedication of his fans.
He announced (with the creepiest of stares http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcQ_QVhKw7s) that a limited edition 7-inch box set with songs that didn't end up on the upcoming Migrant release. Many fans missed out on this opportunity, but just in case you missed it, The Dear Hunter will include the box set with an 85 dollar Migrant Bundle. This is partly crazy, but I'm not here to review bundles.
Migrant has been generally positively reviewed by critics, particularly the first half of the record, which contained powerful and memorable tunes such as, well, all of them. "Whisper" and "An Escape" stand out songs, and the orchestration on "Shame" showed off Casey's arranging power. Unfortunately, about half of the people who listened to the record thought it kind of faded off towards the second half, with the exception of "Let Go". Many were put off by the slower songs packing the end of the album. I believe that The Dear Hunter did this on purpose to help solidify the feel of the album, because a B-side as damn good as The Migrations Annex indicates that songwriting wasn't the problem.
The opener, "Dig Your Own Grave", rocks with the feel of the Red EP. The chorus of this song just screams Dear Hunter and the verses keep you locked in with seductive grooves. "Middle Ground" absolutely blew me away. The brass section making periodic appearances is full of swagger, and the track always keeps you on your toes with sudden dynamic shifts. The arrangement on this track sets a high bar. "Like Crazy" is laid back, more towards the sound of Migrant. The background vocalist coo behind Casey, the orchestrated bridge flows smoothly, and the female vocalist on the second verse really brings a special sound to this song. "Old Demons" definitely brings back the feel of Act II. Crescenzo's vocal performance over the bluesy organ chords are nothing short of grand. "Owls" touches on Blue EP roots, but the guitar's create a powerful, albeit calm, atmosphere. The final track, "The Love", sounds like a song that genuinely should have made it onto Migrant after "Don't Look Back". Casey sings the lyrics from the heart, building and building in vocal intensity until the end, when a chorus of background vocals fades into the final orchestral movement.
These songs build on The Dear Hunter's long history and bring new elements to the table, but I understand the decision to release them as a B-side. Aside from "The Love", none of the other songs really matched the feel of Migrant. Even though they didn't fit, they make for great and memorable tunes that I will no doubt be playing on repeat for the next 6 months.