Act II: The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading Review

artist: The Dear Hunter date: 05/30/2007 category: compact discs
The Dear Hunter: Act II: The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading
Release Date: May 22, 2007
Label: Triple Crown
Genres: Indie Rock, Chamber Pop
Number Of Tracks: 15
Love it or hate it, The Dear Hunter's Act II... is certainly a grandiose project filled with ambition.
 Sound: 9.5
 Lyrics: 10
 Overall Impression: 9.5
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 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (2) 8 comments vote for this album:
overall: 10
Act II: The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading Reviewed by: it consumes me, on may 30, 2007
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: "Act II: The Meaning of, & All Things Regarding Ms. Leading" is the debut album from The Dear Hunter, an avant orchestra pop band. Even putting the band under the mouthful "an avant orchestra pop band" doesn't exactly make justice to everything the band successfully incorporates into this concept masterpiece. Oh no, dear (heh), you'll be greeted with large doses of jazz, blues, punk, electronica, waltz, circus, saloon music, and baritone railroad chants. Great sudden climaxes in the songs are reminiscent to those of Mr. Bungle and The Mars Volta ("De-Loused in the Comatorium" days), which incidentally means that the climaxes also change the style of music within individual songs. Although there are catchy melodies, don't think this is simple music, odd meters are spread throughout the album, intricate layers, and tons of instruments (most of which is performed by the man who created the band, Casey Crescenzo, former guitarist and singer of The Receiving End of Sirens. I really enjoy this album, better than the EP "Act I: The Lake South, the River North" and really anything that TREOS could ever make (imo), but I really can't stand TREOS so thoughts to myself. Album of the year 2007. // 10

Lyrics: A moment of silence (The Death and Berth) and The Procession work together to show that Ms. Terri has died, the dear hunter's only matriarchal figure. When she dies, he decides to leave the land of the river and the lake, his depart on the Delphi Express. This is when he finds the Oracles, who are having problems with their god, they depict images of his future, "crimson hands", "masquerading brandish words", and conflict. So now he wanders back to his town, and he finds more out about the house church. There, he meets Ms. Leading, a "former hooker" he falls in love with, believing her when she says "that part of her life" is over with, working for the pimp. After that night of their "intimacy", he can't get her out of his head, only to become more suspicious about her and why she she sleeps on the curbside. Eventually, he leaves Ms. Leading because he knows what she really is. Meanwhile, a girl on a beach finds messages he's sent to Ms. Leading, the first is vicarious love, because he did love her at first, and the second is pain because he then gained knowledge of what she was, yadayadayada. Through this experience, he's not on the "fence between pain and arrogance" anymore, he's now enlightened of his past love, and he's ready to move on. First though, he's still got to know more about his goddammed history, so yet again, "Sing softly, sing me to the lake, sing softly, bring me to the lake." That's my take on it, at least. Act II is an emotional album across all levels, universal to anyone. And how the vocal harmonies work with the story, it'll give you shivers. Casey, himself, has gotten better as a singer as well, able to sing with incredible range, and all in his chest, no falsetto here. // 10

Overall Impression: Compared to other albums, this is one of the best pieces of work my ears have ever had the pleasure to be so aurally massaged. The most impressive, all are all necessary to make the album what it is. Music! Music is to love and the joy of it's beautiful literature available for interpretation, but simple enough to be understood. If this were stolen, I'd call out a hit on the man who stole it, take the album from him, and even then buy a new one. Ace album. // 10

