Frontier Ruckus

frontier ruckus

Frontier Ruckus’second full length album Deadmalls and Nightfalls (named after the now abandoned strip mall that lead singer Matt Milia’s mother worked at during his youth) is a blatant homage to the people and places that make lasting impressions throughout life. The band is successful in their illustration of memories past. Even I wanted to go back to my childhood in Michigan (although I have lived in Atlanta my whole life).

The band’s follow up to their previous full length album The Orion Songbook (2008) is familiarly guided by Milia’s unmistakable vocals and features the signature sound of banjo, singing saw, and trumpet that listeners will recognize. Even though the band has held on to the attributes that have made them a buzz-building folk act, even getting a recommendation by Rolling Stone magazine as “an act to see at Bonnaroo 2010,” Deadmalls and Nightfalls is completely different than their previous release. Where older songs such as “Latter Days” and “The Deep-Yard Dream” sound like they may have been recorded around the campfire, Deadmalls features a cleaner sound from the band.

“Silverfishes” and “The Upper Room” are tied for my vote as favorite track. Overall Deadmalls and Nightfalls is a successful progression for Frontier Ruckus. Do I consider this album one of my favorites of the year? No. Will I listen to this album often? Possibly. Is it my first choice as album to put on during a long road trip through the country? Definitely.

Frontier Ruckus – Nerves of the Nightmind

Video: Frontier Ruckus – The Tower

The Author:

Erica resides in Atlanta, GA and blogs about music at Handclaps and Hoorahs.


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.