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09.09.16 Top 50(?!) The Dear Hunter Songs 08.15.16 Top 25 Jimmy Eat World Tracks
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Top 50(?!) The Dear Hunter Songs

Wanted to do this list a few months ago as a Top 25. Then news of Act V's September release came out. So I waited. And waited. And during that waiting I realized Top 25 just wouldn't cut it for me to feel satisfied. And then Act V came out. And here we are. Attempt to enjoy. As always, list is loosely ranked, emphasis on the "loosely."
50The Dear Hunter
Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading


“The Oracles on the Delphi Express” - An early venture into period-era music for the group, “The Oracles on the Delphi Express” is unashamed in its bouncy piano as the foreshadowing Oracles mouth off one of the catchiest choruses on Act II.
49The Dear Hunter
Act V: Hymns With The Devil In Confessional


“The Moon/Awake” - Act V’s true opener is, like most of the album, a slow-burning mid-tempo song. Unlike several of the album’s other cuts, its payoff is self-contained and oh so wonderful when it comes.
48The Dear Hunter
Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise


“The Bitter Suite IV and V: The Congregation and the Sermon in the Silt” - Uneasy and brooding, this song adopts the polar opposite mood of its predecessor “Bitter Suite” counterparts and makes for a great tense encounter towards the start of Act IV’s back half.
47The Dear Hunter
Act V: Hymns With The Devil In Confessional


“A Beginning” - As every end ushers in the start of something new, the final conventional “rock” Act of the series takes a bow with the aptly titled “A Beginning,” a beautiful track that grows from a faint, hypnotizing piano chord progression to a wondrously-orchestrated climax before once more fading out with the series’ recurring theme.
46The Dear Hunter
Act III: Life and Death


“Writing on a Wall"/"In Cauda Venenum” - The second-best introductory track of the Acts, “Writing on a Wall” leads into the rambunctious “In Cauda Venenum,” and kicks off Act III with abrupt proggy shifts aplenty.
45The Dear Hunter
Green


“The Inheritance” - The Color Spectrum’s Green EP has long been a mixed bag for me, but “The Inheritance” is a great closer; the simple, folksy instrumentation and lyrics about responsibility and growing up pair well and have struck a chord with me ever since my first listen.
44The Dear Hunter
Act III: Life and Death


“What It Means To Be Alone” - This is one of the most well-rounded songs off any Act, made even better by a catchy-as-hell chorus and string-backed ending. It also bridges the gap between "In Cauda Venenum" and "The Tank" perfectly.
43The Dear Hunter
Migrant


“Whisper” - One of Migrant’s few offerings with a heaping spoonful of energy, the album’s leading single sticks out as a highlight due to its bombastic, optimistic chorus and infectious melodies.
42The Dear Hunter
Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise


“Ouroboros” - At first considered by many to be an unsatisfying cliffhanger to Act IV, “Ouroboros” instead was and has continued to be a favorite of mine on that album. The suspicious chord progressions and air of regret cap off the record’s portion of the story fantastically and its melodies are among the most underrated post-Act hiatus.
41The Dear Hunter
Act III: Life and Death


“Mustard Gas” - Act III features several of the band’s most intense songs to date, and “Mustard Gas” is no exception. Its baroque second verse feels a little out of place, but the chorus and outro do far more than they need to in order to make up for it. The track remains a fan favorite at shows, and there’s little like a crowd belting out “FROM THE OTHER SIDE” in the song’s closing moments.
40The Dear Hunter
Orange


“Echo” - Orange is best known as The Dear Hunter’s classic rock EP, and “Echo” functions as a great soulful opener filled with bluesy riffage and delectable backing synths.
39The Dear Hunter
Act III: Life and Death


“Saved” - Act III’s first unabashed ballad takes half an album to arrive, but it’s well worth the wait. Its chorus is among the best on its album and its palette-cleansing tonal turnaround from “Mustard Gas” makes its sunny optimism even more enjoyable.
38The Dear Hunter
Act I: The Lake South, the River North


“City Escape” - One of the most energetic, proggiest, and loudest tracks from the band pre-Act III, “City Escape” earns minor demerits for its pointlessly long break of whirring in the middle, but immediately earns them back for remaining a fan favorite full of passion and memorability.
37The Dear Hunter
Act V: Hymns With The Devil In Confessional


“The Most Cursed of Hands/Who Am I?” - Slightly let down by an underwhelming transition into “Who Am I?”, “The Most Cursed of Hands” is lumbering bluesy Dear Hunter at its near-finest, covering one of the most important and interesting events of the Act storyline post-Act hiatus; a game of cards with the Devil himself.
36The Dear Hunter
Violet