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overall: 9.3
Act II: The Meaning Of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading Reviewed by: sweetpeasuzie, on may 30, 2007
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: The Dear Hunter's full-length debut album Act II: The Meaning Of And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading is a hybrid of rock, country and jazz elements with dollops of chamber pop and classic fixings. The Boston stationed rock quartet founded by lead singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Casey Crescenzo formerly of The Receiving End Of Sirens, formed The Dear Hunter with keyboardist Luke Dent, drummer Sam Dent, and guitarist Erick Serna. Crescenzo' father Phil Crescenzo plays the banjo on some tracks, which provides a heartland country vibe lacing through the orchestral rock opuses. Act II like it's predecessor Act I: The Lake South The River North, the band's debut EP from 2006, is a concept album. The concept behind Act Ii revolves around cynicism, ambition and human vulnerabilities, which cause one to be deceived and to fall into vicious circles entrapping them in the endless cycle of harmful behavior. The album has a prelude of orchestral tones and a cello soliloquy on The Death And The Berth which branches into a cornucopia of fomenting rhythms and coiled guitar lines coursing through The Procession. The chord shifts spin into a flurry of cyclones which are counterbalanced by softy garrisoned transitions, so the melodies are continuously mutating. The songs have a number of bridges, which produce changes in the tempo and dominant chords. Streaks of acoustic guitar passages on The Lake And The Rose yield to the dramatic piano solo and twinkling bell chimes. There is a theatrical-pop quality in tunes like The Church And The Dime and Smiling Swine and country harmonies in melodies like The Oracles On The Delphi Express and Black Sandy Beaches. The three sections of The Bitter Suite have crisp interchanges between the jazz piping and modern rock schemes. The heavy bass grooves on Evicted parakite the towering vocal parts while the horn and string arrangements on Blood Of The Rose coat the jazz blues melody with a smooth sleek sensuality. The undulating movements and curvaceous twists on Where The Road Parts and Dear Ms. Leading fluctuate between being tautly knotted and loosely flowy. The soft rock melodies of Red Hands and Vital Vessle Vindicates are laden with swirling violins and tender piano sequences tethered to the marching drumbeats. The album concludes with the sounds of the open sea and softly ringing bell chimes like a calling to be free from bondage. // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics give meaning to the music demonstrating the chicanery which human vulnerabilities fall prey to, like in the song The Bitter Suite. Crescenzo reflects, She had the summer's smile with winter's skin/ She moved/ A silhouette to serenade the soul/ She spoke with words beyond me/ And slowly I pulled away to receive a gesture implying an answer I didn't have/ So I then smiled responding alarming 'Yes'/ Her hands were the first that I'd ever felt. It's a scene about being seduced and later deceived by seduction's promises. All of the lyrics are written by Casey Crescenzo and a recurring term that he uses is decay, the decay of love, sensitivity and morals which forms a vicious circle that never releases it's prey from it's bondage. Themes about being deceived by seduction and the decay of love are attached to a wide range of artists including Def Leppard in Too Late For Love, Judas Priest's version of Love Bites, and Naked Eyes' Promises to name a few who had pop hits with this theme. It is a theme as old as civilization but what The Dear Hunter provides to this theme is another level of consciousness, a look at human vulnerabilities that fall prey to seduction's ploys. Crescenzo uses the metaphor a Machiavellian dandelion to express the decay of innocence referencing Machiavelli who penned the belief that the ends justify the means, which validates all actions including immoral ones to satisfy one's ambition and lust. The 16th century Italian statesman Machiavelli was killed by his men who followed this perennial belief. It's interesting that Crescenzo resurrected Machiavelli's standard and applied it to the themes in The Dear Hunter's music. // 10

Overall Impression: Act II is a story set to modern rock music with chamber pop and jazz influences. A harp softly wisps across the melodic lines of Blood Of The Rose while being wrapped in violin and cello flutters as the french horn and trumpet parts are whisked into waltz-like rhythms reminiscent of the composer Maurice Ravel. Crescenzo sings the verses in Spanish and have an intrinsic relationship with the changing movements, chafing when the instrument parts do and having a silky resonance when the melody does. The textures on the album are multi-faceted and continually changing in tempo and density. Act I covered different musical ground including gospel, but Act II has songs that till country hues in it's modern rock and chamber pop mix which gives the album an earthy tone over a spiritual one. Act Ii is a growth from Act I and gives the concept for the album ample endowment and lasting meaning. // 9

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