Archive for the ‘Special Topics’ Category

In this series I attempt to categorize collaborative side-projects (where two or more members of previous bands form a new project together) into four categories: Match-Ups, Mess-Ups, Mix-Ups, Meh-Ups, and Blew-Ups.  Match-Ups are collaborative side-projects that just couldn’t be a better combination of awesome if they tried.  Mess-Ups are what I found the world to be better off without hopefully ever having heard from before.  Mix-Ups are not categorized because of their quality of music, but rather are considered Mix-Ups according to their puzzlingly preposterous and ridiculous sounding existence.  Meh-Ups are nothing special, and Blew-Ups are side-projects that blew up topping the Billboard charts and reaching contemporary critical acclaim.


Bad Books

Bad Books

Bad Books

Members:  Kevin Devin, Manchester Orchestra


Name Suggestion:  Great Beards

Bad Books is Kevin Devine and Andy Hull along with members Andy’s band Manchester Orchestra.  And it is exactly how it sounds: Manchester Orchestra with Kevin Devine.  Nothing more and nothing less, and trust me you really can’t ask for anything more from their magnificent blend of alternative, folk, beards, and indie.  I guess you could consider their songs typically more pop than either Kevin Devine or Manchester Orchestra’s previous works.  This would make sense as it seems that Bad Books reaches a more popular audience.  They’ve had plenty of radio play and their latest album II was even featured on Rolling Stone’s website when it first premiered.

The Falcon

The Falcon

The Falcon

Members:  The Lawrence Arms, Alkaline Trio, Rise Against


Name Suggestion:  The Best Sounding Joke

Let me spell this one out for you: Brendan Kelly of The Lawrence Arms and Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio are making songs… together, and they even managed to grab Todd Mohney (Rise Against) to play guitar and The Lawrence Arms’ drummer Neil Hennessy.  Before The Falcon, this is pretty much what every young Chicago punk had dreams about.  I’m also probably safe to say that, besides being drunk as shit, Kelly and Andriano were probably laughing uncontrollably throughout the entire recording process.  Honestly, that is probably why I still love listening to Unicornography so much.


Coke VS. Bills

Members:  Dean Southshore (AKA Matt Embree), John Mar Vista (AKA Joe Troy) of the Rx Bandits

Coke VS. Bills

The genius behind the Rx Bandits.


Name Suggestion:  Coke VS. Bandits

So, pretty much everybody except for the hippie who lives in the dumpster behind Cactus Willies agrees that Coke VS. Bills is a hilarious mess.  They are made up in part by the vocal/lyrical genius behind the Rx Bandits, Matt Embree, who shares the role of singing and drumming for CVSB, and Joe Troy, the bassist for Rx Bandits, who also shares vocals in CVSB as well as laying down da’ bass and some guitar (some guitar because CVSB is just that ridiculous).  CVSB only ever released one album entitled F*ck Your Face, and are the kind of folk who probably still maintain their Myspace page. They describe themselves as “Simple kids from Iowa. Peace, love, and Coke Vs. Bills. Emphasis on the peace and love and Coke Vs. Bills” who sound like “two dudes beating instruments to a bloody pulp while screaming at garage doors in quiet neighborhoods between the hours of 12 and 6 am” (which is all completely accurate).

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Members:  Swingin’ Utters, NOFX, No Use For A Name/Foo Fighters, Lagwagon


Name Suggestion:  The Coolest Middle-Aged Adult Males

Me First and The Gimme Gimmes is easily the best cover band in the entire world.  They take classic songs that have gained critical acclaim and a mass popularity and turn them into crappy Fat Wreck Chords-esque punk songs.  What more could anyone ask for really?  This super-group-cover-band consists of some of the best names on Fat Wreck Chords’ bill.  Spike Slawson (Swingin’ Utters) sings, Fat Mike (NOFX) plays bass, Chris Shiflett (No Use For A Name/Foo Fighters) is the lead guitarist, Joey Cape (Lagwagon) plays rhythm guitar, and Dave Raun (also of Lagwagon) sits pretty on the drums.  Even though the group has been around since 1995 and released five studio albums, three EPs, a live album, and much more, they haven’t actually played all that many shows for a band that’s been around for almost 20 years.  Me First and The Gimme Gimmes did manage to get booked for a run of three Pittsburgh Pirates games, but after being boo’d off the stage the first night they were asked not to come back for the next two.


