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Alternative & Indie - Released February 9, 2018 | Fueled By Ramen

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Chris Carrabba eased into an eight-year hiatus after the 2009 release of Alter the Ending, stopping to moonlight in the folk-stomp outfit Twin Forks but generally avoiding the open-hearted, open-ended emo that had been Dashboard Confessional's stock in trade. Carrabba has no compunction about embracing sensitivity on Crooked Shadows, a brief LP that revives Dashboard Confessional's signatures while simultaneously polishing them to sound shiny and new. Ultimately, the latter instinct overwhelms the former, turning Crooked Shadows into some fashion of emo easy listening, but this mellowing is perhaps the inevitable second act for an unabashedly sentimental singer/songwriter like Carrabba. While he can still harness his full-throated wail -- it's there on the opener, "We Fight" -- and will not avoid a surge of volume or intensity, Carrabba at his core is a romantic, writing melodic songs about all manner of love won, lost, and unrequited. Writers like this lend themselves to softer, supple production, which is generally what Crooked Shadows offers. Even the impassioned moments -- the shoutier choruses or the ones with noisier guitars -- feel controlled and measured, acting as complements to songs that are cozy in their familiar contours. Perhaps Carrabba still writes lyrics in broad terms, but this willingness to sculpt his sounds on the softer side indicates that he's discovered a way to sustain this allegedly adolescent music well into his adulthood. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Vagrant Records DC

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 31, 2020 | Hidden Note Records

Twenty years after their 2000 debut, beloved emo act Dashboard Confessional issued a greatest-hits collection, Best Ones of the Best Ones. Taking its name from lyrics on "Stolen," the 20-song set culls tracks from their seven studio albums, a pair of EPs, and an endearing MTV Unplugged performance, providing a perfect snapshot of the band's career and an ideal place to start for any budding fan of Chris Carrabba's earnest, angsty style. When they emerged in the early 2000s, Dashboard's songs were derided by non-fans as overly sensitive and whiny, the pinnacle of the emo wave that soon splintered apart as the scene's fans veered toward both hardcore and indie sounds. Yet at the time of its release in 2020, the songs on this compilation remain relevant and relatable in their simplicity and focus on heartbreak and undying devotion. Their 2001 sophomore effort, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, receives the most representation here, with a full quarter of the album's runtime taken by fan favorites like the title track and their most recognizable song, "Screaming Infidelities." 2006's Dusk and Summer, their highest-charting effort, gets four nods, including a pair of singles ("Don't Wait" and "Stolen") that were their only songs to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Other notable inclusions come from their 2003-2004 mainstream peak with "Hands Down" from A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar and big rock hit "Vindicated" (originally from 2004's Spider-Man 2 soundtrack and later included on Dusk and Summer). Their late era albums -- including their only LP released in the 2010s, 2018's robust Crooked Shadows -- are acknowledged with a handful of selections, but, for the most part, the spotlight remains on the first half of the 2000s, their most definitive period. Two decades after Carrabba first strummed Dashboard to life with just his voice and a guitar, human emotions remain messy and hearts continue to break. Best Ones of the Best Ones makes the strongest case for just crowning Dashboard Confessional the kings of 2000s emo. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 18, 2017 | Hidden Note Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2007 | Vagrant Records DC

Dusk and Summer -- a cohesive album divergent from the modern-rock collection of songs on 2003's A Mark, a Brand, a Mission, a Scar -- finds Dashboard Confessional's path to maturity leading them, weirdly enough, back to their roots. Whether or not this is a reaction to mainstream success, Dashboard is still very much a full band, but the album is gentler and falls much closer to the feeling of The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most. Not only does it include more tracks with simpler arrangements that occasionally now include piano and violin, the general sonic vibe resembles more of its earlier work, just more seasoned. Though the lead track and single, "Don't Wait," has one of the most grating choruses on the album -- and the song also owns a weird underlying air of "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer -- the remainder of the suitably titled Dusk and Summer is very much full of satisfying heartfelt anthems that reflect its early evening beach artwork. Chris Carrabba's lyrical touchstone is again dominated by relationships, but that invigorating first date from 2003's "Hands Down" must have really taken off, since broken-heart brooding only appears sparingly. The gentle "Stolen" is a beautifully sincere song where the repeated "You have stolen my heart" is so tenderly spoken, it's like Carrabba is taking care to not wake his sweetheart sleeping beside him. Leaving one's hometown is delicately reflected upon in the piano-tinged "So Long, So Long," where Counting Crows' Adam Duritz provides wonderful guest vocals, while the band proves it can rock out in tracks like "Reason to Believe" and "Rooftops and Invitations." And damn if "Slow Decay" isn't the dirtiest, darkest song Dashboard Confessional has written to date ("Heaven Here" might have been a contender with its trashy percussion, but the song quickly goes soft and remains a muddled mess that never quite gets worked out). Dashboard Confessional may have been embraced by the masses with the über-success of Spider-Man 2's "Vindicated," but Dusk and Summer doesn't care about that. It's an album from a matured Carrabba (now in his early thirties) directly to his grassroots fan base. He may have grown beyond six-strings and a wooden stool, but when the result is this good, who can really complain? ~ Corey Apar
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 21, 2019 | Dashboard Confessional

