Third Time’s the Charm

Posted on 19 January 2011 by dubs

Who Cares
Teenage Ego Trip

(Independent release)
Words by Blake Gillespie

When I was introduced to Who Cares, I heard a group with the purest of intentions struggling to craft music beyond the traditional hip-hop realm, while not betraying its beloved culture. I’ve always admired the courage in a group that was willing to make a song as heavy as “Heaven Ain’t That Hard” and follow it up with a Bambaataa-esque throwback like “They Killed the Radio” with Egyptian Lover.

Despite my admiration, there was a glaring struggle in identity that I always perceived as heavy-handed and off-putting. It was as though Who Cares might function better as two entities, one that loves trans-European electro-party jams and one that is meant to be heard during a rainy-day self-reflection session. Who Cares’ third record, Teenage Ego Trip, released last month, is its finest to date. With the help of an engineer and studio guidance, the album also serves as the resolution of the aforementioned identity crisis.

Easily the wisest move Who Cares made in crafting Teenage Ego Trip was pulling Dusty Brown into the project as its engineer, contributing producer and co-writer. His fingerprints leave evidence throughout the long player as he employs the same trademarks that made his This City Is Killing Me EP an instant classic. With Dusty behind the boards, Who Cares resolved its clash in styles found on the previous CD-R the group peddled at shows. Teenage Ego Trip is rich in texture, featuring a studio band intent on boastfully marauding for abstract sound pieces typically reserved for the likes of Damon Albarn and his Gorillaz project. This makes previous Who Cares efforts sound like skeletal demos; it’s as though the past years of songs were written in order to achieve this sort of breakthrough.

Subtle and lush, no song is without nuance in style that is not only rewarding, but adequate in placement–no tricks for the sake of flare–nor are the instrumental affairs exaggerated or embellished. In the past you could have made a case that Who Cares was wanking off a bit, or that a different perspective was relying too heavily on its virtuosity–take your pick. The choicest amount of care is given to production. Take, for example, the snare drum intro on “Cherry Boy” that’s run through filters, muting the percussion to a pitter-patter that, once refashioned, creates a pop to the instrumentation as Ernie Upton, aka Fernie Fresh, comes in with the vocals. The Who Cares style of old haunts the record in small doses: grandiose sax solos are fed as distant radio transmissions. Young Aundee’s falsetto crooning is employed sparingly, not to suggest it should be, but “These Three Words” is given room to breathe and earn its electro-outro that features an Aundee refrain, instead of forcing a vocalist into a boom-bap production or customizing the boom-bap and running the risk of the cursed “crossover” scarlet letter.

Who Cares is well past its juvenile days of rewriting Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s “T.R.O.Y.” a dozen times over. The transformation is strictly from a sonic perspective as Fernie Fresh maintains a deep connection with the disenfranchised and half-broken in his lyrics. Teenage Ego Trip is a well-constructed teddy bear for the latchkey kids and survivors of broken homes that took to the seedier side of life and are seeking to do better with their days and weeks. Perhaps it’s time to heal the gloomy demeanor of the Who Cares bear cartoon, give it a congratulatory pat on the back and put a crooked smile on its worried mug.

Who Cares’ Teenage Ego Trip is available for free download online at

Words by dubs

Categories Reviews   Tags ,,,,,,,,

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Old Ass Comments


Can’t wait 4 the new CD xD

I LOVE DGD!! <3333

April 28th, 2008 at 4:33 pm

I’m glad you guys kicked the old singer out if that’s the shit that went on

I love you dudes =D

haha, I just listened to “The Backwards Pumpkin Song”

April 28th, 2008 at 11:59 pm

you guys are really amazing. but no one will ever be able to do vocals like johnny. but i also hope that your music will still be amazing regardless. oh and when i saw you guys live last week you all seemed like jerks. no lie.

April 29th, 2008 at 3:53 am

Nice interview, this mag is popping off lately.

April 30th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

you big idiot it says right there that jonny left on his own. he wasnt kicked out

May 26th, 2008 at 4:02 pm

release the CD now please.