C*nter (formerly Hunter)

Members:  Moneen, The Abandoned Hearts Club, Alexisonfire, Haitian Knife Fight


What are they all so angry about?

They seem awful cheery for a band called C*nter.

Name Suggestion:  Anything But C*nter

There’s no question that these are five very upset Canadians.  C*nter is just one of many side-projects between members of Moneen and Alexisonfire.  They are made up of bassist Kenny Bridges (Moneen vocalist), guitarists Billy Curtiss (The Abandoned Hearts Club) and Greg Dawson (Haitian Knife Fight), drummer Jordan Hastings (Alexisonfire), and vocalist Erik Hughes (Moneen bassist).  Not only does the band sound like a more brutal form of straight edge/hardcore, but their history is even rooted in getting screwed over and being ticked off about it.  After their first three releases under the name Hunter, a band of the same name threatened to file a lawsuit over the rights of their name.  Of course the members complied but not without leaving the deal even angrier than they were before.  In light of getting screwed over the band provocatively changed their name to C*nter (only without the asterisck).

~ D.B.

In case you didn’t understand that title, I’ll try to clarify. These are five albums that I really enjoy, and in fact have enjoyed for many years. For various reasons, though, I tend to forget that I love them so much. Sometimes it’s just that I listened to the album a lot in a specific period of time and it got overplayed; sometimes another album by the same band eclipsed it and made me forget about the original one. And sometimes I just plain forgot about it. Poor little album. Anyway, here we go. Ranked, in order of least-most forgotten about to most-most forgotten about (what?), from 5 to 1:

5. Dredg – Catch Without Arms


I consistently forget about Catch Without Arms, and I consistently love it when I remember it. It’s easily my favorite Dredg album—progressive yet poppy, pummeling at times and soft at others, complicated but straightforward, all at the same time. Gavin Hayes’ voice is great, and the instrumentation is top-notch. I’ve found that it’s also a great album for highway driving, for whatever reason.



4. Tiger Army – Music From Regions Beyond


This album got unfairly bashed on—the iTunes review goes so far as to call it “less than successful.” Okay, so it’s a little slicker, more produced, and synth-oriented than TA’s past records; I think it’s filled with awesome songs anyway. Maybe I forget about it because the first three Tiger Army records are more acclaimed. Or maybe because “Afterworld” reminds me of a certain fizzled relationship (not mine) that now seems silly. In any case, Music From Regions Beyond is solid, and too often forgotten by yours truly.



3. Saosin – Saosin


So much hubbub was made over original Saosin vocalist Anthony Green leaving to form Circa Survive that the resulting Saosin album, sans-Green, seems to go forgotten, at least by me. Also, this album got severely overplayed in my high school years, so I probably tend to skip over it nowadays because I heard it 324,829,384,709 times before walking into what’s-her-face’s Algebra class. That’s a shame though, because Saosin contains many of my favorite songs the band ever made.


2. The Receiving End of Sirens – Between The Heart And The Synapse


Also very high school for me, but a classic. The harmonies, epic song structures, tribal drums, Shakespearean/Grecian imagery and lyrics, and triple-guitar approach make this album a sort of post-hardcore rock opera without ever becoming cheesy or overdone. I liked this one a long time ago, so it’s just the passage of time that causes me to forget about it. A mistake, for sure. Also, I’m pretty sure that “The War of All Against All” is still one of my favorite songs ever.



1.  Box Car Racer – Box Car Racer


Without a doubt, the one and only album by Box Car Racer is the record that I simultaneously love and forget about the most. Randomly tucked into my iTunes library between The Bouncing Souls and Boys Night Out, the side project of Blinksters Tom and Travis remains some of the most solid work either musician has ever recorded. I put it on par with anything Blink ever released, surpassed only, I’d argue, by the almighty Self-Titled album. I don’t know if it’s because Box Car only ever released this one record, or because I listened to it until the parts were permanently melted into my subconscious; either way, I forget about Box Car Racer constantly, and it’s always a rewarding experience when I return to it.




The title of this little blurb may lead you to believe that I, esteemed OBR columnist, actually like Nickelback. This isn’t the case—while I can’t say I truly, deeply despise them, I don’t particularly like them either. Really I’m rather indifferent. In any case, I propose this question: why does everyone love to hate Nickelback?