“Lillian” - “Lillian” is practically a perfect cut from the Violet EP; theatrical and Act-esque but able to tell its own story, only the song’s slow tempo hinders it in comparison to the EP’s start and end.
35The Dear Hunter
Act I: The Lake South, the River North


“The Inquiry of Ms. Terri” - Even if it is fairly short and stuffed with relatively little diversity in ideas, Casey manages to get a lot of mileage out of Act I. In this track’s case, the exclaimed chorus and plodding verse vocal melody help “The Inquiry of Ms. Terri” stick out as one of the more underrated songs on arguably the band’s most underrated album.
34The Dear Hunter
Random EP


“Smiling Swine (Remix)” - Picture Holy Vacants-era Trophy Scars, except...you know, The Dear Hunter. This rendition of “Smiling Swine” doesn’t manage to beat its original, but by completely re-imagining the situation musically, the Boy’s first formal encounter with The Pimp/The Priest is successfully painted in a different, much more harrowing light. Filled with haunting choirs, blues licks, and a lurching pace, the remix can certainly stand on its own two feet.
33The Dear Hunter
Yellow


“She’s Always Singing” - With bright shimmery melodies and poppy guitar licks mostly confined to The Color Spectrum’s Yellow EP, quality over quantity matters; there aren’t many happy love songs in The Dear Hunter’s repertoire, but I guess when “She’s Always Singing” exists, there’s not much room for improvement.
32The Dear Hunter
Blue


“The Collapse of the Great Tide Cliffs” - Blue has always ranked among my least favorite of The Color Spectrum EPs, and part of that is because “The Collapse of the Great Tide Cliffs” summarizes its intended sound infinitely better than the other 3 tracks that precede it. Awash with mist, the outro even borders on post-rock territory, and that’s something I’d love to see more of from the band in their post-Act endeavors.
31The Dear Hunter
Violet


“Look Away” - Mysterious and tiptoey at first, the song’s sudden burst into a cathartic bridge and back exemplify the theatrical quality of much of The Dear Hunter’s work. On any Act, “Look Away” could’ve been a serious standout, and even though it’s relegated to Violet, it still excels.
30The Dear Hunter
Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise


“At the End of the Earth” - There are several “pretty” songs on Act IV, but it’s “At the End of the Earth” and its smooth and consistent crescendoing that steals the spotlight most for me. Its infectious chorus melody further boosts its momentum forward and it remains one of the band’s most underappreciated tracks.
29The Dear Hunter
Act I: The Lake South, the River North


“His Hands Matched His Tongue” - “His Hands Matched His Tongue” is effectively the Act series’ prologue’s true closer, and between the lullaby-ish vocal harmonies and its soaring climax, it certainly succeeds as one.
28The Dear Hunter
Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise


“The Squeaky Wheel” - A shot of energy in the center of Act IV, “The Squeaky Wheel” is a perfectly catchy song on its own. The lyrics about romantic manipulation already hold enormous sentimental value for me due to personal reasons, but it’s a wonderfully-orchestrated cut regardless.
27The Dear Hunter
Act I: The Lake South, the River North


“The Pimp and the Priest” - Kind of like the more-realized, slightly more-rewarding older sibling to “The Inquiry of Ms. Terri” musically, “The Pimp and the Priest” is ever-so-slightly the best full cut from Act I, and with confident horns and a steady rhythm, it knows it.
26The Dear Hunter
Migrant


“Shame” - It may be one of several tracks on Migrant to attempt that light and airy baroque pop vibe, but unlike so many of its brethren, it gloriously succeeds. The composition is stunning and strikes hard with all the best shades of Violet and the Acts then yet to come.
25The Dear Hunter
Indigo


“What Time Taught Us” - Indigo is far and away my favorite EP from The Color Spectrum, but even trying to objectify my own opinions, it doesn’t feel right to place its weakest track, “What Time Taught Us,” any lower than this. Its ambient introduction and electronic drum-addled body are, much like the rest of the EP, absolutely mesmerizing.
24The Dear Hunter
Act V: Hymns With The Devil In Confessional


“The Haves Have Naught” - New member Gavin Castleton’s duet with Casey brings a much-needed new voice to the band, and he thrives with “The Haves Have Naught.” Instrumentally it’s one of the most digestibly-composed tracks on an almost over-composed record. In fact, the inclusion of Castleton’s vocals only suffer from one lingering drawback; they weren’t integrated in the Acts sooner than now.
23The Dear Hunter
White


