Dashboard Confessional and the top singer-songwriters of 2001

Mike Schoeck

The music industry fostered several worthy singer-songwriters that sprung out during the tremulous year of 2001. Sure there are worthy singers, diva hopeful pop stars, boy bands and rap-metal teeth-barred bands in the media glow, but only a select few would be regarded as true songwriters for the year in rock.
Solo artists bearing emotion on sleeve recording and performing intensely live are this unique brand of heartfelt rock songwriters. This artist makes a unique solo presence through the thoughtful crafting of often gut-wrenching lyrics through pop melodies of all speeds. Now strewn out in no particular count are 2001’s outstanding songwriters of the rock genre.
3. Pete Yorn – “musicforthemorningafter” – Garden to Golden State resident Pete Yorn debuted with a slurred and lower-case title. Yorn’s sound is acoustic-tainted rock with some looped effects and beats. His texture ranges from the jagged, charging pace of his single, “For Nancy,” to a mellow, often dragged folk and ballad caliber with “Sleep Better” and “Life on a Chain.” This blend helped the songwriter land work laying the score to “Me Myself and Irene” and appearing on “Songs from Dawson’s Creek Vol. 2.” Yorn has the wrenching stance of modern singer-songwriters while staying in the same league as new band Five For Fighting or even Train.
2. Badly Drawn Boy – “Hour of the Wilderbeast”- More experimentally twisted but slightly more apt to having the Springsteen aura of sentiment in lyric and melodies than Yorn is Badly Drawn Boy. Also known as Britain’s Damon Gough, the songwriter took the year off, as did indie-folk trendsetter Elliott Smith. “Wilderbeast” topped charts with monstrous proportions on XL Recordings and earned him the prestigious British Mercury Prize for Best Album. Smith is back in the studio after last year’s “Figure 8” broke the Earth and established his second album on Dreamworks Records. The new project to be released in the Spring is aptly titled “From the Basement on the Hill,” and will be produced by Smith only.
1. Dashboard Confessional – “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most” – Falling not far from the same tree as Elliott Smith is Chris Carrabba, called Dashboard Confessional. With a modest career singing at the front of emo band Further Seems Forever, the Florida shore native began kicking his act solo at the tail of 2000. Onstage with a pulsed swaying acoustic guitar and still a pulsed punk rhythm, Dashboard can’t help but bring you to awe or tears, depending on your mentality. He’s distinctly a one-man emo band onstage, and has the craft of songwriting reminiscent of the solo Smith, just without the witty folk guitar fingerstyle.
By no means is a Dashboard song a teen angst borderline pathetic cry song like the hard rock trend lately with bands like Staind. Carrabba’s repertoire has been penned “stripped down sadcore” by fans and critics. His style is sophisticated and strictly emo-punk.
He is one of the slick-greased haired, studded or grummet belt adorned patrons and stage-sharers with a ripped off thrift shop t-shirt, dark tight jeans and plenty of ink and piercings. It’s no wonder that the presence of Dashboard among this past summer’s Vagrant Across America tour was a perfect fit for the emo bill alongside label-mates Saves the Day, The Anniversary and Hot Rod Circuit.
Dashboard Confessional is very unique. For the eclectic fan he’s the answer for a solo acoustic artist as a definitive persona of punk. For any old punk, emo or hardcore fan he’s kind of like a more basic yet sophisticated songwriter of melancholy songs with the same pace and tone as standard emo acts.
His array of plugged-in acoustic guitars onstage resonate perfectly every word on the Drive Thru traded to Vagrant label debut record “The Swiss Army Romance” and this year’s “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most.” Somehow lyrics like this are mirrored and related to everyone’s experience of heart-break or trauma early into the main swing of your teen years.
In “The Best Deceptions” a gulp should grip you hearing these words belted out in a voice sounding distinctly like a prom-date seeker’s heart was just crushed: “Don’t you see / Don’t you see / That the charade is over? / And all the ‘Best Deceptions’ and ‘Clever Cover Story’ awards go to you / So kiss me hard ’cause this will be the last time that I let you / You will be back someday / And this awkward kiss that tells of other people’s lips / Will be of service to keeping you away.”