Sadly, I hadn't heard of their rootsy indie rock until after they began their lengthy hiatus; 2000's Who Are We Living For? was my introduction to their wonderful music.
And yet, today, twelve years later, they've returned, with a great new album called Circles Around the Sun.
When bands take this much time between albums, the results are rarely good, but this album bucks that trend with authority, and can be considered among their strongest albums to date.
Just listen to some of these songs - the title track, a touching story of singer/guitarist Chad Urmston's friend Larry, is very engaging, as is its follow-up, Not Messin'.
Other songs, like Get Ready Boy (jangly acoustic guitars), Sign of the Times, and the bluesy Josaphine showcase their incredible depth as musicians. That's really the band's best characteristic - Urmston, bassist/vocalist Pete Heimbold and drummer Brad Corrigan have a seamless synchronicity, deeply aware of each other's limits and talents as musicians and creators. As a result, theirs are songs of passion, precision and earnestness that really help set them apart from everyone else, musically-speaking.
And don't let their classification (in some circles) as a "jam band" dissuade you - Dispatch are much, much more than that.
One of my favorite tracks on Circles Around the Sun is Flag, which is led by some ominous-sounding guitar/ukulele strums before touching on subjects very close to Dispatch's collective heart: politics and war.
Other highlights: We Hold a Gun, a slow, progressive number, and the album-capping Feels So Good (listen to that one and try to not be in a good mood afterwards).
I was apprehensive about what to expect with this album, but I'm glad to report that Dispatch have re-emerged from their break with a sense of rejuvenation and energy that most other newly-reformed acts can only dream of having.
Give this album a spin if you like music with good vibes, gorgeous melodies, and a power that will motivate you to listen to it quite frequently - it's a keeper.