Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar

A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar

4.8 30
by Dashboard Confessional

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As you might gather from the title of Dashboard Confessional's fourth album, Christopher Carrabba still wears his heart on his sleeve -- or, more accurately, tattooed on his forearm. A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar continues the punk-inspired singer-songwriter's streak of obsessive-compulsive musings on relationships and how to wreck them. He's still apt to


As you might gather from the title of Dashboard Confessional's fourth album, Christopher Carrabba still wears his heart on his sleeve -- or, more accurately, tattooed on his forearm. A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar continues the punk-inspired singer-songwriter's streak of obsessive-compulsive musings on relationships and how to wreck them. He's still apt to strum out unguarded acoustic plaints like "Ghost of a Good Thing," but this time around, Carrabba ratchets things up a little in terms of sonic intensity. While not exactly pedal-to-the-metal in tenor, tracks such as the fretful "Am I Missing" and "Hands Down" (an adrenalized version of a tune he released on the So Impossible EP some years back) rumble along at a fairly energetic clip. Carrabba verges on alt-country territory on the doe-eyed "Carve Your Heart Out Yourself" -- a tune guaranteed to elicit the devout sing-alongs so prevalent at Dashboard gigs -- and really lets his hair down on the six-minute "Several Ways to Die Trying," a song that's as perfect a collage of Carrabba's scars as he's ever likely to display.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
By the time their third studio album, the cumbersomely titled A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar, was released in the summer of 2003, Dashboard Confessional had long been poised as the band that would bring emo crashing into the mainstream. Never mind that Weezer already did that, before this kind of music even had a name -- during the late '90s, while Weezer was away, emo became an underground phenomenon ignored by the press and built by word of mouth by sensitive teenagers eager for music that spelled out their feeling explicitly. Other emo bands were purer or rawer, but Dashboard Confessional had one thing in their favor: the band was essentially a showcase for its singer/songwriter, Chris Carrabba. Blessed with modelesque good looks, Carrabba is a heartthrob for the misunderstood, partially because of those beautiful features, but also partly because he is a more sensitive singer/songwriter than James Taylor, appealing to the anxious adolescent still learning how to navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of love. Nearly all emo is defiantly adolescent in its word and approach -- it disregards such niceties as melody, hooks, subtlety, and craft, favoring raw unfettered expression of emotion instead -- but where other emo bands get caught in the Sturm und Drang by bittersweetly concentrating on matters of the heart, Dashboard Confessional have a wider appeal, not least because the band is not so damn noisy as its emo brethren. Prior to this album, Carrabba was like all other emo songwriters in that he didn't so much write songs as put diary entries to music, adjusting the instrumental backdrop to fit the mood of his words, but never bothering to add in enough hooks to snare in somebody who wasn't already a fan or on a similar emotional wavelength. Here, he hires Gil Norton -- best known for his production of the Pixies' Doolittle -- as producer, and Norton draws hooks out of Carrabba's songs and gives color to his sound. This means A Mark is the most musical emo album and easily the most accessible, consistent record in Dashboard's canon, a record that doesn't push its emotion to the front, preferring to draw the listener in gradually. This is a notable improvement, at least in terms of general listenability, but it doesn't remove the fact that Carrabba's writing, like much of emo, is interminably adolescent. He's now writing more memorable songs, largely because he's learning how to construct hooks and melodies, but the incessant need to artlessly spill the contents of his heart limits his appeal. Unlike other masters of mercurial teenage moods -- whether it's Pete Townshend, Morrissey, or Rivers Cuomo, whose work continues to resonate as it and the listeners grow older -- Carrabba's work is so specifically stuck in adolescence that, even if it's presented in a prettier package as it is on A Mark, it's still very difficult for anybody past sophomore year in college to really connect with his music. [The album was also released with a limited-edition DVD.]
New York Times - Kelefa Sanneh
A remarkable disc that may become the year's most important rock record.
Rolling Stone - Rob Sheffield
Easily the toughest, most assured music [Chris Carrabba has] ever made, summing up the vulnerable charisma that has made him a cult idol for fans who crave the kind of emotional realness that has totally disappeared from the mainstream-rock assembly line.
Entertainment Weekly - Jim Greer
Credit Carrabba's ear for melody for A Mark's heartfelt heft. (B+)

