Friday Discussion: Bands Who Broke Up Too Soon

by Zack Zarrillo - Apr 5, 2013

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There have been an unfortunate amount of breakups over the past few months - maybe even more than normal. It’s always a bummer when we are forced to say goodbye to our favorite bands, so we thought it’d be great to do a PropertyOfZack Friday Discussion on Bands Who Broke Up Too Soon (and released two or less albums), in the eyes of our staff members. Check out our list below and feel free to reblog with some of your most missed and beloved bands as well!

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Tigers Jaw, by Zack Zarrillo
Tigers Jaw’s upcoming breakup is bittersweet. For years, both fans and people on the inside of the industry said, “This is their year.” We waited and waited, and in many ways their breakup will forever keep us waiting. The band put out two fantastic full-lengths, a great split with Balance & Composure, and numerous other releases over the years. They never quite took advantage of it though. College, life, and what appeared to be disorganization got in the way time after time. We’re currently watching bands like Balance & Composure and Touché Amoré quickly climb their own ranks, and Tigers Jaw should be right there with them - but they’re not. Watching a Tigers Jaw live set was and will always be a special experience. You get wrapped into the set, you feel young, and you feel light. It’s a shame we won’t get to continue that experience with the band after the coming summer.

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The Format, by Erik van Rheenen
Oh, the bands we lost in the name of Fun. Jack Antonoff jumped off jangly indie-rock darlings Steel Train to tackle guitar for the project, and jack-of-all-trades Andrew Dost parted ways with experimental folk outfit Anathallo. But the loss that smarted the most for music fans was knowing that once singer Nate Ruess started the band, The Format was pretty much dead to rights.

As fantastic as Fun. has proven to be,  the band hasn’t quite bottled the spastic theatrics and romantics that became the calling card of The Format. Ruess cut his teeth as a bombastic frontman on the duo’s indie pop debut record Interventions + Lullabies in 2003, but 2006’s Dog Problems is a surefire masterpiece. Ruess and multi-instrumentaist Sam Means sounded synergistic on lush tracks like “Oceans” and “Inches and Falling,” and if you hear the early Queen-ish leanings from Some Nights on the title track, you’re probably not just hearing things.

Aim and Ignite and Some Nights are nearly-flawless cuts of Ruess’s flair for songwriting, but how could Means and Ruess have tag-teamed a follow-up to the sweet slice of crazy that was Dog Problems? Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll never find out.

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Acceptance, by Erik van Rheenen
What the hell ever happened to Jason Vena? Besides a guest spot on an Ivoryline tune and a cameo on All Time Low’s “Outlines,” one of the most top-notch vocalists in the alternative rock scene up and disappeared with Acceptance. And it’s too bad, since Vena and company look to be doomed to one-album wonder status with just Phantoms to their name. But oh, what a one album it is.

Layered guitars and Aaron Sprinkle’s gentle producing touch abound on the record, which debuted on Columbia Records in 2005. That major label pressure is one that most bands cave under, but Acceptance rose to the challenge on Phantoms, a catchy, poppy album laden with massive hooks and moody attitudes. Vena’s vocals are the clear highlight, belting pristinely over ballad “Different” and killer “So Contagious.” It bottled the pop rock genre at its purest and finest.

It doesn’t look like Vena is too keen on the idea of taking up the Acceptance mantle for one more spin, but besides a couple EP’s, fans are at least left with one album that’s pitch-perfect for road trip sing-alongs.

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Daytrader, by Adrienne Fisher
The major tell-all sign that Daytrader was on the rocks came in pretty surprising form, as halfway through a fall tour with The Jealous Sound, vocalist Tym announced that he was leaving the band due to personal and creative differences with the other members. An inevitable drop from the tour came next, followed by an official declaration of quits about a month afterwards. So why was it too soon? Bands and their members butt heads and break apart all the time, and Daytrader, while demonstrating some notoriety in the scene, weren’t necessarily pillars of support

The biggest disappointment in Daytrader’s breakup ultimately exists in the full-length record that was released only about six months before the end. Twelve Years, simply put, emphasized a big step in songwriting for the band, both in maturity and style. Pegged as somewhat of a pop-punk band in the early days with a demo 7” of basement punk songs, followed by the more refined Last Days of Rome EP that came out on Run For Cover, the band certainly demonstrated their capacity for writing a killer hook as well as songs with some serious melodic substance. Twelve Years, which was a Rise Records release, saw the band spinning all they had accomplished so far into a solidly cohesive full-length, executing flawlessly what I can only describe as the trademark forlorn Long Island/New York vibe (please reference the Brand New record of your liking). And it’s awesome.

