Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Reminders abound in the music of Fourth of July that everything is static, clinging surroundings and circumstances to us like lightning spiders and tube socks to sweaters. The only way to get away from the people we've aligned with and known for far too long (or perfectly long enough) is by ripping them violently from our body, to tear back and off a piece of our surface skin. The rub therein lies in the simple physiological absolute that when a piece of skin is ripped off of the body, more comes with it, think layers and chunks that you might prefer not to have separated from you that way. Those bloody cleavings are the easiest way to learn the definitions of permanence and regret. They smack of wanting to take something impossible back, a retraction that Merlin wouldn't have the foggiest how to pull off. It will leave scars and blemishes that cosmetics could never fully cover.
These are the people, the simplest of all to be rid of, some would think. Then there is the cache of mentally documented and miscellaneous unwritten fragments of the prism - greens and blues and reds and mangos - that make up the greater ball of wax, the series of sneaks and scrolls that accumulate like potato chip bags and gum wrappers under the passenger seat of any piece of shit car. They're the worst, imprinted on our hands and fingers and faces like blackberry ink stains, never to be washed cleanly off. We are all tattooed whether there's a barbed wire encircling our bicep or a tiny panda bear or butterfly hiply residing on the base of our spine. We are tattooed in invisible ink though, not the blackberry juice, unseen by the naked eye until the gears are turning and the mind is reflecting, wondering whatever became of our posture, replaced by a paucity of guile and confidence, a pallor toward believing that anything can be a no strings attached sort of situation.
The Lawrence, Kansas, band of brothers and compadres finds itself needing only to remember one thing: that there is no finality to be found as far as the living are concerned. Finality comes from the grave and only then does it exist. At play in the songs that Brendan Hangauer pens are the many various audio documentations of someone who can spot the minor disturbances in his force and call them the elephants in the room. All of the elephants that he deals with in song, in jangly, controlled, half-drunken ways are bulky enough to fill an auditorium and then some. He deals with girls and relationships, not to mention that nagging predicament that happens inevitably whenever two people get together and bond over a burning connection, or just a moonlit coincidence, falling for that pixie dust that reaches out and connects you by an unseen force. It's this thought of having to eventually, often sadly, tell someone you've been involved with goodbye. Hangauer sings on "Killer Bees," "The word goodbye is a hard word to use…//The breeze puts us all out like seeds," and the lesson to be learned is one that's been cured and understood by any student of time taking its toll on nearly everything, turning the originally taut complexion into a wrinkled and somewhat undesirable figure. Only somewhat.