May 27th, 2008 at 11:05 am

the band wont be the same without jonny i wish he hadnt left but still my fav band, and the new cd is pretty good :)

August 20th, 2008 at 12:50 am

it really sucks that none of the old band members are in dgd now
they all quit and got replaced. i just really hope these guys keep everything the same because dgd is my favorite band and without them my life would be miserable. dgd rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

August 22nd, 2008 at 12:44 am

yeah i agree with what almost everyone here said. i was disapointed when johnny left but im really glad that kurt has been able to keep it going on the same track.

also disapointed that no original members are in it but i still consider DGD my favorite band of all time.

will has a tiger main :D

September 3rd, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Amazing Amazing AMAZING! Just started listening to them and I can’t get enough. One of my favorite bands by far. <3

October 6th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

What the hell? WHAT THE HELL?

mark said: “also disapointed that no original members are in it but i still consider DGD my favorite band of all time.”

kellen said: “it really sucks that none of the old band members are in dgd now
they all quit and got replaced. i just really hope these guys keep everything the same because dgd is my favorite band and without them my life would be miserable. dgd rocks!”

If you guys were really fans, you’d know Will Swan was always one of the two guitarists, and Matt Mingus was always on drums. Plus Will Swan was always the one who wrote the music…so what the hell? All the members haven’t quit. I really can’t believe you guys believed such nonsense.

Having Jonny Craig in the band would have been degenerative in the end anyway, and live performances would suck because they wouldn’t be a group. They’d be Jonny on one side and the rest on the other. They have to be a unit, not a division.

The main person I don’t understand leaving is Jonathan Mess…he left pretty much directly after the album was done…I suppose there was no point leaving when they were in the middle of an album, but surely he could have done a few tours and then left? He just left without reasons given to the fans. I guess he has his own reasons.

October 7th, 2008 at 7:00 pm

even if he was an asshole, he was still an outstanding vocalist.

October 13th, 2008 at 10:23 pm

even with all the drama he’s an amazing singer I’m glad he found a place like Emarosa to display that.

October 17th, 2008 at 7:52 pm

jon mess, got sick, so he left

November 10th, 2008 at 3:02 pm

i heard a completely different story as to why jonny left..

December 18th, 2008 at 2:15 pm
Bang Bang

Jon Mess left the band with no official announcement and what so ever, that sucks man. only 2 original members are there, so who’s going to leave next? damn.

December 22nd, 2008 at 11:29 am

Ok so heres what i see
Yall were my first show
and by GOD you were amazin
and Eric
wow i was amazed
Yall just made me focus
on music me and my band loved the sound
so thats what we base are
crap off of Its sad how
Matt and will are the only
two left
I hope the band becomes better but
yall really shoulda let jonny
back in the band cause kurts sound
isnt made for Dgd
But i must implie
Jonny is cool and all but
he shoulda just chilled well
now yall are playin warped tour
with out Jon mess
and kurts screamin isnt all that great neither
is wills and
The new CD was good
but im tellin you
even though jonny had no chance
It sucks
and With out Jon mess
you cant do half those
new songs……
or THe ORIGINAL stuff

January 14th, 2009 at 12:52 pm


February 7th, 2009 at 8:50 pm

the old singer was and is a much better singer
and these guys have destroyed the name of dance gavin dance

February 23rd, 2009 at 7:14 am

Emarosa was better of without jonny, they seemed to just chill back and let jont sing instead of playing. jonny mixed so well with Gavin. nuff said

April 1st, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Yeah i really liked downtown battle mountain and then the self titled album or deathstar album came out and i was severely disappointed. but then the happiness album came out and i was pretty amazed :) but yeah i didnt really know that johnny craig was like that. he kinda seems like he would be though, saying that he was worshiped at the age of 15, i read a little bit about him. i really liked his singing but i guess hime leaving was the best thing for the band to continue creating music.

February 1st, 2010 at 11:20 am

Also i really like Wills screams, they are really good on happiness album

February 1st, 2010 at 11:23 am

im a HUGGEE efffin fan ;)
only thing is… Jonny had the
best mother effffiiin vocals in history
yooou guys are INCOMPLETE now.. D: i think you
all should just friggen work things put :)

September 9th, 2010 at 8:38 am

Honestly speaking old dgd was amazing and had an original sound, I could literally listen to it all day. I like the new album but honestly i prefer downtown battle mountain and what ever you say is royal ocean. But for some reason i feel like happiness is what they wanted to do all along

October 5th, 2010 at 10:38 am
Honcho Mcducket

I have known Eric for a long time it’s sad that he isn’t playing anymore with dgd. Disappointed he wasn’t on fuel tv with the band also. Craig was a dick Especially after the laptop incident, he should have just stuck with Emarosa or ghost runner on third. He was toxic to the band,I wish all the best to the remaining members though.

April 9th, 2011 at 7:17 am

Internet Fame

[...] a cakewalk into the mainstream-or most likely all three. Guitarist Sean O’Sullivan, formerly of Dance Gavin Dance, attempts to explain the chronology of events leading to this spring’s release of Signs and [...]

April 20th, 2009 at 2:59 am

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