Is The Greatest Vaporwave Project of All Time Secretly a Rock Band?
Rebirth in Reprise
There are certain defining traits we can look to when trying to qualify the sound of vaporwave. Samples, appropriation of recognizable brands, great loops, pastel-based color palettes, hard to come by physical releases, and a Bandcamp presence are just a few of vaporwave’s core components. What if we told you there was a rock band that had all of these?
The Dear Hunter – not to be confused with Deerhunter — are a rock band originally from Providence, Rhode Island – now based out of Port Angeles, Washington — renowned for their ambitious album concepts, as well as the ability to seemingly mix genres at will to great success. Founded by former The Receiving End of Sirens vocalist/guitarist, Casey Crescenzo, the group has churned out an incredible array of inspired music, creating some of the best tunes, well, ever. The most well-known of their projects is The Acts, a five-album story spanning the life of a young man as he repeatedly makes poor decisions. There is also The Color Spectrum, an “album” consisting of 9 separate EP’s each covering a color on the visible spectrum, as well as black and white, with the intent of pairing a specific sound to a specific color.
That’s all well and good, they’re a very talented band. So what? What’s all this got to do with vaporwave? Well, it just so happens that the band adheres to many of the same principles as those artists that create vaporwave. Let’s dive in.
One of most commonly cited tenets of vaporwave is that of sampling. While it may play less of a role these days than it did in the movement’s infancy, it’s still very much a part of the scene. And this happens to be a practice The Dear Hunter adheres to. Honestly, we could come up with hundreds of examples, but we’ll just cherry-pick a couple. Let’s start with a track off of the closing album in their Acts story, Act V: Hymns With The Devil In Confessional. The closing track of the album, “A Beginning” is both a narrative and musical crescendo. A somber, retrospective on every track that led to this point in the story, the song concludes with a beautiful piano melody that runs from the 5:26 mark to the track’s conclusion. But what if we told you this piano piece was STOLEN. That’s right, you can find the very same piano piece on a completely different song by a completely diff…well, by a band. The melody can be heard in the song “Vital Vessels Vindicate” by a rock band called The Dear Hunter.
Starting at 5:43, you will hear the same piano track. Coincidence? Unlikely. And that’s to say nothing of some melodies that show up on Act V that are slightly changed from where they might be in their original form. A song titled “The March” on Act V has an eerily familiar vocal piece to it. Starting at 2:32 you hear the lyrics:
Was that there’s far too many ways to die
Far too many ways to die
Now those lyrics on their own could describe any number of songs, but if you compare it next to the sample of the source material, it sounds like it might be completely lifted from a track that existed prior to Act V. It’s eerily similar to a segment of the song “The Old Haunt,” (starting at the 1:01 mark) which as it turns out it sampled from the same band that made “Vital Vessel Vindicate.” That’s right, that track also comes from The Dear Hunter. Clearly, this band has a particular group they like to lift samples from.
Loops are another mainstay of the vaporwave movement. Look no further than some of the earliest pieces, like “Nobody Here” to get a feel for it. And that’s a feature of vapor music that, much like sampling, may not be as essential as it once was, but it’s still very much a part of things. For a perfect example of this let’s look at the track “A Night on the Town” off of The Dear Hunter’s Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise. The track opens with a blaring, in-your-face guitar riff. But here’s the thing, once the riff concludes, they play it again. I mean, do we even need to say anymore?
This one’s a little trickier and took some exhaustive investigative journalism on our part. There are certain brands intimately associated both with vaporwave music, as well as its general aesthetic. Brands such as Arizona Iced Tea, or the example we’ll be talking about now: Fiji Water. The iconic square packaging is the defining trait of the brand, but you know what the next most important thing about it is? Water. And there are multiple references to water strewn throughout the band’s discography. Let’s look at the album art for the Blue EP off of their Color Spectrum project.
Sure looks an awful lot like water to us. Just like what you can find inside of a coveted bottle of Fiji. What’s more, for anyone familiar with the geography of Fiji, it’s an island. And the above picture appears to be of a coastal region. A coastal region that might itself be an island.
But not so fast, we’re not done with that artwork. If you notice there are also quite a few shades of blue present in that artwork, some of them even look pastel. And as we know, pastel blues and pinks play a huge role in the vaporwave aesthetic. And wouldn’t you know it, they’ve also used pastel pinks before. Recently, a vinyl box set of all of The Acts was released, which included newly redesigned artwork for the first three albums. And on the album art for Act I: The Lake South, The River North, if you look hard enough you can find some pastel pink. We’ve taken the liberty of blowing up the image for you and circling the suspect area, don’t thank us.
Now, of course, not every vaporwave artist is required, nor are they necessarily expected to have a Bandcamp page. But having one doesn’t hurt. And wouldn’t you know it, The Dear Hunter has a Bandcamp page. Sure seems suspicious to us if they’re not a vaporwave group.
We think it’s safe to say we’ve provided ample reasons why you could make the argument that the greatest vaporwave act of all time is actually, secretly, The Dear Hunter. If you can’t arrive at the same conclusion that we have after this much irrefutable evidence, it’s out of our hands, but we hope you arrive at the same conclusion that we have.
Happy April 1st to all of our dear readers here at Utopia District! What’d you think? Did you fall for this for even a second? No?
Well, if you’re interested in digging a little deeper into what The Dear Hunter is really about, we’ll include some helpful links below. They’re a pretty incredible band -this writer’s favorite music group of all time in fact- and they deserve as much attention as they can get!
The Dear Hunter
Copy Editing By: DJ Nonn