Drinkify Suggestion: http://drinkify.org/dispatch
Odd situation to me here. I'm excited to review something by Dispatch, but I'm not 100% sure why. I feel like I've liked their music in the past, but can't place a single song in my head. This is a band I've got placed into my Bonnaroo schedule, but I have no idea what made me want to see them so badly.
In other words, an EP is probably the best case scenario to go about this!
The quick bio breakdown tells us that this is a New England jam band that formed during college in Vermont. With a 1996 debut full of three-part harmonies, and a number of albums since, they clearly have had staying power. I love this description: "cheeky, college-friendly mix of Barenaked Ladies-style acoustic pop and folk-rock, with some reggae and funk influences tossed in for good measure." In other words, a good time.
"Melon Bend" is the first song, with strains a hard rock strewn throughout a very sweet little guitar strum. The vocals, when they come in, are nowhere near the pop sound that maybe was expected. The echos are deep and slightly haunting, really providing a great and interesting sound. The harmonies are probably most gripping as we get sent down a spiraling deep sound. It's sort of a weird listening experience. I had the song on low for the beginning, and it was wonderful, moving background music. As turned it up, the rock really came out in full force and made it more of a jam. Usually you don't really get both ends of the spectrum just based on volume differences.
Ah, here's the reggae beat we were promised. "Con Man" has the beat, while still holding onto the harmonies. The sound is sort of weird - I mean.... ugh, how do I explain this. It actually sounds like it's coming from computer speakers, which is a rarity when I listen to things on my computer. It's just the way it's recorded, I think. The vocals are hitting the right rhythm for the classification, but not over-doing it where you border on bored with the track. The guitar use in here is freaking wonderful too - the right element of rock is infused into this. Just gorgeous.
"Valentine" is soft and sweet and everything you could want from a song titled as such. The guitar strum and few extraneous notes are the only things that hold it together musically, and it's just a perfect backing to soft voices talking on a relationship. The concept of getting lost in love is woven into this really beautiful melody of lyrics. They don't make songs like this anymore. Sure, you get the cute guitar boy playing, but he normally sounds like he's twelve. This is a man with a sincere voice you could listen to easily in the park all day long.
"Broken American" has got me intrigued right from the start. There's a southern/bluegrass element to it that takes the song in a completely different direction than anything I think I've ever heard before. I mean, this is really cool! I don't think you'd ever peg it as bluegrass just listening without prompt, but you would recognize something really different and interesting about it. The chorus alone is enough to get your feet wanting to move around in the grass. Seriously, I'm totally in love with this odd concoction of sound, even without giving the lyrics too much effort in listening.
The final song on this EP is "Turn This Ship Around." We're back to slow guitar rock, fitting of a smokey back room. Interesting range of styles on this album, I must say. This last one's a little tough, but definitely a closer. It's a bit tiring, like the end of the long night, but the sound is still pretty. The harmonies carry this in the chorus portions, while the verses are what makes it really drag along. Not a bad song, just not anything to write home about. There's an interesting guitar break at one point that brings a grittier sound to the song, but almost is bordering on out of place.
Added to My Playlist:
- "Con Man"
- "Broken American"
This was... really, really good. I mean, I commented on the style differences throughout this, which is hard to do and do well for one band normally. These songs seemed to be really well crafted for the short EP though, and seem to display the best the band has to offer in a few different varieties. I still can't place what made me so excited for them at the start, but I love what I've heard and really am looking forward to indulging in more of their sound.