Tag Archives: Frontier Ruckus

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Frontier Ruckus – Mercury Lounge – January 30, 2015

February 2nd, 2015

Frontier Ruckus - Mercury Lounge - January 30, 2015

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

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Frontier Ruckus Answer the Question at Mercury Lounge

August 20th, 2014

Frontier Ruckus – Mercury Lounge – August 19, 2014

Frontier Ruckus – Mercury Lounge – August 19, 2014
“What’s the song about?” For many singer-songwriter types, that’s probably an annoying question to answer. Sure, sometimes it’s easy (I, like, love you very much!), but I imagine for Frontier Ruckus, with their word-dense, evocative, nonlinear songwriting, it’s usually more complicated than that. That being said, last night’s late set at Mercury Lounge featured plenty of explanations. So we had a number of introductions from frontman Matthew Milia like “this song is … vaguely about finding a stash of porn behind a Taco Bell” and “about getting drunk at your enemy’s wedding” and “winter in Michigan” and “on the surface, this is a breakup song.”

But when these tunes were played, dense forests of language with layers of lyrical fauna and flora, it was clear that they were much more than the descriptions offered. Part of the joy of listening was trying to grasp and digest these bits of imagery before the next one quickly came along. Of course, Frontier Ruckus are more than just lyrics, and the band was in fine form for their first of two area shows. To describe their sound, you need only know that in addition to the folk-rock staples of acoustic guitar, bass and drums, they feature a banjo player, David Winston Jones, and one of those Swiss Army knife guys who does a little bit of everything. This was Zachary Nichols, who rotated through keyboards, melodica, tuba, trumpet and the freakin’ saw, oftentimes all in the same song.

The set featured older material, songs from their excellent Eternity of Dimming album
as well as a healthy highlight of their soon-to-be-released, Sitcom Afterlife, which, ever with the wordplay, is both their fourth and forthcoming album. Highlights abounded: “Dealerships,” nominally about Michigan winters, punctuated with nice trumpet and banjo; the instrumental banjo-meets-saw duet of “Moon River”; the audience-requested “The Tower,” another duet with Milia again backed by Nichols on the saw; and the set-closing, long-player, “Adirondack Amish Holler,” with enough musical and lyrical twists and turns to fill at least a month of Tuesday nights. What’s the song about? That’s a good question! —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com

(Frontier Ruckus play Rough Trade NYC tonight.)

 

 

 

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Frontier Ruckus Play Two Local Shows This Week

August 18th, 2014

While in high school outside Detroit, singer-songwriter Matthew Milia and banjo player David Jones formed Frontier Ruckus, focusing on a mishmash of bluegrass, country, folk and rock. The band blossomed into a six-piece while the two were in college, and they went on to release a pair of well-received albums, The Orion Songbook (stream it below) in 2008 and Deadmalls and Nightfalls (stream it below) in 2010, before paring down to a four-piece, now with multi-instrumentalist Zach Nichols and vocalist Anna Burch, for last year’s terrific double album, their third LP, Eternity of Dimming (stream it below), which Allmusic calls “a beautiful, nostalgic (in the best meaning of the word) hymn to time and place, a long suite of songs that falls together like a wonderful quilt of memories.” Frontier Ruckus (above, performing “Thermostat” for do317 Lounge Sessions) have a new full-length, Sitcom Afterlife, arriving in November, but they’re already out on the road now. And you’ve got two shots to see them this week: tomorrow at Mercury Lounge and on Wednesday at Rough Trade NYC.

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Frontier Ruckus Played to Their Strenghts Last Night

December 6th, 2013

Frontier Ruckus – Mercury Lounge – December 5, 2013


Taking the stage at Mercury Lounge last night, Frontier Ruckus went from the “check, check, check” warm up straight into an eerie and wonderful melody featuring acoustic guitar, banjo and a saw without a pause or word. Yes, you read that right, a saw, and actually the guy playing it, Zachary Nichols, went from the saw to the trumpet to the melodica and back to the saw in a matter of a couple of verses. It was that kind of set where lyrics piled upon lyrics, ideas upon ideas and songs upon songs with barely a moment to digest or appreciate. Still, fronted by Matthew Milia, the Michigan quartet worked the details, a phrase here, a bleat of a horn there.

Frontier Ruckus’s sound is an engaging folk—guitar, banjo and harmonies—a swirl of Welch/Rawlings and the Avetts with a lyrical prowess that harkens Clem Snide’s Eef Barzelay or Stephen Malkmus. It’s Milia’s words that kept the audience hanging—this isn’t really sing-along music, but many in the crowd seemed to know every juxtaposed lyric by heart. This is a band that rhymes chirping with usurping, and East Lansing with entrancing without a stutter or hesitation. “Eyelashes” mixed great instrumental interplay with an evocative chorus of “your eyelashes are like needles.” “Dealerships” was an early set high-energy highlight, Milia spitting out word after word like a long Dylan diatribe, leaving the audience dizzy trying to keep up.

Mid-set, Milia broke a string and rushed offstage without comment to fix it, leaving the band in an unexpected lurch. But without a skip in the record, banjo player David Winston Jones waltzed over to Nichols and they jumped right into a haunting instrumental banjo-and-saw duet on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as if they had planned to all along. Later, a new song, described as taking place in the past and the future, about getting drunk at an enemy’s funeral contained a wonderful lyric about how the “theme song to this sitcom don’t have shit on our best episode.” It was here that Frontier Ruckus had their strength, songs like “Careening Catalog Immemorial,” about finding a stash of porn in a Taco Bell parking lot, Milia and Co. unearthing the poetic in the crass and mundane, the epic in the contemporary everyday, with tasty musical accompaniment and barely a moment left to breathe. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com

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Frontier Ruckus Play the Late Show at Mercury Lounge Tomorrow

December 4th, 2013

While in high school outside Detroit, singer-songwriter Matthew Milia and banjo player David Jones formed Frontier Ruckus, focusing on a mishmash of bluegrass, country, folk and rock. The band blossomed into a six-piece while the two were in college, and they went on to release a pair of well-received albums, The Orion Songbook in 2008 and Deadmalls and Nightfalls in 2010, before paring down to a four-piece with drummer Ryan Etzcorn and multi-instrumentalist Zachary Nichols. Frontier Ruckus (above, performing a pair of songs for Michigan Public Radio) put out a terrific double album, their third LP, Eternity of Dimming (stream it below) this past winter. Allmusic calls it “a beautiful, nostalgic (in the best meaning of the word) hymn to time and place, a long suite of songs that falls together like a wonderful quilt of memories.” See them play the late show at Mercury Lounge tomorrow night.

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