“No God” - “No God” is one of those songs that’d be incredibly cheesy in any other context, but alongside its compatriots on the White EP and all their graceful serenity, the message that religion can be flawed and shouldn’t decide a person’s character comes off as a shimmering epiphany. Lines like “No fear of dying keeps me alive” still hit strong and hard years down the road.
22The Dear Hunter
Act III: Life and Death


“He Said He Had a Story” - I haven’t talked much about percussion yet, but the powerful strikes that begin “He Said He Had a Story” set the tone for one of Act III’s most vital and successful tracks. Hearing the protagonist’s father brag about impregnating Ms. Terri gets a rise out of me much like it does the Boy himself, and it makes for one of the most intense, concise, and well-composed full throttle rockers in The Dear Hunter’s catalogue.
21The Dear Hunter
Indigo


“Mandala” - More brilliance from the Indigo EP; the way “Mandala” snakes its way through so many different passages makes it serve as a great foil to the rest of the EP’s reliance on repetition. As with the rest of that package, the experimental departure from the band’s primary genres pays massive dividends.
20The Dear Hunter
Green


“Crow and Cackle” - Speaking of departures from the band’s primary genres, I would never have expected the straightforward alt country tale of failing love that is “Crow and Cackle” to be anywhere near as emotional or great as it is. Green’s not a huge hit among TDH fans, but this track just absolutely nails it.
19The Dear Hunter
Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise


“King of Swords (Reversed)” - And fuck it, while we’re still on the topic of oddities, now’s as good a time as any to throw in the incredibly divisive disco number “King of Swords.” Love it or hate it, you can’t deny it’s an earworm, and I’m solidly in the camp that thinks it’s one of the best songs in The Dear Hunter’s catalogue.
18The Dear Hunter
Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading


“Where The Road Parts” - One of The Dear Hunter’s earliest songs, the finished version that finally appeared on Act II sticks out as the clear highlight among a cluster of [CONTROVERSIAL STATEMENT ALERT] weak tracks on the album’s back half. Another fan favorite, being there in the midst of a crowd collectively shouting “YOU WERE THE OOOOOONLY ONE THAT DIDN’T FOOOOOLD” is an utterly unreal experience.
17The Dear Hunter
Yellow


“Misplaced Devotion” - With hooks abound and “OOOOOHs” as catchy as this, is it any wonder a song about persuading someone to cheat with you sounds so damn happy? It’s as triumphant on record as it is live, and that’s pretty impressive.
16The Dear Hunter
Violet


“Mr. Malum” - As good as the rest of the cuts from Violet are, “Mr. Malum” is an utter romp that widely outshines all songs of similar nature from The Color Spectrum. It’s easy to imagine this one as an early version of Act V’s more recent “Mr. Usher (On His Way to Town),” except this one is, you know, exponentially more awesome.
15The Dear Hunter
Act V: Hymns With The Devil In Confessional


“Gloria” - It may just be because it’s had the most time to grow on me, but “Gloria” is pretty handily my favorite track from the newly-released Act V; chalk that up to my preference for hooks over long-term flow or what have you, but there’s something about “Gloria” that just nails it, a perfect representation of how Casey has mastered his craft in the decades it’s been since The Dear Hunter started.
14The Dear Hunter
Orange


“A Sea of Solid Earth” - Another underappreciated gem, “A Sea of Solid Earth” is The Dear Hunter slowing Orange’s vibrant 70’s energy down and replacing it with a slow-burning swim. Everything about the song just shines, and by the time Casey gets to his guitar solo in the bridge, expect your face to be melted off.
13The Dear Hunter
Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading


“Smiling Swine” - The normal version this time, “Smiling Swine” manages to feel naively upbeat for its subject matter and has more than earned its place as a fan favorite, a testament to how good a little rhythm driven ditty with vocal rounds can please just when the mood is right.
12The Dear Hunter
Red


“We’ve Got a Score to Settle” - While the Red EP is often derided for being simplistic (for TDH standards anyway), most can agree that “We’ve Got a Score to Settle” is a goddamn blast. Manchester Orchestra’s influence bleeds all over the track and the chorus features Casey at his most unhinged and yelpy in all the best ways.
11The Dear Hunter
Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading


“The Lake and the River” - For most bands, a 9-minute epic would be automatic grounds for inclusion in a list such as this. But this is The Dear Hunter we’re talking about, and as you may have noticed, “A Night on the Town” being (narrowly) absent here shows that’s not necessarily the case. “The Lake and the River,” on the other hand, is an epic worth talking about, its scope doubly impressive due to how early in their career the band penned it. Bonus points for how it gave rise to several of the band’s melodies to-be-reprised down the road.
10The Dear Hunter
Act III: Life and Death