Unfortunately, the record only saw a few months of live treatment. After it’s release in May 2012, the band toured sparingly; a few Zumiez dates with the Wonder Years, a few shows with the Early November, some Canadian cities with Living With Lions. The most extensive tour planned to support the record was the one they were on when they began to fall apart - and their dissolution unfortunately ensured that kids all over the country (and the world) would never get to hear some of Daytrader’s best work live. A definite disappointment, and a sterling record that regrettably will not catch the due recognition it deserves.

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Hidden in Plain View, by Adrienne Fisher
A classic New Jersey pop-punk band borne out of the early 2000s, Hidden in Plain View got the best and the worst of Drive-Thru Records when it came to their legacy - putting out a gem of an EP and an emotionally driven rock-flavored full-length with the notorious label. Their end followed a few years after Life in Dreaming, the aforementioned full-length, was released in 2005, petering out on the momentum from that record and citing their breakup to, you guessed it, creative and personal differences. HiPV had their due time touring and enjoying the spotlight trained on them, and as far as career misses are concerned, their breakup occurred after a follow-up full length was recorded, but not before it was released. Resolution was put out posthumously in 2007, and while the idea of records hanging around from ghost bands is definitely a sad one, it’s certainly not regarded to be their best or most important work. 

The idea that Hidden in Plain View broke up too soon probably comes more personally for me than anything. They were one of the first bands that I remember seeing tour regularly through my hometown, and one of the first bands that I began to support WHENEVER they came through my hometown. My musical history has a lot to do with growing up with them, and some of my fondest local scene memories are based around going their shows in the Lehigh Valley. I remember being 16 years old and getting my lip bashed bloody after a mic toss from Joe Reo, the same night that my friend was crowdsurfed through a ceiling and I never saw shows booked at that hall ever again. I remember “Eyes Like a Target” as my go-to “I hate dudes and also everything” place for AIM profile lyrics, and I remember crying out in joy when I heard the line for the first time in “Halcyon Daze” that mentions Allentown. I could rant and rave about the rare emo genius captured in melodramatically angsty songs like “Garden Statement” or “Ashes Ashes,” or about the time that I sprained my ankle at a ska show and STILL somehow talked my mom into driving me to see Hidden in Plain View the next day, hobbling on in on crutches. I grew up a lot with this band and simply put, I wasn’t ready to let them go - especially without a proper goodbye. But, their recent social media activity and a fresh pressing of Life in Dreaming on vinyl has definitely got me wondering if there’s anything next for them - and if there is, I’ll be there with bells on. 

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At the Drive-In, by Josh Hammond
Comparing what the demise of At The Drive-In was like to anything or anyone else in the music industry is nearly impossible. The news of the split would appear both sudden and unpredicted, shaking their loyal fan base with devastation paralleled by the likes of Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith’s suicides. With the breakup coming at such a critical moment in both the timelines of the band’s career and the snowballing movement of a growing hardcore scene, At the Drive-In’s split would put a wedge in nearly everything it touched. Having built a sense of popularity regardless of a reputation of going against the grain, their no bullshit, theatrical live show and passionately aggressive approach to creating albums would not so easily be replaced. Put simply, the band was anything but a peg in the hole of the industry. 

Despite splitting into a handful of respected and embraced follow-up projects, none would have the impact or the reach of At the Drive in. Any true fan of music must wonder in the back of their mind what would have come of At the Drive In had they simply had the time and the support of thelikes of Mars Volta. Having ended on the cusp of breaking their career wideopen, it seems rather plausible for At the Drive In to have reached levels comparable to Rage Against the Machine. However, to play devil’s advocate, extending their career might have also left them with Smashing Pumpkins syndrome. 

All we can do is wonder. 

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Straylight Run, by Josh Hammond
Sometimes in music you piss people off. In fact, John Nolan has made a career out of burning bridges. However, the silver lining is that the ashes of those fallouts generally turn out to be pretty epic albums. (For example, do a quick Google search to compare Brand New’s “Seventy Times Seven”to Taking Back Sunday’s “There’s No ‘I’ in Team.”)

That same spiteful approach to songwriting would become the driving force of Straylight Run. Conflicts of interest and personal loyalties would quickly turn into creative differences, forcing Nolan to depart from the band. Straight off of their split fromTaking Back Sunday, Nolan and company would air both their personal and professional laundry in a series of clever and passionate songs. Numbers like“A Slow Decent,” “Sympathy for a Martyr,” “It’s For The Best,” and “Mistakes We Knew We Were Making” would reflect on the struggles and angst that accompanies the commitment to a promising music career. With raw and candid lyrics, written in letter-style form, Nolan’s Hail Mary confessionals would reach listeners on a level most songs never approach due to the level of vulnerability in their content. 