Let me clarify. Perhaps a better question is this: why does everyone love to hate Nickelback specifically? If you ask me, there are reams of bands that sound like Nickelback, and theoretically deserve as much bashing. Don’t believe me? Hop on YouTube and listen to 3 Doors Down, Staind, Hinder, Breaking Benjamin, Daughtry, Shinedown, or Theory of a Deadman—just to name a few. I’m not saying any of those bands are terrible, or that any of those bands are great. I’m just saying they all follow the same general formula, so why hate on Nickelback specifically? They all use the same general chord progressions, throaty vocals, polished production value, wide-open drumbeats, and verse-chorus-verse structures. I’m not even saying those things are inherently bad things, I’m just saying that they’re formulaic across the board.

Somehow it has become a societal trend to hate Nickelback. If you know anything about music, the thinking goes, you must know that Nickelback sucks. You’re cool and informed if you bash on Nickelback. Somehow, Nickelback became the mascot for a hailstorm of hate on these modern mainstream American rock bands. That’s what I’m going to call Nickelback’s music from here on out—MMAR, Modern Mainstream American Rock. I have nothing against MMAR, not that I listen to it. I just don’t understand why it became so popular to hate on one MMAR band and not the others.

Speaking of genres, why does no one hate the bands that influenced Nickelback? Well, besides Creed… everyone hates Creed. Nickelback was originally considered “post-grunge,” meaning that in some sense they picked up the torch where Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Collective Soul, Blind Melon, Bush, and others left off. Does everyone hate those bands? No. They’re still super-popular. Granted, Nickelback took those influences and polished it up, making radio-friendly rock for the masses. You could call it a bit of a sell-out. But are Nickelback’s radio-ready songs any more polished and mainstream than anything by, say, Justin Timberlake or Taylor Swift or Maroon 5 or Bruno Mars? No one bashes those artists the way they bash Nickelback.

what-if-tom-brady-cloned-himself-and-then-married-herself-thumbI think Nickelback is like Tom Brady. If you don’t like them, you just love hating them. I don’t get it. Granted, I do have a bit of a man crush on Tom Brady, because he is literally everything I’m not—handsome, wealthy, and athletic. In fact, I’ve never understood why everyone hates Tom Brady. Is it because he’s good looking and wins a lot? Or because he dates and/or marries models and actresses? I know, I know—he’s a whiny little something-or-other, and not a real man. Let’s get in our lifted trucks and start blaring Motörhead and take pride in our teeth-fillings and our slimy tramp-stamped girlfriends.

Alright, rant over, even I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore. The point is, it’s not cool to be cool by hating Nickelback. You can hate them if you so choose, but you may as well hate 3 Doors Down, Daughtry, and all the rest of them while you’re at it. You can also love them if you so choose, and I won’t judge you, but you’ll probably get a lot of flak for it. If you like Nickelback, love the New England Patriots, and drive a lifted truck, the majority of the American populace probably wishes for your death. Good day!

~ J.M.  

[CONGRATS] Woohooooo!

Posted: January 17, 2013 in Special Topics

Some great friends of ours had a baby daughter, Josie, yesterday. Let’s assume they named her after this song. Congrats, guys!


~ J.M., D.B.

In this series I attempt to categorize some notable collaborative side-projects (where two or more members of previous bands form a new side-project together) into five categories: Match-Ups, Mess-Ups, Mix-Ups, Meh-Ups, and Blew-Ups.  Match-Ups are collaborative projects that just couldn’t be a better combination of awesome if they tried.  Mess-Ups are what I found the world to be better off without hopefully ever having heard from before.  Mix-Ups are not categorized because of their quality of music, but rather are considered Mix-Ups according to their puzzlingly preposterous and ridiculous sounding existence.  Meh-Ups are nothing special, and Blew-Ups are side-projects that blew up topping the Billboard charts and reaching contemporary critical acclaim.


