Dashboard Confessional

Ah, the punk-turned-acoustic balladeer. It seems to be a common affliction--those angry rockers who suddenly unplug their electric guitars to become sensitive singer-songwriters. I suppose you can trace it back to Billy Bragg, through Bob Mould in his post-Hüsker Dü days and via Nirvana's Unplugged album, right up to the present, with Elliott Smith, Damien Jurado and even Ryan Adams.

And now Dashboard Confessional--a "band" that, in reality, is just one guy, Christopher Carrabba. A mainstay in the Florida emo scene, Carrabba turned his back on his punk past, recording Dashboard's debut full-length, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, with nary an electric guitar to be found. What it does have are 10 heart-wrenching tales of relationships, breakups, love and loss. With songs like "Screaming Infidelities" and "This Bitter Pill," you know this is not some happy-go-lucky walk in the park.

And somewhere along the way, Carrabba became heartily embraced by the nation's punk-rock kids, with each live show turning into a singalong event. Maybe mark it down to a shared experience in the minefield of young love, but Dashboard Confessional has definitely hit the right chord.

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Jason Reynolds