Breezy and seemingly effortless, the 10th anniversary vinyl edition of Fourth of July’s On the Plains comes just at that point in the summer where the heat’s left everything baked dry, while all you really feel like doing is sitting around and listening to music while you cool off. Maybe you’re dancing to the opening cut, “Be Careful,” while trying not to knock things off your coffee table. Or maybe you’re leading group singalongs to “Surfer Dude,” but you’re definitely drinking a tasty beverage and probably bumming cigarettes off your friends, even though you totally plan on quitting when school starts back up in a couple of weeks.
There’s so much singalong potential in the songs of Lawrence-based Fourth of July that this record — even if you didn’t spend the entirety of 2006-2008 seeing the band play seemingly every weekend within walking distance of your house (like this writer did) — will make you feel as if songs such as “Long Gone” have been with you for a decade, as well. They’re loping, ever-so-slightly twangy pieces of pop brilliance, and none of them manage to break the four-minute mark.
By the end of On the Plains, you’ll be ready to flip the record and repeat for the entire duration of whatever little party this ends up soundtracking.
Fourth of July’s On the Plains always sounded pretty good, so the vinyl pressing also sounds nice. It’s nothing fancy — the indie production is a little thin — but everything is separated cleanly in the mix, with some well-placed use of channels on a few songs. It’s crisp and clear, rather than the fuzzy, verging on chaotic affairs of the Neutral Milk Hotel and Pavement albums which are its obvious influences.
Pressed on gorgeous, limited-edition “bone white vinyl with Halloween orange splatter,” the 10-year anniversary release looks like a sunflower spinning on your turntable. It’s housed in a matte jacket, which has become the hallmark of High Dive’s releases thus far, and I can’t help but enjoy the low-key level of class it’s lent to their LPs. The liners have absolutely hilarious, yet strangely sincere portraits of the band and its members from a portrait studio, and they look gloriously early ‘90s. There are also lyrics on the back.
On the Plains is available on vinyl from High Dive Records.