3. City Escape
Welcome to Try The Calamari, a blog devoted to reviewing albums through the eyes of a musically illiterate ninny. And, what better way to kick off the blog than to do a review of an album starring to my all-time favorite band, The Dear Hunter.
I'll eventually get around to reviewing all their albums because I'm a certifiably obsessive lunatic. But that's for later, and this is now. Today I will be reviewing the first album to kick off their ongoing saga, Act 1: The Lake South, The River North.
This 8 track EP is the beginning of a 6 Act (not to be confused with Parliament's Six Acts) story line woven by the exceedingly talented singer and songwriter, Casey Crescenzo. In a turtle shell, the tale follows the trials of young man after the unfortunate passing of his affectionate, prostitute mother. It's an incredibly intricate and gripping story line, so it's best to leave you with nothing more than an extremely brief synopsis (if you wind up lost, there are Act summaries online).
The EP begins with an acapella performance that forcibly rams its fist down your throat and snatches the air right out of your esophagus. There's no better way to showcase your band's debut other than flexing your vocal cords for the audience. Battesimo Del Fuoco is most certainly a force to be reckoned with, but don't think the magic stops there. No-ho-ho, my friends. The show has just begun.
Despite the aforementioned acapella, Battesimo Del Fuoco somehow seamlessly transitions into The Lake South, an instrumental heavy on brass and violin (Take your best stab because I don't know the specific instruments).
Following the mysterious and carnivalesque instrumental, The Dear Hunter finally reveals its true colors in City Escape. This song rings in with a stampede of furiosity as instruments are orchestrated in crushing unison. Casey brings out the full range of his vocals in this song, forcing his unique voice upon the listeners (in the most sexual way imaginable).
The Inquiry of Ms. Terri gives your eardrums the well-needed rest after the intensity of the previous song. Well, for a short time, anyway. Starting at about 1:50 the song reverts to the epic audibles your eardrums were so recently subjected to; it's simply delightful.
1878 has a similar structure as The Inquiry of Ms. Terri in terms of alternating tempos, but with more celestial breakdowns and (what I believe) a jazzy undertone.
Moving on, The Pimp and the Priest returns to the carnivalesque sound similar to that in The Lake South, but with added versatile vocals and easy-to-follow, dark lyrics. You may need some aid in deciphering some of the earlier songs, but you're likely to follow this one along quite well.
Next in line is Hands Matched His Tongue, which starts off mellow with the acoustic guitar and Casey's voice playing over subtle background vocals and various instruments. Halfway through the song, the background sounds come to life and combine with the lead singer's voice and guitar.
The closing of the EP is very intriguing even though it's simply a piano solo. The River North is somewhat of a haunting melody, but it gives off the impression of an intermission of sorts. It's as if the band is saying there is more to come (in which case there most certainly is).
In closing, this album's cerebral vocals, alternating tempos, and intense instrumentals require your utmost attention, and I suggest you give it more than your average listen. Otherwise, I'd be forced to come to your house, pop my trunk, take out my semi-automatic typewriter, and write you a vexing letter. On second thought, it's totally up to you. No threats are being promised this early in the blog development process.
Oh, yeah. I rate albums using droplets of squid ink. That's a 4.5 if you're wondering.
P.S. Look for The Dear Hunter's new album, Migrant, coming April 2nd, 2013.