- The Dear Hunter - Act I
The Dear Hunter - Act II
- Feb 2, 2019 The Death and the Berth
- Feb 2, 2019 The Procession
- Feb 7, 2019 The Lake and the River
- Feb 9, 2019 The Oracles on the Delphi Express
- Feb 14, 2019 The Church and the Dime
- Feb 24, 2019 The Bitter Suite I & II: Meeting Ms. Leading/Through the Dime
- Feb 25, 2019 The Bitter Suite III: Embrace
- Mar 28, 2019 Smiling Swine
- Apr 26, 2019 Evicted
- May 4, 2019 Blood of the Rose
- May 11, 2019 Red Hands
- May 29, 2019 Where The Road Parts
- Jun 4, 2019 Dear Ms. Leading
- Jun 21, 2019 Black Sandy Beaches
- Jul 2, 2019 Vital Vessels Vindicate
Into the Concept
I created this blog with the intent of dissecting the albums that fall into the category of ‘concept albums’. These albums have a cohesion between the songs that add to on overarching meaning. Some of them tell stories, while others make political statements, or explore philosophical concepts. I aim to look at both the lyrical content of the albums, as well as the musical content. Artists love to find ways to connect the dots, or to add symbolism through motifs, and I feel like these albums deserve an in depth analysis to explore the ideas the artist intended to share.
Vital Vessels Vindicate is the last piece of Act II, and with it we see the last of the City, Ms. Leading, and the Pimp/Priest. At least for a while. After Hunter’s breakup with Ms. Leading, and subsequent arguing and heartbreak, he decides to leave the City behind him. Hunter enlists in a war happening overseas, and departs from his home once more.
With the damage done, we move onto a song that gives us retrospect. Hunter and Ms. Leading spent a year together, only for it to end in hurtful words said behind the safety of letters. Black Sandy Beaches is a song that shows us a character removed from the story, reacting to these letters of severance.
If Where The Road Parts was a reflection of Hunter’s depression during the breakup, then Dear Ms. Leading is the portrayal of his anger. Throughout Where The Road Parts we see him become bitter in his sadness, and that bitterness soon takes hold of him as he begins to lash out. Dear Ms. Leading is surprisingly full of energy, maybe beating out the rest of the tracks on the album in that regard. Act II is a good summation of the angst in young love, and this track captures Hunter’s emotions with a burst of force to propel us through this departure.
Act II has just reached a climax with Red Hands and these last four songs deal closely with Hunter and his emotions during the aftermath. Where The Road Parts, Dear Ms. Leading, and Black Sandy Beaches are all very emotionally raw in different ways and serve as a tripartite resolution for Act II.
The characters have fallen into a rhythm the last few months, and Hunter still somehow doesn’t know that his girlfriend sleeps with other people for a living. Like he’s literally driving her directly to their house. He is being paid to bring her to their door for house calls. These homes must have some really good insulation, you’d think he’d be able to hear something. Anyways.
Blood of the Rose takes it’s turn in the story by giving us some fancy foreshadowing during the montage scene. All of the participants have been dealt their hand and now they play over the course of a year, some with a stern elegance and some with absolutely no concept of a poker face.
Ms. Leading’s story may not be the focus of the Acts, but there are times where she takes the stage. In Evicted, we learn more about her, as Hunter takes a step to the side, gets a job and learns to drive. This song is from the perspective of our love interest, who at this point is becoming a main character. After she encounters Hunter she’s left to her feelings and thinks about her past, as she tries to get a perspective on her situation.
Hunter met a character of interest, and she took him on a small adventure through her life in the City. Ms. Leading led him through the Church to the Dime, and then upstairs where they shared an embrace. Hunter is unaware of his current situation of having slept with a sex worker, and she slips away before he stirs awake. Hunter’s first day away from his cabin consisted of burying his mother, hitching a ride with some unfamiliar people on a train, wandering around a large new city, going to the club, and having sex with a mysterious woman he had just met. His one day after leaving home was more eventful than the entirety of last year for me.
The Bitter Suite III: Embrace continues are adventure through the Dime with Ms. Leading and Hunter. The two of them have just met, and our protagonist is being lead around by his new chaperone. Meeting by the Church, they made their way to the Dime and watched the ladies there put on a performance, with a brief on stage appearance from the Pimp/Priest.