Peace’d Out

Members:  The Movielife/I Am The Avalanche, Rx Bandits, The Velvet Teen, No Motiv

Music: &

Name Suggestion:  Peace’d Awesome

Peace’d Out could’ve only been made two ways: by some glorious accident, or my freshman-year-of-college-self’s imagination.  This unmatched lineup consists of guitarist Steve Choi (the guitar aficionado of the Rx Bandits), vocalist Vinnie Caruana (The Movielife/I Am The Avalanche), drummer Casey Deitz (The Velvet Teen), and bassist Roger Camero (No Motiv).  Peace’d Out brings with it the complexity of experimental and math rock and runs it head first into a train, all the while under the commentary of Vinnie Caruana’s boisterous, punk yell.  Choi describes his guitar contributions to the band as a “long studio version of freestyling.”  The boys released a high-intensity five song self-titled EP in October of last year and are currently working on a full-length for a release sometime in 2013.


Tim Landers and Brad Wiseman of Misser

Tim Landers and Brad Wiseman of Misser

Members:  Transit, This Time Next Year!


Name Suggestion:  Missed The Boat if You Haven’t Heard

In early 2011 vocalist/guitarist Tim Landers (Transit) had plenty of songs written over the years that didn’t quite make it into Transit’s catalog.  He got together with vocalist Brad Wiseman (This Time Next Year!) and put out the three song Problems. Problems. Problems. EP on their own under the name Misser.  In 2012 they released the full-length Every Day I Tell Myself I’m Going To Be A Better Person through Rise Records, and immediately the positive reviews started pouring in.  The combination of the two pop-punk powerhouses, Transit and This Time Next Year!, proved to make for an angsty and driven take on the genre.  Landers’ ability to be provide gruff as well as clear vocals and Wiseman’s uniquely distinct voice makes for the perfect combination.  Oh, Landers also got fellow Transit bandmate and extremely talented drummer, Daniel Frazier, to record drums on the album, which only makes me enjoy it that much more.

The Sound of Animals Fighting

Members:  Rx Bandits, Saosin/Circa Survive, Finch, Days Away, Good Old War, The Autumns, Chiodos, The Hippos


Name Suggestion:  The Sound of Epitaph, Equal Vision, and Drive-Thru Records’ Best Musicians Getting Along

For all of you OBR readers who’ve been living in a bunker since 1999 in fear of Y2K and only recently surfaced, I’ll go ahead and briefly explain what you’ll be listening to non-stop for the next couple of months.  Taking the most similarly unique and talented vocalists from the early 00’s and backing them up with a band made up of both the Rx Bandits and former Finch members, Rich Balling’s infamous progressive-supergroup was born.  The incredibly powerful creative force that came from a lineup including Matt Embree (Rx Bandits), Anthony Green (Saosin/Circa Survive), Keith Goodwin (Days Away/Good Old War), Craig Owens (Chiodos), and Matthew Kelly (The Autumns) just to name a few, released three albums and only played a hand-full of historic shows before going dormant in 2009.  Their sound is generally accepted as progressive/experimental rock, but songs can range anywhere from the more prog-standard “Act I: Chasing Suns” to snyth-ballads like “The Heretic” and even onto the chaotic “Horses in the Sky” to name a few.


The Lulls in TrafficThe Lulls in Traffic

Members:  Copeland, Ivan Ives


Name Suggestion:  The Lulz in Traffic

Once Copeland called it quits in 2010, many wondered what was next for the huge force that is lead-singer Aaron Marsh.  Unfortunately, Marsh met up with rapper Ivan Ives and got the grand idea to start a project that was both electronic/indie as well as hip hop.  With a name like The Lulls in Traffic, one would hope that they would be reminiscent of a Gloria Record song of the same name, but that is just not the case  Although Marsh’s voice is in a lot of ways similar to The Gloria Record’s Chris Simpson, the electronic hip-hop beats and Asher Roth sounding rap cut-a-ways make for an odd and almost unlistenable combination for most Copeland fans.

Head Automatica

Members:  Glassjaw, Dan ‘The Automator’ Nakamura


Name Suggestion:  Head Automatica-lly Hits Wall Repeatedly Upon Hearing What Daryl’s Done

Head Automatica started when Glassjaw vocalist, Daryl Palumbo, and Dan ‘The Automator’ Nakamura (hip hop producer for acts like the Gorillaz and Depeche Mode) met at a party and Daryl mentioned that he had written material that didn’t really fit into Glassjaw’s catalog, and I couldn’t have agreed more.  Maybe it’s because of Daryl Palumbo’s distinctly infamous sound in Glassjaw, but to hear his voice overtop of any type of instrumentation other than crashing prog/post-hardcore just sounds ridiculous to me.  It’s for this same reason that I find it hard to listen to some of the more vocally-ridiculous Say Anything songs.  I guess that type of “stretching vowel sounds and singing noises that aren’t words” vocals over pop-punk/alternative instrumentations just isn’t my cup of tea.


