Music

Fourth of July: Fourth of July on the Plains

Small-scale but intensely personal indie folk-rock from Lawrence, Kansas.


Fourth of July

Fourth of July on the Plains

Label: Range Life
US Release Date: 2007-06-05
UK Release Date: Available as import
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Fourth of July on the Plains, the debut LP from Lawrence, Kansas band Fourth of July, is a subtle sort of celebration. The project of singer/songwriter Brendan Hangauer, this release has the feeling of a small-scale triumph -- weaving some new, small statement out of the familiar instrumentation and tenor of indie pop. The album follows a kind of narrative, as far as I can tell -- winning the girl and losing the girl and drinking too much and being jealous of her when she flies to France, or something like that. The songs ring with the confluence of Bishop Allen, though Hangauer's storytelling aesthetic (and occasionally his melodies) more strongly recall Bright Eyes. "Why Did I Drink So Much Last Night?" is obvious but on point, with twangy Ryan Adams-style guitars and a memorable twinge of regret. All this personal revelation can be frightening, but it can also be adorable -- one moment Hangauer sings about wanting to kill the girl in her sleep when he's drunk, for being mean to him; another moment he's worried that she'll beat him up. At their best, as on "Like a Tiger", Fourth of July finds splendour in heartache and depression -- there often seems nothing the singer can do about it, but fuel exquisite music.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

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From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

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This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

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