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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Dear Hunter

The Color Spectrum

Review by Mark Johnson

This Providence, Rhode Island based band is made up of Casey Crescenzo (vocals, piano, guitar, arrangements, and direction),  Nick Crescenzo (drums, percussion, and vocals) and Maxwell Tousseau (guitar and vocals).  If you’re a fan of either of the bands Muse or Keane, you will probably recognize similar themes and sounds on this album. That is not to say this is cover music in any way, but you can definitely hear the influence from each of those bands here on Dear Hunter’s latest release. Since I’m a fan of both bands this was a welcomed addition to my collection, especially since Keane has veered off in more of a pop direction lately.

Here are eleven tracks that will provide you with great traveling or listening music to help set a mood. On this album, the band picked up the theme of color coding each of the tracks to the feelings in the music, (thus the color titles in parenthesis).  The Color Spectrum is a tale of two albums for me. The first four tracks are straight ahead alternative/indie, while the second ‘half’ of the album is more progressive/alternative. Together it’s a great new band to discover, full of talent and emotionally powerful music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Filth and Squalor (Black)

The disc opens with some of the most interesting chords and keyboard sounds I’ve heard this year. The lyrics are dark and haunting. The music matches with power and flair coming from the steel drums and percussion, heavy bass and buzzing guitars. That ripping guitar buzz is definitely an early draw for the album and a great way to start. Casey Crescenzo and Cameron Thorne are both credited with vocals. The theme is similar to some of Muse’s songs, “Tear it down and start again,” but this is even more powerful than what they’ve delivered recently, unless you go back to Take a Bow. The programming at the beginning and throughout is just so well planned and different, making this a great opener and one of the best tracks on the album.

Deny it All (Red)

Tanner Merritt is credited with guest vocals on “Deny it All (Red),” which carries on that Muse sound as the track opens. This one is more of a straight ahead rocker with power guitar, bass, percussion and drums supporting.

But There’s Wolves (Orange)

Casey and Judy Crescenzo are credited with vocals on “But There’s Wolves (Orange).” This track has more bass and drum power than the last two, but Crescenzo’s vocals continue to remind me of Matthew Bellamy’s. This one has more of a Beatles feel to it, until they slow down and crank the power electric chords and then just blister the sound full of heavy bass and lead guitar solos.

She’s Always Singing (Yellow)

“She’s Always Singing (Yellow)” almost sounds like a 50s ballad, full of bass thud, drums, and those Springsteen–like keys, until we get some Beach Boys-like harmony from Crescenzo, Thorne, Jaron Eldon, and Kyle Garcia. It’s a nice combo of some of the best of the past while at the same time remaining very original in sound. That melody will just pull you in and make you think of summer.

Things that Hide Away (Green)

For me, this is the turning point on the album. Before this tuneyou might think this band was a straight forward indie or alternative band. This song slows things down and provides one of the best vocal performances on the album. They bring in harmonica, mandolin, and pedal steel guitar to add so much diversity and dimension to the sound. Morgan Santos cello adds even more emotion and power to the overall soundscape as Rachel Jorgensen’s soft vocals warm and comfort through one of the best lyrical pieces on the album. This is easily one of my favorites and a welcomed change in direction from the first four tracks.

The Canopy (Green)

This tune opens with wonderful electric guitar, percussion, and fast paced drums and bass that create a wonderful happy melody set to great lyrics. The harmonized vocals and country twang to the guitars takes you right to the fast flowing river pictured on the inside cover of the CD booklet. “Slow down, take time, and see the forest for the leaves / I know I should practice what I preach.”

Trapdoor (Blue)

“Trapdoor (Blue)” really slows things down to almost a slow waltz. Casey Crescenzo’s vocals on this one really bring back memories of Matthew Bellamy of Muse. In fact, I almost half expected to hear, “Together we’re invincible!” towards the end. The melody seems to be a great mix between Muse’s “Invincible” and “Unnatural Selection,” while remaining original in lyrical and musical content. 

What Time Taught Us (Indigo)
This is full of more cool programmed keys to open along with Casey Crescenzo’s best vocals. The drums pick up along with the rhythm as the pace quickens. This is another very Muse influenced track.
Lillian (Violet)

Casey and Judy Crescenzo are again credited with vocals on “Lillian (Violet).” Piano, keys, bass, and guitars build momentum along with saxophones, trumpet and backing strings. The sound is very orchestral and powerful as Crescenzo’s vocals rise and fall ala Bellamy again.

Home (White)

“Home (White)” has a Keane, “Somewhere Only We Know” feel and sound to it, without being a duplicate. The track has that momentum of building emotional power associated with Keane’s classic. Wonderful piano work mixes well with the guitar, drums, and bass.

Fall and Flee (White)

This is a bonus track. It features some of Crescenzo’s best vocals. This song has an original feeling and sound, but comparisons can be drawn with some of Keane’s earlier classics.

 
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