Members:  New Found Glory, Relient K, (feat. Paramore)domestikated


Name Suggestion:  Domesti-Quit-It

This message from one-half of the band, Ethan Luck (drummer of Relient K) on the concept of the project says it all: “A while back, Jordan Pundik (vocalist for New Found Glory) and I had a conversation about late 70’s & early 80’s punk rock. We were wondering what those “anti-whatever” guys would sing about now, if they had new bands. Of course, there are plenty of things in the world now that punk bands could write about. But we came to the conclusion that most of those guys are probably very domesticated! They mow their lawns, take the trash out, pay their mortgage, go to parent/teacher meetings, etc. Jordan and I thought this wold be great content for a punk band. Let’s be honest, if you knew Jordan and I, we are insanely domesticated. I’m in the middle of painting my house right now! … Last but not least, a big thanks to Hayley Williams for providing the voice of “Becca” on the song “What’s His Name!”  Ethan, Jordan, and Hayley also put out a cover of the “Bed Intruder Parody” from 2010 that is equally as much of a Mess-Up [].

Notable Mentions: D.R.U.G.S., Black Lungs, The Cinema

~ D.B.

“Why would anyone ever want to be screamed at?”

That, dear readers, is my mother’s thoughtful assessment of screamo, hardcore, metal, and the like. Whatever you call it, Momma Bear doesn’t understand hard music with screaming. She thinks the vocalists are screaming at us, the listeners. I try to explain that they’re not screaming at us, they’re screaming at the world, at their problems, at injustice, at stupidity, at females, at whatever. And the point is that sometimes our own aggressions can mirror theirs, and it can be cathartic or something like that. Or we just like the way it sounds.

In any case, she hates any music with screaming. I played some Norma Jean songs in the car for her once. She insisted that it wasn’t really music, and that she could in fact “do that,” meaning scream the way vocalist Cory Brandan does, so therefore it was nothing special. I chuckled and tried to explain that in the grand scheme of things, Norma Jean is practically soft compared to some bands. Then I played a Converge song. She just rolled her eyes.

The majority of modern alternative rock type of stuff is out as well. A Perfect Circle garnered this response: “Who taught this guy how to sing?” Never mind that Maynard is one of the most respected singers in modern rock, and probably ever. An epic Tool composition elicited an even blunter response: “I hate this type of music.” So prog-rock stuff is clearly out—The Mars Volta, Coheed & Cambria, Porcupine Tree—all total fails. When I played a softer song by the latter, she actually kind of enjoyed it, until the vocals came in. So I guess British accents are a no-go as well.

Rock, alternative, punk, prog, metal, screamo—all terrible, in my mom’s opinion. So what does the woman like? You may be surprised to hear that she does actually enjoy a decent amount of stuff released within the past couple of years—but I’ve figured out that it either has to be basically pop music, or stuff that sort of sounds like it came from her generation.


Case in point: The Gaslight Anthem. When I was first spinning their breakthrough disc, The ’59 Sound, in my car, my mom’s ears perked up. “Who are these guys?” she inquired innocently. She likes them, because the whole point of that album was that it was engineered and mixed to sound like it could have been made in, well, 1959. She likes some Band of Horses tracks, too, probably because they have that Neil Young/Creedence type of vibe going on sometimes.

Then you get to the huge bands like the Chili Peppers, Coldplay, and Dave Matthews Band. Let’s get real—all moms enjoy jigging around to “Viva la Vida.”  For some reason she also enjoys “Reckoner” by Radiohead. This would lead me to believe that the really popular arena-playing bands are usually what she likes. But dear mother likes to throw a curveball here as well, because it doesn’t always hold true. She thinks Counting Crows sounds terrible, and reggae-influenced stuff like 311 is “druggie music” (although she may not be too far off with that one).

Further curveballs appear: she absolutely loves “Missed the Boat” by Modest Mouse, but if you play any of the old MM stuff she’ll laugh at it. Same with Against Me!. Their last album, White Crosses, prompted her to praise Laura Jane Grace’s (formerly Tom Gabel) voice quite highly, but when I played an older punk song of theirs she refused to believe it was even the same singer.

