Act III: Life and Death – The Dear Hunter (2009)

The Dear Hunter

Album artwork for Act III: Life and Death

What is the music composer or songwriter, if not a storyteller? That has been the transcendent role of the musician throughout the many ages of human history.  From the first note that is struck, plucked, bowed, blown, or whatever else, we (typically) allow the performer to take over our attention until his story has finished.  While this is true for just about any kind of music, some artists have perfected the art of storytelling in a way that not only warrants our attention, but enables us to temporarily let go of everything else plaguing our mind while we surrender ourselves to its enthrallment.  Today we take a look at The Dear Hunter, one such group that has achieved mastery in this field.  The Dear Hunter originally began as a side project of Casey Crescenzo, who was a lead vocalist and guitarist for the post-hardcore band The Receiving End of Sirens at the time.  After writing the original demos for the first album to be released under this new name, Crescenzo elected to take leave of his old band in the interest of devoting his full attention to pushing The Dear Hunter forward.

This first EP, which was released in September 2006, came to be known as Act I: The Lake South, The River North.  This was the opening volume of a planned six-act story written by Crescenzo.  To quote his own words, “The Dear Hunter is the story of a boy, from his creation to his untimely end; the beautifully rapturous to the truly tragic.  Set at the dawn of the 20th century, the debut EP gives birth to a story, and attempts to make sense of the future by explaining.  Simply put, The Dear Hunter sings of things to which we can all relate: lust, deceit, greed, and hunting.”  I will not go too much into the depths of the intricately-crafted world of the story (that is something that you must do for yourself), but I can assure you that it is the kind of world that transcends time and exists completely in the surrealism of your own consciousness.

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Deja Entendu – Brand New (2003)

Album artwork for Deja Entendu

Album artwork for Deja Entendu

Despite the increasingly rapid development of digital audio technology and electronic music production, the classic punk rock band setup will always hold an irreplaceable spot in the hearts of youth across the globe.  Part of what makes the genre so unique is the sheer amount of passion and aggression that goes into the physical performance of the songs. Imagine the scene in your head: a small, dimly lit venue, packed to the brink with skaters and social rejects.  At the center is a stage, with the band pouring out their heart and soul into the music they’re making, complete with stage jumps, power slides, and ferocious gang vocals. The entire crowd is headbanging, screaming the lyrics, and dancing to the beat.  This is a group of people that has been united through music, breaking down any and all social barriers.  This style of music might not be for everyone, but the amount of energy that is poured into the art is undeniable.

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Brand New takes this scene to an entirely new level.  Their music is not just aggressive and energetic; it is masterfully crafted.  Just as “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” will get the whole audience on its feet, “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot” provides the perfect backdrop to showcase the melodic and deeply emotional lyricism of the group. Contrary to the popular music of the time (and which continues to this day), Deja Entendu is a prime example of easily accessible music that doesn’t become caught up with commercial appeal and recycled emotional content.

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