If you’re anything like me, you probably started the day by recognizing that the start of a new work week had indeed arrived and then immediately began shaking your fists at the sky in anger. Monday is rarely anyone’s favorite day, and from what I have seen firsthand it feels safe to say it’s the one day of the week some people outright hate. I guess to them the arrival of the work week symbolizes the end of their quote/unquote freedom, and as a result they head into the office/factory/restaurant/store with a negative outlook already on their mind. This leads to bad attitudes, which only makes the experience of being at work worse, and for some reason it also seems to make time slow to a crawl. We’re not about that life, and we hope this post can do the same you that the song contained within it did for us.
Sometimes in life you encounter an artist who continues to impress with each and every creative endeavor they pursue. They become so impressive, in fact, that you are willing to follow any and every future idea they have sight unseen. Call it being a fanatic or simply a diehard believer, but whatever label you place on it that relationship is special. It’s something is reserved for only the deepest of connection with someone or some group we as people can never really know. It’s intimate.
In my life I have known four artists I can say I have felt this way about, and there is none that I feeling more strongly for than The Dear Hunter. Their albums share both an ongoing story, as well as a series of unique listening experiences that challenge that concept of modern alternative music in every way. It’s as if founder Casey Crescenzo set out to make the most complex, yet undeniably infectious cinematic rock band the world has ever known, then challenged himself to raise the bar for quality and diversity in every facet with each release while simultaneously telling several stories stretched across numerous recordings over what is quickly becoming a decade. To say there is a high concept idea or twelve at play would be an understatement, but there is something very inviting about every release. An experimental, genre-defying band for everyone, if you will.
I have tried over several years and reviews to convey my appreciate for The Dear Hunter’s music, so I’m going to try and not repeat those efforts here. I’m a fan, and I think that is established at this point. The reason I’m a fan is because the sheer fact a band like this exists and receives the support of not only a respected label like Equal Vision, but countless thousands of fans around the world, inspires me to chase every big idea I have in my own life. Casey Crescenzo had an idea for what his future could be, and he set to making it a reality in spite of what may have seemed safe or popular at the time. He carved his own path from day one, and with each subsequent release or tour he continues to do things in a way only he can conceive. Each record may not play out the way you expected, but you know it’s exactly what he wanted and you have to respect it. There is no blueprint for such a band, and yet they have found a way into the hearts of people who love any one of a variety of genres, including rock and singer-songwriter shoe gaze. The Dear Hunter is whatever Crescendo wants it to be, and he’s cultivated a following that embraces that ambiguity with open arms.
There is nothing I wouldn’t do to feel confident enough in my own creative endeavors to do exactly what I wanted at all times. To fully express my vision, regardless of what twists and turns arise through doing so, and not allow the pressure of pleasing the outside world influence my work. There may be things Crescenzo feels he is still unable to do, but when I hear the challenging and thought-provoking work he creates I get the feeling he’s content in what is being delivered to the listener. He knows he has done his best and he’s prepared to his work with the world feeling secure in the quality of his effort. He’s not concerned with criticism because he’s already challenging himself to outdo whatever came before because it’s the only way he can ever hope to accomplish such a task. He must always be thinking ahead. Focusing on what is to come, and doing he best to stay true to himself.
I’m definitely projecting what I aspire to be onto Crescenzo and his music, but it works to inspire me to reach such heights. The Dear Hunter’s latest album, Act IV: Rebirth In Reprise, is no exception. Over the course of well over an hour the band delivers a lush and entirely entrancing near masterpiece that intricately weaves elements of previous albums into an entirely new collection of material. The first time I heard it I felt the need to sit in a room without distraction and let the album wash over me. I let it carry me to whatever sonic landscape Crescenzo wanted to explore, and I was happy I did. This album is The Dear Hunter’s best yet, and it leads me to believe there is even better work to come in the band’s future.
This week, give Act IV a chance. It’s a big undertaking in comparison to the short and sleek sugary pop albums dominating charts today, but it’s definitely worth your time. If you don’t walk away feeling inspired you can at least find peace in the fact you heard what is amongst the best examples of true art being created in music today.
James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.