90s music is a mixed bag as well. Mom enjoys some of it—The Wallflowers, Hootie and the Blowfish, Gin Blossoms—but bands like Pearl Jam or Bush are generally met with sneers. There’s no point in even trying out Nirvana or the Pumpkins.

The point is, I just can’t figure out what my mom likes, exactly. She just likes what she likes and dislikes what she doesn’t. Some pop stuff, some “indier” stuff, some rockish stuff. But there’s never any clear-cut boundaries. After she made me link Hoobastank’s “The Reason” to her desktop for quick listening, I gave up trying to suggest good bands. More recently, though, she asked who the band was after I’d played an Alkaline Trio song. GAAHHHH! It’s mind boggling.

~ J.M.

As it turns out, the three albums I’ve picked have no album titles yet, or even as much as a concrete release date. I’d like to think that this only heightens the anticipation, though.  Yeah.  That’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

Bad boys? Who are you guys kidding?

Is that my Dad’s garage?

Alternative:  Jimmy Eat World

Considering this album is most likely to be released first in my list for 2013 and there is still so little actually known about it – I’m wildly surprised.  I always find it fascinating when bands have their new material leaked unintentionally before the release date, whether it be by some computer-network-savvy fan or an inside job by the label.  It seems, though, that Jimmy Eat World is playing it smart by staying relatively quiet throughout the whole writing, recording, mixing, and now mastering process of their eighth studio album.  Fortunately we do know two things: they are without a label, and unlike most unsigned bands the engineer/producer, Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures), isn’t just some kid with Pro Tools and a “studio” in his parents’ attic.

Punk:  The Story So Far

Look at all of those pop-punk sheep.

Look at all of those pop-punk sheep.

It’s been about a year and a half (June 21, 2011) since the release of The Story So Far’s debut full-length, Under Soil And Dirt, and like everyone else that listens to anything even remotely close to pop-punk, I’m still listening to every track.  To read that many are saying their upcoming sophomore album could leave a mark in not only the pop-punk community but the alternative genre as well is pretty impressive for a band without a Wikipedia page.  Since Under Soil And Dirt took at least a good six months to really grab any attention outside of their fan base, I can only expect the same for this upcoming release.  Luckily, if there is one album in 2013 that I don’t have to worry about being a flopping mess it’s this one.  Even if The Story So Far only reach the most minimal of expectations, this sophomore debut will still leave a hot and steamy mark on pop-punk.

Post-Rock:  Moving Mountains

Moving Mountains (and their furly beards)

Moving Mountains (and their furly beards)

Drawing direct influence from the huge powers known as Thrice and labelmates The Appleseed Cast, I’m surprised Moving Mountains aren’t a whole lot more popular than they are currently.  They certainly haven’t been hiding in the studio until recently.  Touring almost non-stop for two years with anyone from The Fall of Troy to Straylight Run would get the attention of a whole slew of scenes, but it’s my hopes that their first full-length since May 2011 will get them all the attention they deserve.  Josh Kirby will be replacing guitarist Frank Graniero on Moving Mountains’ third full-length which could prove to be a risky move since Frank recorded guitar on the their last three releases (Foreword, Waves, and New Light).  Luckily, founding members Gregory Dunn (vocals/guitar) and Nicholas Pizzolato (drums) are still on the bill and will, almost without a doubt, be able to blow my mind away for a third time.

~ D.B.

As a longtime fan of Dashboard Confessional, and one who isn’t a 16-year-old girl, I’ve heard my share of ignorant comments, often followed by a prolonged groan:

“Dashboard? That’s that whiny tattooed guy, isn’t it? Ugghh.”

“That guy’s such a wimp. Let’s go cry ourselves to sleep. Ugghh.”

“That emo gasbag! Ugghh.”

What do all of these comments have in common, aside from being completely half-witted and irrelevant? They all focus on Dashboard’s frontman, Chris Carrabba. When people think of Dashboard Confessional, they picture Chris. With his doe-eyed good looks and fancy tattoo sleeves, Carrabba tends to steal the show—and there’s no question that Dashboard Confessional would be nothing without him. I would submit, however, that Chris’s teen-heart-melting presence tends to overshadow the people behind him—people who definitely deserve some limelight, especially Dashboard’s drummer, Mike Marsh.