“The Tank” - The best track on Act III, “The Tank” gives us one of the most memorable glances into the Boy’s World War I adventure, and man is it foreboding. The jolty opening snare hits and anxious strings sell the situation with effort to spare; effort it wisely juxtaposes with a sweet chorus that can switch back to the battlefield march at the drop of a hat.
9The Dear Hunter
Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise


“Rebirth"/"The Old Haunt” - As the first taste of a new and improved The Dear Hunter post-The Color Spectrum, Migrant, and Amour and Attrition, “Rebirth” makes good as Act IV’s introduction and “The Old Haunt” immediately showcases the band implementing its newfound knowledge. Add to that how the climax of “The Old Haunt” is one of the best moments in the band’s discography, and it’s hard not to consider this pair of openers a winner.
8The Dear Hunter
Indigo


“Progress”/”Therma” - Essential to hear back to back, “Progress” is a meticulously-crafted pop goldmine with a refrain everybody should be able to love, and just when its soothing repetition would start to grow tiresome, “Therma” comes in and jams the EP to an incredibly satisfying conclusion. Casey has said he’d like to explore the sounds first heard on Indigo more in the future. If he can pull stuff like this out of his genius ass again, I’d be all for it.
7The Dear Hunter
White


“Lost But Not All Gone” - The final track not just on the White EP but The Color Spectrum as a whole, “Lost But Not All Gone” and its half-impossible to decipher lyrics take all the glory and inspiration of a Dear Hunter epic and confine it to a 4-minute slab of soul-awakening beauty. It’s no small task, but they're The Dear Hunter, so they pull it off with ease.
6The Dear Hunter
Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise


“Waves” - With so many brilliant songs on Act IV, it almost feels like crowning “Waves” as its best is too lazy to be accurate, but the lead single and all its earworms genuinely make it one of the greatest songs The Dear Hunter have ever written as well as a prime entry point for new listeners.
5The Dear Hunter
White


“Home” - For the longest time, I could only listen to “Home” with a grain of salt; the lyrics lacked any depth and they felt uninspired, letting the great musical composition down a bit. Personal matters helped the song eventually click as a whole, and considering the spirit of White’s “pure” approach, nowadays I can’t find fault with any part of it anymore. “Home” may be simple, but it encourages you to look up and embrace the things offering you comfort.
4The Dear Hunter
Act I: The Lake South, the River North


“Battesimo del Fuoco” - One could argue it’s pointless to include a 2-minute a cappella piece among the band’s top 5 songs ever, but considering it’s the band's first canon song, frequently reprised in their later work, and one of the best a cappella cuts I’ve ever heard, I’d feel dishonest placing it anywhere else. “Battesimo del Fuoco” is an integral part of The Dear Hunter, and nothing can change that.
3The Dear Hunter
Migrant


“Bring You Down” - Arguably the band’s most successful attempt at crafting a concise baroque pop rock track, it outshines everything else on its album and shows off some of Casey’s best vocals amidst a beautiful backdrop of strings. Migrant has never been a huge fan favorite, and it sure didn’t do itself any favors by peaking with its opening song. An underappreciated gem in the band’s discography, no doubt about it.
2The Dear Hunter
The Migrations Annex


“The Love” - “The Love” isn’t just the best song to come out of the Migrant sessions, it’s one of the band’s best and most underrated offerings period. With a possibly autobiographical set of lyrics about being lost and looking for guidance delivered by one of Casey’s best vocal performances to date accompanied by gorgeous piano and strings, the way “The Love” builds to its climax is stirring and heart-wrenching, a moment of near-unparalleled beauty in the group’s catalogue that I feel no shame in admitting has made me shed a tear on multiple occasions before.
1The Dear Hunter
Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading


“The Bitter Suite I and II: Meeting Ms. Leading & Through The Dime”/”The Bitter Suite III: Embraced” - I’m sure most would agree that the first three installments of the Bitter Suite are essential to hear back to back. Following the protagonist through his first sexual encounter with Ms. Leading, the music flows from shifty mystique to an hoppy jaunt before intimately simmering down and, well…releasing, double entendre obviously intended. Overflowing with several of TDH's crowning lines and an unmatched balance of youthful spirit and theatrics, these two Bitter Suite tracks are caught up in the moment, and for their combined 14-minute runtime, the suite is anything but bitter. In addition to marking one of the pivotal point-of-no-return moments in the narrative, these songs are among the most jubilant in the Act series, and their emotion and importance are a prime example of what first comes to mind when I think of The Dear Hunter - no small feat for a band this accomplished.
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