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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Thievery By The Dashboard Light?
Friday, July 07, 2006

Albums have had similarities since day one, but in 2006 with copyright laws protecting nearly everything that has grown past its idea stage it’s getting rarer to see the straight copying of someone else’s work (except during high school testing periods). This is what makes my most recent discovery so strange. Yesterday Dashboard Confessional’s latest album, Dusk and Summer, arrived in the mail and on first look it reminded me greatly of my friend Jim Wolf’s No Sleep What-So-Ever album, which was released in 2005. Wolf is an up and coming artist from Fairfield, Connecticut, who I’ve known for a few years now, but is it possible that the Dashboard Confessional folks jacked his album cover art? The answer is a surprising yes.

OK so I know what some people might be thinking, why on earth could a huge group like Dashboard Confessional even be checking for Jim Wolf? Well, apparently a little over a year ago one of Wolf’s former roommates personally gave Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional a copy of No Sleep What-So-Ever hoping that he’d like it and maybe want to work with Jim. Carrabba never called, but now a year later his latest album’s cover bears and uncanny resemblance to Wolf’s release. Both artists on featured on a beach with the water in the background. Both artists are walking to the left hand side of the picture. Both have skylines featuring fluffy white clouds. Both artists seem to have a slight white glow around their heads. And heck, if you really want to get all conspiracy theorist about the situation both albums are also ten songs in length.

So was the cover art stolen? It’s hard to say. Lots of albums come out with similar cover art. A good example of this would be T.I.’s Trap Muzik and Joe Budden’s self titled release.

Both these albums feature red lettering over black and white photography. Unlike with the Wolf – Dashboard situation, however, the T.I. and Budden albums came out within only a few months of each other (Budden released his album on June 3rd of 2003 while T.I. released Trap Muzik on August 13th). With a timetable like that it’s highly unlikely there was any theft involved, just two similar concepts that happened to coincide.

Not only is the timetable of a much greater length with the Wolf – Dashboard situation, it’s known that Dashboard’s lead singer had a copy of the album. All that being said I can remember times that I’ve thought I was having an original idea only to later find out it had been in the annals of my memory from way back when and I was simply drawing from it without even realizing it.

I would like to think this is the case with Carrabba and his group, that after he saw, and listened to, Jim Wolf’s album he stored it in his brain and when it finally came time to decide on cover art he had the picture in his head of Wolf’s cover. It could have gone something like “hey I remember this great picture somewhere of a guy on a beach with some clouds overhead and he had a faint white outline around his head. That would look great for my album.” If that’s what happened it’s an honest mistake and honest mistakes do happen.

If, on the other hand, Carrabba knowingly took Wolf’s cover art, well then he’s simply an unoriginal low life degenerate. It would also make song number four on the album, “Stolen,” have a much deeper meaning than simply falling for a girl. I like to think the best in people, though, so hopefully it was the former rather than the latter. Regardless, Dusk and Summer may not have thank you’s in the liner notes, but Carrabba owes Jim Wolf one gigantic shout out.

According to the old saying imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery, but something tells me that in this case Jim Wolf is feeling more flattened than flattered.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:29 AM  
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