Say what you want about Dashboard’s “emo” (whatever that means) roots and Chris Carrabba’s shrill ruminations on relationships. But please, never—NEVER, dear OBR readers—question the skill or professionalism of one of my favorite drummers, Mike Marsh. I would contend he remains one of the most underrated and underappreciated drummers in all of rock music. As a drummer myself, I think I have at least a little prerequisite to tell you how good he is. I apologize in advance if I start “nerding out” about drum stuff that no one understands.

Mike Marsh 1

Talented, professional, good loo–I mean, nice guy.

Let us begin with one of the first Dashboard songs I ever heard, “As Lovers Go.” It begins with the drum part, unaccompanied at first by guitars or vocals. As a young, naïve drummer, I was blown away: a jazz-style pattern in this music? More than a simple straight eighth-note beat on the ride cymbal? Don’t even get me started on the ghost notes on the snare or the hi-hat work in the pre-choruses. This stuff was revolutionary to 14-year-old me, and it remains just as impressive now as it was back then.

Go back even further, to the first Dashboard album I ever owned—2001’s The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most. Songs like “Saints and Sailors” and “Again I Go Unnoticed” wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the solid drum tracks bolstering them. In fact, the latter track has a purely acoustic rendering on The Swiss Army Romance album, and it falls miles short of Places’s version, if you ask me. Marsh’s quick drumming in the song drives the track along with energy and muscle.

In later Dashboard albums—2006’s Dusk and Summer and onward—Marsh has developed a wonderful minimalist style, letting his simple but solid beats and consistently high-quality drum sounds speak for themselves. Take mega-hit “Stolen” as an example; yeah, yeah, it’s a radio pop song, essentially, but I don’t care. Listen to that drum track! The way Marsh rations the bass drum during the verses, and only introduces the hi-hat afterwards, shows an incredible patience and musicality.

The minimalism continues: Dashboard’s most recent album, Alter the Ending, features Marsh’s tasteful percussion throughout. “Everybody Learns from Disaster” demonstrates Marsh maintaining a simple four-on-the-floor beat with the bass drum while playing some nice hi-hat parts over top of it. If you’re a real geek, check out the snare roll that takes Marsh out of the first chorus into the next verse. The beautiful little maneuver happens at the one-minute mark in the song. Perfection!

Alright, I’ll stop. There are plenty more examples—I could go on and on. If you don’t feel like listening to these songs, all one really needs to do is check out Dashboard’s performance of “Hands Down” on Letterman to see the power and energy Marsh contributes to the band. Ignore Chris’s silly haircut. Why, look, a convenient link!

Don’t dismiss Dashboard’s other members, either—I bet you didn’t know that talented bassist Scott Schoenbeck was a longtime member of legendary 90’s emo group The Promise Ring. Dashboard guitarist John Lefler is irreplaceable, and has a burgeoning solo career to showcase his musical prowess. And of course, our friend Chris deserves plenty of credit for his own guitar and songwriting skills. The point? Keep those silly comments to yourselves, Dashboard hecklers, and give some credit where credit is due! Especially to the talented and underappreciated Mike Marsh.

~ J.M.


Wait, this has nothing to do with the post. Oh well, we’ll just leave it.

Mandy* (aka The Overly Obsessive Girlfriend)

Relationship: March 2011 – Roughly May 2011

It was obvious from the very beginning that Mandy* was going to be a handful.  Her first post on AJ’s Facebook wall was two smiley faces and a heart (or :] :] <3).  If that wasn’t enough to arise suspicion consider her next post only moments after, “Phone died but I’m on my way home now ! I’ll text you when I’ve got my charga ! Have fun, tonight :]”  Only a few days after this it couldn’t be more infinitely clear that Mandy* was the overly obsessive girlfriend.  She filled AJ’s Facebook wall with posts ranging from the standard “<3” to pictures of her and her cat to literally dozens of videos in a matter of few minutes.  This would be almost a daily occurrence throughout their relationship.  From the number of times AJ would respond to these shit storms of posts (very few), I would venture to say that he could’ve done without them.

cat breading




Underneath the kindly positioned cat face, to the left, lies a truly terrifying “duckface” posted to AJ’s Facebook wall late one night by Mandy* in March 2011 with an equally terrifying caption that read, “Wake up to THIS, tomorrow !”


