Solid Release, as Usual
Since the mid-1990s, Middlebury, Vermont’s Dispatch have been churning out earthy indie rock gold beloved by college radio and everyone’s “super chill” older cousin. The trio of Brad “Braddigan” Corrigan (drums/vocals), Chad “Chetro” Urmston (guitar/vocals) and Pete “Repete” Francis Heimbold (bass/vocals) have established such a cult following that, in 2004, their intended farewell, free, outdoor show drew over 110,000 people. In 2011, they reunited for a reunion tour, which later turned into a full reboot of the band, much to fans’ delight.
Dispatch’s quirky sound encompasses many different sub-genres, from rock and pop to folk and even country. Their newest album, America, Location 12, has all of that and more. It’s both mellow and intense, acoustic and electric, and overall quite fun to listen to.
America, Location 12 starts the party with “Be Gone,” which features a gnarly distorted guitar melody and foot-stomping drums in the chorus and mellow verses. All three members contribute vocal harmonies, which add a slight choral element. The default sound Dispatch tend to revert to is that of a roots-y 1970s jam band; but there are some surprises too. “Skin the Rabbit” has perhaps the album’s most fun riff and could fit in the Red Hot Chili Peppers catalog, while “Begin Again” is a Mumford & Sons clone. The lo-fi “Ghost Town” is another standout.
It’s a weird drawback to have, but somehow Dispatch manage to both combine genres into an original sound and yet create songs that are all too similar, at times. Though each of the album’s tracks sound great on their own, America, Location 12’s overall monotony means that the songs sound way less distinct when heard back-to-back. That doesn’t mean the band are lacking in creativity, but it does mean that the result of their experimentation yielded a cohesive sound rather than different sounds that were entirely separate from one another.
Dispatch have come a long way from their breakout hit ‘The General” back in 1997, and have evolved many times over their career. America, Location 12 is a good representation of who they are and what they’re capable of producing.