THE LYRICAL SPECTRUM
By Simon Weedn
If one were to ask most people a walking down the street what came to mind when they heard the words “prog rock,” they might mention a slew of ’70s bands like Yes, King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer and the genre might seem like something lingering in the past. However, thanks to folks like The Dear Hunter, who for the last eight years has been breathing new life into the genre with blends of indie rock and post-hardcore, prog rock continues to thrive and evolve in present day.
Though having a humble beginning as a side project for The Receiving End Of Sirens member Casey Crescenzo, The Dear Hunter has evolved into one of the most sonically superior bands in the country. The band’s first three records are concept albums that are part of an ideal, six-album story arch entitled, Acts. The albums are all punctuated by incredibly vast soundscapes replete with gorgeously intricate guitar and rhythm work and filled in with beautiful arrangements of classical instruments. The lyrical stories that the records work to tell are all fantastically crafted and show off some of the greatest heights of human imagination. The Dear Hunter’s execution is even masterful and superb, never coming off as busy or confusing.
In recent years, the band has taken a break from it’s Acts series to focus on different avenues in its music. Its first work after Acts was a nine-record series of concept EPs called The Color Spectrum, which as the name might suggest, focused each EP on an individual color. Most recently, however, the band released it’s first non-concept focused work, Migrant, earlier this year. For a band who’s music is rooted in expansive production and fantastical, fictional stories, Migrant was a major change in direction.
By The Dear Hunter standards, the record was stripped down (although the production was still heavy and lavish) and the songs were all personal pieces by Casey Crescenzo about his life. “I don’t think the act of writing it was difficult,” says Crescenzo, “but the act of OK-ing it on a personal level was the difficult part. The act of taking a step back and saying, ‘I can record this song and show people these lyrics,’ I think that was the harder part.” Though some criticized the group for producing such a different and somewhat softer work than previous records, Casey seems to be focused on the bigger picture of things, “One thing I’ve heard from some fans, who really do love the record, is this sort of instinctual fear that the band is going to become a soft act; as a sign of things to come . . . The way I view it is that you have a body of work you make over the course of your career and there’s nothing wrong [with] sort of sprinkling in more polarizing records or things that are more left of center for your greater goal as an artist.”
As the year winds down, The Dear Hunter take yet another ambitious step; this time in a live setting by taking a string quartet on the road with them across the United States. “It all kind of happened very naturally, but it’s been something I’ve been trying to get the business side of it behind, and it’s just taken this long and finally it’s just everything coming together in a natural way,” says Casey. The concerts will feature the band playing a selection of their works, some songs of which were recorded with strings already in place and others which Casey recently arranged strings for. On putting together the set list Casey muses, “Half of it was looking at the set list from the last tour and seeing what songs can transfer over and will be interesting to play for people that have already heard them a few months ago but the addition of the strings will be exciting.” One thing is certain, this series of concerts will be a real treat for long time fans of The Dear Hunter who will finally get to see the band’s music fleshed out live and a truly unique experience for those just getting introduced to the band’s music.
With the band’s current tour underway, Crescenzo beginning work on his most ambitious undertaking to date, the composing of an actual full-scale symphony and the always looming idea of another Acts album, one thing is certain, the future is looking very bright and full of possibilities for Casey Crescenzo and The Dear Hunter.
The Dear Hunter w/ Matt Embree and Naive Thieves at the Fox Pomona Theater, 301 S. Garey Ave., Pomona, (877) 283-6976; www.foxpomona.com. Sat, Sept. 28. 7pm. $30.