Song: “Miscommunication” – War Paint (July 2011)

It was not very surprising that this overly obsessive girlfriend would end up so angry at their relationship’s abrupt conclusion.  In “Miscommunication” AJ takes a different perspective, lyrically, almost every word in each verse, the entire bridge, and even part of the chorus, is spoken lyrically from the upset voice of Mandy*.

Fb example


Although Mandy* was extremely obsessive, she was also with AJ during in interesting time for such a personal lyricist, while he was recording The Dangerous Summer’s sophomore full-length, War Paint.  They would Skype regularly, and Mandy* was even known to give feedback to AJ on new lyrics and material for the album via these video chats.

Pictured to the right is what seems to have been a half-serious “miscommunication fight” that took place one, particularly annoying, evening on AJ’s Facebook wall.


Carla [Woodburne] Perdomo (aka Quite the Crumpet)

Pick up your spoon before it's too late, Carla.

Is that spoon floating?

Relationship: June 4, 2011 – Present

AJ and Carla made it “Facebook Official,” as they say, in the beginning of June 2011 just as AJ had returned home to the states from a decently long tour in the UK.  It was on this tour where he met Carla at a show and would marry her in the middle of September of that same year.

Song: “No One’s Gonna Need You More” – War Paint (July 2011)

While writing The Dangerous Summer’s sophomore full-length, War Paint (July 2011), AJ tweeted that he was making “a real American love story” that would come to be known as “No One’s Gonna Need You More.”  It wasn’t until after this song was written that he met his wife, Carla, but before playing the (at that time) unreleased track for the first time at Warped Tour 2011 he introduces the song [ 8:20-8:27] as written “about the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen in my entire life… no joke.” If you’ve ever seen AJ’s Tweets since he first started dating Carla (i.e. “I have the best looking wife ever.”), you’ll know without a doubt that this song, although not intentionally written for Carla, is certainly about AJ’s wife Carla Perdomo.

In case you didn’t figure it out, all the asterisks (*) signify the fake names we made up in order to protect the real girlfriends’ privacy, although we clearly left their actual faces.

~ D.B.


Wait, this has nothing to do with the post. Oh well, we’ll just leave it.

Daria* (aka The High School Girlfriend)

Relationship: ? – Roughly December 2009

daria and AJ

Sandals with a suit? Whatcha thinkin’, son?

These two were together until sometime shortly before the recording of The Dangerous Summer’s first full-length album Reach For The Sun (May 2009). There could be references to Daria* in The Dangerous Summer’s earlier EP, If You Could Only Keep Me Alive (September 2007), seeing as though most of the songs were written during AJ’s high school years, but it’s not obvious enough to make any connections.

Jamie* (aka The Siren)

Relationship: Roughly December 2009 – September 2010

lol and AJ

Good times in the van.

AJ and Jamie’s* relationship could be a bit rocky at points, but as AJ tweeted in March 2010, “Me and Jamie* break up all the time, but so do Coldplay, and they’re one of the richest bands in the world.” They seemed to communicate through Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging quite often during their relationship, considering AJ was away on tour almost constantly throughout their relationship.

Song: “Where I Want To Be” – Reach For The Sun (May 2009)

If you can get through more than twenty seconds of this interview without stabbing the cameraman through the cornea with a rusty spoon, at 10:17-10:57 AJ explains the lyrical content of “Where I Want To Be.” In short: Jamie* “pulled [AJ] out of the relationship” he was in with ex-girlfriend Daria* at about a year and a half before the interview (or just before the recording of Reach For The Sun).

Sad Face Steph

A quick thought: less time taking selfies equals more time to clean that dorm room!

Then on September 2, 2010, Jamie* posted this ambiguous sad face on AJ’s Facebook wall, which was followed by a tweet from AJ three days after explaining, “I think I’m single for the time being. To understand, you must spend time alone.”

Song: “Siren” – War Paint (July 2011)

When War Paint was first released, like many, I had a sneaking suspicion “Siren” was written about Jamie*, but when I ran across a certain chatroom on in which a guest blatantly asked “Is Siren writte[n] about Jamie*?” and after which AJ simply answered “yes,” I was certain it was about AJ’s falling out with herthus answering my (and apparently a few others’) pointless suspicions on the subject.

In case you didn’t figure it out, all the asterisks (*) signify the fake names we made up in order to protect the real girlfriends’ privacy, although we clearly left their actual faces.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

~ D.B.