After calling it quits supposedly forever with the concert dubbed “The Last Dispatch,” band members Brad Corrigan, Pete Heimbold and Chad Urnston went their separate ways in the music industry. Urnston fronted the band “State Radio,” while Corrigan and Heimbold pursued solo efforts. Like so many great artists however, the bands retirement was short lived, and in less than three years Dispatch was once again playing together live in sold out venues. After three sold out concerts benefiting charities in 2007, one show in 2009, circling rumors, and the release of their first studio album (Dispatch EP) in over ten years, the band announced a reunion tour for 2011 that kicked off at Red Rocks. In 2012 dispatch toured the UK and on April 2nd announced they will be performing a North American tour for their album “Circles Around the Sun” which was released in late August. Needless to say, Dispatch is back my fellow fans!
The album’s opening title track, rings true with the Dispatch many of us grew to love in the 90’s with explosive energy, beautiful harmonies, and shredding guitar leads, yet it is obvious that in the 10 years since their last full length studio album the bands writing, style and production has evolved. The title track sets the vibe for an intricate album, that brings us back to the days of “Bang Bang,” while pushing forward and expanding the band's horizons.
The next track titled “Not Messin” keeps the energy level high with rhythmic lyrics, southern guitar leads, and an interlude with heavy drum rolls that comes back to the final verse with force.
The next two tracks titled “Get Ready Boy” and “Sign of the Times” chug along like a freight train as this album continues to progress. “Sign of the Times” slowly evolves and builds around repetitive lyrics into a jam song sure to last twice as long in concert.
At the heart of the album, “Josaphine” offers a familiar sound as Urnston sings over jazzy guitar and soft drums as Heimbold and Corrigan chime in with harmonies.
The second half of the album slows down beginning with “Flag.” “Come to Me,” best demonstrates the bands attempt to expand their sound. Heimbold sounds reminiscent of Lou Reed as he sings with little range. As the song concludes Heimbold, Urnston and Corrigan chant, “I don’t want to come down” over heavy distortion, and we are offered a sound hardly in the same genre as the ‘98 acoustic hit “The General.”
“Never or Now,” like Josephine, brings Dispatch back to their earlier days; off beat guitar strokes and prominent harmonies combine to make hip swaying, jamming music. “We Hold a Gun” beautifully and somberly slows down the album while “Feels so Good” leaves listeners with a cheerful vibe as Dispatch sings, “the sky is opening, the world is shining on your day, it feels so good now…”
Overall, “Circles Around the Sun” dips its toes into Dispatch’s past, providing a nostalgic glimpse into the bands first four albums while progressing and venturing on to new musical horizons. Long time fans will find a familiar sound in title track, “Josaphine,” and “Never or Now” but may be skeptical of the new direction Dispatch has taken in the songs “Flag,” “Come to Me,” and “We Hold a Gun.” It is obvious that Urnston, Corrigan, and Heimbold have each ventured in different musical directions over the past ten years and “Circles Around the Sun” is a valiant effort to patch each of their unique and evolved songwriting styles together. However, the seams are apparent, and the album is not as cohesive as their previous four albums from the late 90’s.