A good song nags at you. It lingers and sticks in your head, flowing endlessly on a loop, running over and over again. You either connect with a good song right from the jump; from the the very first time you hear it, or a good song slow burns it’s way into your life. But regardless, it’s there. “Only The Wild Ones,” a new release from Dispatch is a good song that slow burned it’s way hardcore and ever since, it might be my favorite song of the year so far.
First though, a brief moment to acknowledge my amazement that Dispatch was still around.
I am amazed Dispatch is still around.
I am amazed, not because Dispatch isn’t a good band, but because I thought they had broken up and despite some shows here and there, I figured they had become a time capsule band, a band that lives comfortably in a certain time of your life and that’s it. They may emerge from hibernation from time to time, but the essence of Dispatch had long since called it quits.
Apparently I was wrong. It’s okay. It happens.
Dispatch are still out in those streets though, making music and touring. They last released an album, Circles Around the Sun, in 2012. I didn’t listen to that one; couldn’t tell you what any of the songs sound like. For the last decade, I’ve been much more of a State Radio guy than a Dispatch guy. Like any Caucasian male in college during the age of Napster though, I got down with Dispatch back in the day. I drunkenly sang-along with “The General” and I sure as shit wasn’t the only one to do so. Bang Bang was the album that got everyone hooked and was probably played the most, but I became a bigger fan of their next album, Who Are We Living For? I thought it had a Beastie Boys-vibe to it and made me excited about the band’s future.
Yet Dispatch’s live show increasingly became a stumbling block for me. It never worked. The band’s three members (Brad Corrigan, Pete Francis and Chad Umston) always seem to be playing in proximity with one another as opposed to with one another. They looked and sounded like three solo acts playing on top of one another. I felt like their harmonies were competing with each other’s and each member seemed to be operating on their own level, which doesn’t really work in a band as small as theirs. A three-piece band must all be rowing in the same direction to get the most out of both themselves and the band. Dispatch never seemed to have a set path forward. This bothered me and eventually I checked out and as stated previously, became a State Radio guy, Umston’s post-Dispatch gig that seemed to run with the more rock tendencies Dispatch had flirted with in their first couple albums.
During 2000’s first decade, Dispatch was largely dormant after the last show before their hiatus, a massive gig in Boston that drew over 150,000 people from around the world. They played a show here and there and released live albums every couple of years, but kept returning to their solo projects. Their most notable return was in 2007, when they headlined a series of benefits for Zimbabwe at Madison Square Garden. It wasn’t until 2011 when Dispatch officially ended their hiatus, hitting the road for shows and releasing another live album, as well as Circles Around the Sun. They kept busy in the years that followed, but seemed to be coming in hot again this year with the release of “Only the Wild Ones,” the first single off of an upcoming album, American Location 12. They dropped another new song, “Skin the Rabbit” on the day before St. Patrick’s Day.
But this is about “Only the Wild Ones,”a song that is incredibly far removed from the brand of Dispatch I liked, but even I can admit that Who Are We Living For? came out over a decade ago and of course the band’s sound would have matured with age. The song has a Paul Simon vibe, more sunny and acoustic than the Paul Simon vibe Vampire Weekend has. According to the band, that vibe and the feeling of summer the song has was one of the main reasons it was released first.
“We’re releasing it first because it reminds us of summer and celebrates the spirit of the journey that we hope to go on with all of you,” an announcement on their website reads. “It’s a song that speaks to the beauty of the world that eagerly awaits us and our exploration of it. Chad began writing it when we were in Australia a few years back. He was playing with a guitar that Pete’s friend had made and started reminiscing about folks he met in college.”
I’d say it reminds me so much of summer that I wish it had actually come out in the summer. There’s a damn good chance I’ll still be listening to this song come July, but you never know what’s going to happen between now and then. I’m not sure February is the best time of year to drop a potential summer jam; something that would also go for Calvin Harris’ song “Slide,” which would be an early front-runner for Song of the Summer if it weren’t for the fact that it’s not even spring yet.
All petty judgements aside though, really all this proves is that you can’t ever shut the door completely on a band that you once loved. You loved them for a reason, a reason deeper than just the songs. They most likely had a spirit, a sound, a vibe, that you latched onto. If that connection maybe started to fade, that’s fine – those things happen. But it’s like re-connecting with an old friend you’ve lost touch with, you fall back into a rhythm effortlessly, as if no time had passed at all.
I’m not saying I’m fully back on board with Dispatch now, but they’re at least back in my life and I’m cool with that. I still might consider myself more of a State Radio guy, but now I’m at least a little of a Dispatch dude again.