Editor’s note: High Dive Records is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Fourth of July’s On The Plains with a vinyl release. Writer Nathan Cardiff dove into why the album is a Lawrence gem.
I’ll attempt to keep this short, because the last time I wrote about Fourth Of July I went on for quite some time. I’m here to simply celebrate, as the band (past and present [final?] forms) should, the tenth anniversary of their debut record.
On The Plains kicked off the sound the band would perfect: jangly, tight pop music with some heartbreakingly honest lyrics. By the time they reached Empty Moon six years later, that pop sensibility remained, but that heartbreak would evolve to downright melancholy. Letting the listener get a front row seat to every aspect of a relationship and sharing it underneath a catchy chorus? Even when you thought you shouldn’t look, you wouldn’t turn away. This is too personal, I should go… but you couldn’t. And then you realize that maybe you’ve made the same mistakes, had the same jealous tendencies, said too much or a cruel comment you didn’t mean. Does that make On The Plains an “immature” record? Certainly not. Writing off the themes of the record as “follies of youth” is missing what it’s accomplished. It’s an exhibition in intimacy, desperation, loneliness, romance, and love lost– and whose 20s weren’t a combination of all those? Drinking too much and regretting what you said (or did) the night before. Tensions rise and tempers flare, and then it lingers. “Be careful what you want from love, cause that’s what you might get.”
Here’s to the band: six members when the album was released on Range Life Records in 2007; Brendan, Kelly, and Patrick Hangauer, Adrianne Verhoeven, Brian Costello, and Steve Swyers. I’m sure dear reader that you have more than enough of your own experiences and memories to connect with this record and Fourth Of July over the last ten years; you don’t need my own (“Goddamn, I never thought of that”). But I can still hear the singalongs from rowdy crowds at the Replay when the band would play “Be Careful,” “Surfer Dude,” “Purple Heart,” “She’s In Love,” and “Killer Bees,” (all of which appear on this very album) four/five/six years after it debuted. And I’m the guy that still requests “In Debt” on KJHK anytime I’m back in Lawrence. High Dive Records is now offering two vinyl reissues on July 21st (including a variant limited to 100 copies) to mark the anniversary. Here’s to On The Plains. “I’ll be dreaming of the summer where I can live again.” Same here.