Frontier Ruckus – The Orion Songbook

by oz on November 3, 2008

It’s uncharacteristically overcast and rainy in the bay area these days. It all started right around the time Frontier Ruckus showed up in my mailbox. It’s like the gods dimmed the lights, put a chill in the air, and washed rain against my windows to create the perfect backdrop for listening to this band’s debut album, The Orion Songbook.

Matthew Millia started Frontier Ruckus in a town outside of Detroit called Orion, but the album’s Orion Town is a fictional place where the songwriter explores themes of love, joy, sorrow, tragedy, and regret. Accompanying Matthew’s guitar and vocals are longtime friend David Winston Jones on banjo, Zachary Nichols on trumpet and singing-saw, Ryan Etzcorn on percussion, and the vocal harmonies of Anna Burch.

The album starts off stripped down with an acoustic guitar and lyrics that read like poetry on “Animals Need Animals.” Millia’s voice is a shaky blend of Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) and Eef Barzelay (Clem Snide). “Animals” bleeds into the next track, “The Latter Days,” which introduces a plucking banjo, rolling drums, backing vocals, and a growing intensity. From there, the album moves seamlessly from one song to then next like chapters in a gripping novel that make it difficult to tear yourself away.

Therein lies the beauty of The Orion Songbook. While other bands sometimes write and record a series of unrelated songs and then combine them under an album title, Frontier Ruckus set out to create a cohesive body of work. Like the title indicates, this album is more than just fourteen individual songs. They tell a series of stories that are all intertwined in some way and as a listener, you don’t pay attention to the song titles. You just hit play and take a hayride with Frontier Ruckus into Orion Town.

The album will be released via Quite Scientific Records on November 6th, but it’s available on eMusic now.

Website | MySpace | Quite Scientific Records | YouTube

Frontier Ruckus – What You Are

Frontier Ruckus – Orion Town 2

Frontier Ruckus – “Dark Autumn Hour,” filmed somewhere in the Michigan sticks.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Woody November 3, 2008 at 9:32 am

This is very good. No question about that. I do have a question about why the bearded dude is staring down Anna. She looks tough in that photo and if it was me, I would steer clear of her.

Ms. Tuneful November 3, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Since they’re all “bearded dude[s],” I can only guess that you’re talking about the banjo player, but I think he’s looking at his banjo fret-board, from which he is articulating so beautifully his licks.

But yeah, she’s cute.

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