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Vagrant Records


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A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
hands down this is the best cd i have ever remembered hearing
Guest More than 1 year ago
This cd is just as great as previous DC releases. There is a lot of energy that comes through as Chris Carraba straps on the electric guitar. From the fast paced opening song "Hands Down" & "Am I Missing" to the traditional acoustic songs "Ghost Of A Good Thing" & "As Lovers Go". Two of the best songs on the album have to go to "Rapid Hope Loss" and "Several Ways To Die Trying"-the latter which is 6 minutes that will blow you away w/ Carraba's amazing lyrics. This is definitely a cd that any fan of excellent songwriting should add to their collection.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow... I thought the live shows were great, then I got this. MMBS takes all of the last year of music and takes it to the next level. Developmentally speaking, the guys have come a long way since Places. Lyrically speaking, Chris still manages to put the same heartfelt words on paper, though this time covering a greater variety of subject matter. The DVD that comes with the album is amazing -- old and new music filmed in the studio and at the live shows in NYC and LA earlier this year. So up close and personal... a total must-have!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My review of the new release from Dashboard that its really good, although i like the old stuff better. The title to the c.d. to me has a lot of different meanings for example, "A mission" to reach the listeners and "A scar" to leave upon us when we listen to the c.d. and hopefully teach us the hardships of life and love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This cd has a different sound from the "normal" Dashboard Confessional sound, but I LOVE it! I was a bit skeptical at first about the full band backing up the acustic guitar, but it really works well and I REALLY like it! I HIGHLY recommend this cd to anyone who is a Dashboard fan, or even a bit skeptical of Dashboard because I think it can really change someone's negative opinions about them because it is different then the "usual."
Guest More than 1 year ago
well, everyone has been anticipating the release of their new album and all in all i loved it. although it was a little slow in some songs, i thought it was one of the best new cds. chris carraba shows time and time again how sensitive and well, almost perfect a guy could be through his love related lyrics. i really loved it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Oh man, really, whats not to love about this cd. Their voices are sounding way better then ever. and the guy are SO good looking. anyway. the cd has amazing songs on it. there so personal and the can talk to someone like you. GO BUY It
Guest More than 1 year ago
this new c.d i think is their best yet, i love it! def a worthy buy :-)
Guest More than 1 year ago
The lastest cd to come from Dashboard Confessional is an emotionally journey that all people can enjoy. Chris Carrabba's new lyrics hit notes that is music to everyone's ears. The first single to debut from this album, "Hands Down", gives you just a taste of what is in store. Most songs are folky reminding us of music from the 70's. There are great guitar riffs that are catchy and the voice harmonization is delightful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
amazing quality, amazing lyrics, amazing music in general. This is a definate buy no matter what type of music you listen too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is incredible! Its more upbeat than Dashboard's older stuff but it still has the same old emo lyrics! You definately need to buy this cd!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is by far Dashboard's best. I absolutely love every song on is definitely a must have!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i love this cd it rox!!!! hands down and as lovers go are my fav!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dashboard Confessional is a band with emotional rawness and pure talent, and Chris Carrabba just keeps getting better. This cd is not my favorite dashboard album (nothing competes with Swiss Army Romance), but its so good it deserves no less than 5 stars. Dashboard fans love the music because it is emotionally honest and real. This album incorporates upbeat songs such as "Hands down" and "hey girl", proving Carrabba's versatility as an artist. If you liked the older Dashboard cds, you'll love this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i don't need to list the many reasons why this album will be very popular with old and new fans, but i would love to tell people that there is no other band quite like dashboard confessional. and this album proves it. this cd is good to hear straight through with no skipping of any songs what so ever. songs like "hey girl" and "am i missing" have a very different sound, but still include the distinct guitar tabs and vocals of chris and bandmates. great album! buy 2 if that makes you feel any better. you never know, they might sound different. one for your car and one for your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, etc.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is something that I needed when it came to rock music. All the songs seem like they're a "I-hate-my-life" anthem. But Dashboard has shot back with an uplifting album, full of 100% real lyrics (nothing fake about them) and it's something that everyone can relate to and enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first heard the new 'Mark' c.d. I was a little jammed up. I thought "Great. He's gonna be a sell out." But the more I listened to it, really listen, I realize it still has the same energy the Chris puts out in all of his other songs.And I really started to like it alot. It's one of my favorite c.d.'s of his. Just a little more upbeat sound. I love the whole band sound, and love the new beats. Overall, it's just as good as everything else Chris has done, just different. I have loved Dashboard Confessional since they first came out, and will continue to support everything they do.( including Chris' new hair-do) ;)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best cd that DC has made. The lyrics are so raw with emotion that you want to cry. I have been a DC fan forever and when i found out they were coming out with a new cd i died. This cd will be the best you have ever heard. And it helps that Chris Carrabba is the sexiest man alive!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
How genius is Chris Carrabba? His lyrics are so poignant and witty. He has a way of making a personal song apply to all who listen and that's really hard to do. The musicianship of the album is excellent as well. Plus there's his unique voice that just adds layers and emotion that would be lacking with anyone else's.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well, contrary to some of the reviews this album is very good. One of the most appealing aspects is that Dashboard's songs are not infused with pop-lyrics,canned music, and voice overs. Things you find in rock, punk, and pop these days. This album is a breath of fresh air!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chris Carrabba is so romantic! He writes songs that you can relate to. Whenever I listen to As Lovers Go i want to be that girl. He is an unbelievable artist and i guarentee youll love this cd, especially if youve loved the others dashboard has done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar is undoutly one of the best records that has come out this year. Chris Carrabba invented the poetic/love/emo/punk with his first band Further Seems Forever, and has built on it with Dashboard. Hands Down is my favorite song on the album, but all the songs have good lyrics and meaning to them. If you're looking for a good band that always helps you up when your women puts you down... I'd definitally check D/C out because this CD rocks!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am totally bias when I give this for a couple of reasons. The first is I like emo music. So if you don't like it you'll hate this, because this is about as emo as it gets. The second is that they were the first emo band that I heard. So I do like it, though it gets really repetive, song after song. The acoustic playing, with little bass and drums with symbols constantly going. There are though some exceptions, like "Am I Missing" which has some good base, and I like "Morning Calls." Chris Carrabba (vocals) was in a band before DC, called Further Seems Forever, and i would highly recommend any of their albums over DC. Of course this is a great album though, it is i would say worth buying.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i started listening to Dashboard in 2000 and have been hooked ever sense. This band is bring so much emotion and feeling into their music, which is nice to see in this era of fake eragent sound-offs. Every track is as good as the next and every album never disapoints. If you ever listen to this CD you know you will buy it. It's that good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been listening to this band since 2 years ago, and gosh their song never gets old. A breath of air for our generation. This cd is great! So if you're planning to buy one of the cd of d/c .THIS is the one to buy.