The Bitter Suite is a series of songs, with the first three being here in Act II. The first two songs are paired together, seamlessly transitioning from Meeting Ms. Leading into Through the Dime. In part I Hunter talks about his first impressions upon meeting our new character, as well as some dialogue between the two. As we segue into part II, we get some of the Pimp/Priest talking about the Dime as Hunter visits for the first time.
Though we’ve gotten plenty of insight into the ploys of our antagonist, this song is a proper introduction to his lairs. Acting as a Priest at the Church during the day and a Pimp and the Dime at night, he manipulates his clients between each location, profiting off of their insecurities. Hunter has just made his way to the City after his curious encounter with the Oracles. He’s wandered in the direction of the church bells, and found himself face to face with the Church, which is not to far from the Dime.
Hunter manages to find the next step in his journey on the Delphi Express. Left alone in solitude, he has chosen to make his way to the world beyond. He finally makes his way to the train station only to find that he has no idea where he is. This song follows The Lake and the River’s interlude that signaled the oncoming train, and we get to meet some new characters.
The Lake and the River is a mammoth of a song and a demonstration of everything good about Act II. This song is over nine minutes and doesn’t drag one bit. Exciting but not overwhelming, The Lake and the River moves through each section seamlessly and gives the impression of a standard song no longer than five minutes. If The Procession was the musical transition from Act I to Act II, then The Lake and the River pulls us straight into Act II with Casey’s refined skills at creating this rock opera.
The Procession is the first full length song on the album, coming in at just under five minutes. It carries the torch of ‘big opener that’s not technically the opener’ from City Escape on the last album. We got the introduction with a smaller piece and now we have a full band to debut what the bulk of Act II really is.
The Death And The Berth starts the album with so much to be said for an instrumental track that doesn’t even touch the first minute mark. The album skips forward a few years to Hunters late teens, although not much has happened in the time between. Living with his mother in isolation near the Tree and the Lake, he has lived his sheltered life in wonder of what’s beyond. The album is twice as long as Act I (literally 15 more seconds would have been exactly double), so we can expect a lot to happen in Hunters near future.
This maritime story set in an apocalyptic future comes to us in the medium of, you guessed it, a concept album! The first full length album by the London-based band Haken, Aquarius is a story of tragedy regarding the exploitation of a mermaid, a cataclysmic natural disaster, and tackles themes of love and self sacrifice.
As the Act comes to an end we’re met with a somber piano piece, and a hidden track at the end that’s not really even a track. The River North leaves us anticipating the future of Hunter and where his life will lead us, with subtle foreshadowing of what’s to come. In this entry I’m going to do my best to summarize the events of the album, as well as add in anything that wasn’t mentioned in an earlier post.
An emotional ballad riddled with hints of nostalgia, His Hands Matched His Tongue takes us back to Hunter’s story. We have a song that seems pretty straightforward, but looking closer at the material we have things get way more confusing. I don’t actually even know if I’m sure what’s going on here. Is this supernatural or not Casey? Stop confusing us. When we last left our hero, he was literally crying in a ditch after falling out of a tree. Isn’t childhood fun?
The Pimp And The Priest is a sinister anthem dedicated to our main antagonist. It paints an image of his reputation, while setting up a few themes that will be seen throughout the story. This song acts as a character introduction, removing us from Hunter's childhood story for a moment.
Moving into the latter half of the Act, 1878 is full of foreshadowing events to come. It’s the longest song on the album, but due to it’s excellent pacing you wouldn’t even know (the album is also pretty short, so that helps too). Even when things pick up during the chorus, it feels like this song is floating by, nothing too drastic, while always moving forward.
The Inquiry of Ms. Terri gives us more insight into the characters that we’ve met so far. This song has a slower pace than City Escape, but there seems to be a lot more going on both musically and lyrically. We get a clear picture of the relationship between Hunter and his mother here, with an ambiance in the music to match the ominous tone of the story here.
City Escape is the first song in the story to feature a full band, somehow still managing to give us a new idea of what to expect three songs in. It’s also the first song to really have an event we can put on a timeline. This is where the core of the story begins to take shape, and this is the cool chase scene that you see in the beginning of action movies.
Battesimo del Fuoco, or ‘Baptism of Fire’ as translated from Latin, is the first track of the first act of the six part saga that is The Dear Hunter. The story observes a boy named Hunter, from his birth to his death.