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 21, 2019 | Dashboard Confessional

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 17, 2002 | Vagrant Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 9, 2018 | Fueled By Ramen

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Pop - Released August 12, 2003 | DGC - Interscope

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 20, 2001 | Hidden Note Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 21, 2019 | Dashboard Confessional

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2009 | DGC - Interscope

Other musicians have rounded out its lineup from time to time, but Dashboard Confessional has always been the brainchild of Chris Carrabba, the most sensitive raven-haired rocker this side of Morrissey. Like Morrissey, Carrabba has built a career upon heartbreak; unlike Morrissey, he's never had a band as a strong as the Smiths to give his songs the right amount of lush, electric kick. As a result, Dashboard Confessional's best moments usually occur whenever Carrabba consolidates his strengths and functions as solo musician, from the more intimate moments of his MTV Unplugged performance to acoustic-based albums like The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most and The Shade of Poison Trees. 2009's Alter the Ending finds him reprising his role as frontman, though, yielding a track list that includes some fine songs but couches them in uninspired arrangements. It's testament to Carrabba's songwriting that these tunes fare far better on the bonus disc (available as part of the album's deluxe package), where they're played on acoustic instruments. Add a three-piece band to the mix, however, and you're left with hooks that suddenly feel clichéd, lyrics that try too hard to evoke a sense of teenaged abandon ("We lit the van with dreams after the sun burned into cinders"), and electric guitars that lack the trebly energy of their acoustic counterparts. Returning fans may take comfort in these cathartic anthems, but those who were won over by Poison Trees -- a return-to-form effort that combined melody with more nuanced arrangements -- will prefer the deluxe edition's acoustic disc. ~ Andrew Leahey
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 2, 2007 | Vagrant Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 3, 2018 | Fueled By Ramen

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Pop - Released March 1, 2000 | Hidden Note Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2009 | DGC - Interscope

Other musicians have rounded out its lineup from time to time, but Dashboard Confessional has always been the brainchild of Chris Carrabba, the most sensitive raven-haired rocker this side of Morrissey. Like Morrissey, Carrabba has built a career upon heartbreak; unlike Morrissey, he's never had a band as a strong as the Smiths to give his songs the right amount of lush, electric kick. As a result, Dashboard Confessional's best moments usually occur whenever Carrabba consolidates his strengths and functions as solo musician, from the more intimate moments of his MTV Unplugged performance to acoustic-based albums like The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most and The Shade of Poison Trees. 2009's Alter the Ending finds him reprising his role as frontman, though, yielding a track list that includes some fine songs but couches them in uninspired arrangements. It's testament to Carrabba's songwriting that these tunes fare far better on the bonus disc (available as part of the album's deluxe package), where they're played on acoustic instruments. Add a three-piece band to the mix, however, and you're left with hooks that suddenly feel clichéd, lyrics that try too hard to evoke a sense of teenaged abandon ("We lit the van with dreams after the sun burned into cinders"), and electric guitars that lack the trebly energy of their acoustic counterparts. Returning fans may take comfort in these cathartic anthems, but those who were won over by Poison Trees -- a return-to-form effort that combined melody with more nuanced arrangements -- will prefer the deluxe edition's acoustic disc. ~ Andrew Leahey
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 15, 2017 | Fueled By Ramen

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 12, 2019 | Fearless Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 19, 2018 | Fueled By Ramen