Sadly however, songs like “Existentialism On Prom Night” never managed the anthem status they were owed due to insufficient label support and exposure from both Victory and Universal Records. Eventually, this apathy would do Straylight Run in, leaving them to call it a day. Regardless of the lack of industry support, fan loyalty was not only present but remains to this day, as collections of steadfast sad bastards spend their days clamoring for one more album. 

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My American Heart, by Michael Meeze
San Diego alternative rock outfit My American Heart may never go on a sold-out ten-year anniversary tour. The masses may never consider them an “influential” band. Their sound may never be copied (it was never that original in the first place) and their name may never be enshrined by music scribes on future PropertyOfZack websites. But My American Heart is one of the best scene bands most casual fans have never heard of. Their 2005 debut, The Meaning in Makeup, showcased a band with youthful zest and a bratty attitude. Yet, it was The Meaning in Makeup’s 2007 follow-up, Hiding Inside the Horrible Weather, that marked a maturation and lyrical sophistication that its predecessor lacked. Their sophomore release also features one of the best emo ballads of the new millennium: the emotive, introspective “All My Friends,” which still hits as hard as ever. Regrettably, My American Heart never reached its true potential, effectively calling it a day in late 2008, leaving a fan base in mourning and a legacy unfulfilled. 

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Something Corporate, by Michael Meeze
Time is fleeting, and ultimately, frustrating. As each year passes since 2006 and a new generation of music fans rises to prominence, memories of former piano-punk kings Something Corporate, fade into the cultural fog. Yet, for those of us who lived the glory days of Drive-Thru Records, before Jack’s Mannequin even entered into the airwaves, Something Corporate ruled from Poughkeepsie, New York to Orange County, California. Their brash, anthemic 2002 classic debut Leaving Through the Window featured college-radio mainstays, “Punk Rock Princess,” “I Woke In a Car,” and “If You C Jordan.” And when it came time for a follow-up, Something Corporate countered with the musically seasoned and lyrically despondent, North: an album that still sounds as fresh today as it did in 2003. However, despite the success of both albums, and one of the largest and most devoted fanbases in the alternative scene, Something Corporate disbanded 2006, reuniting only for a fleeting one-off reunion tour in 2010. Close your eyes, though, and you can still hear their lullaby in your room…and it is still as striking as ever.  

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Men, Women & Children, by Jesse Richman
When post-hardcore progenitors Glassjaw took a mid-decade hiatus, media and fan attention stayed locked on vocalist Daryl Palumbo and his new project, Head Automatica. But for my money, just as good as that band was guitarist Todd Weinstock’s new act, Men Women & Children. Born out of a collaboration with vocalist TJ Penzone, Men Women & Children’s brand of sassy, synthy electro-pop couldn’t have been further from Glassjaw sonically, but proved just as adventurous, incorporating elements of disco (both italo and the classic American variety), funk, glitchy tweaked-out synth-pop, and hard/alt rock into a truly unique sound.

Men, Women & Children only released a single self-titled album in 2006 before disbanding amidst label issues and a general lack of interest from the public, but that album still stands as maybe the best, and certainly the weirdest, party album the scene has produced. Racing dance-punk numbers like “Lightning Strikes Twice In New York” run headlong into the squiggly falsetto-funk of “Photosynthesis” and the beautifully schizophrenic “The Name Of The Train Is The Hurricane”; the one consistent thread that runs throughout is a good-time mood that extended to the band’s live shows, full of props, choreographed dancing and full-audience conga lines.

Men, Women & Children could have been Cobra Starship with heart, but by the time the scene began to embrace unserious fun, they had called it a day. If only. Since then, the band have gone their separate ways; squaring the circle, MWC bassist Richard Penzone (brother of TJ) is now collaborating with none other than Daryl Palumbo in the new band Color Film. Matt Pinfield would have a field day with that shit.

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  6. taking-back-deanna reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    Ouch. This is how I find out that Daytrader broke up? :*-(
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  9. lifeisuniversal reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    Sydney, Dead & Divine, Lifestory:Monologue.. to add some from the Ontario scene.
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  16. wearetheabnormality reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    I knew Acceptance would be here as soon as I saw the title. Come back. We miss you.
  17. madsilentist reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    Oh MW&C, I’m glad someone else appreciated you like I did. I wish you’d reunite and make more, fun music.
  18. stealingsailboats reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    The Riot Before Spraynard This Time Next Year Desaparecidos (even though they’re semi-reunited now)
  19. anothermessivemade said: Acceptance should have never broken up. I still listen to them and there isn’t one week i go without listening to the Phantoms album.
  20. trytokeepitdown152 reblogged this from propertyofzack
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