Photo by Sean Cook
Frontier Ruckus, Pomegranates
Wed Feb 6, 2013
Southgate House Revival, 111 E 6th St, Newport, KY
7pm doors, 8pm show, $10 FOR 21+ / $13 FOR 18-20
Since their 2008 debut, The Orion Songbook, Frontier Ruckus has staked a claim as chroniclers of coming-of-age songs set in the snowy Midwest, in their case the suburbs of Detroit, MI. The band’s breakthrough album, Deadmalls and Nightfalls, introduced a national audience to Matthew Milia‘s personal mythology and visual, narrative songs and poetic lyrics, drawing comparisons to artists ranging from Jeff Mangum and Will Oldham to Sufjan Stevens. Eternity of Dimming is the culminating chapter in their suburban memory landscape series. The sprawling, 20-song double album was recorded in rural Michigan during the winter, when the dusk settles in at about 4 pm and the nights seem endless. Working in isolation (including being snowed in), the group captured Milia’s vivid, confessional memories on tape and the album took shape. Uncut Magazine (8/10) writes: “This very fine third album carries much of Okkervil River of The Decemberists in its piquant narrative, though the banjo-led music is more akin to the erudite hillbilly-folk of Jim White or even the Be-Good Tanyas.”
Milia’s songs unspool like a dream — wistful examinations of the detritus of his suburban youth marked by a brutally tender pathos, graphic candor and an obsession for the emotional luggage contained within real objects only recently rendered obsolete. His distinctive, untrained vocals are set against spidery, melodic banjo lines; layered horns, a wailing singing saw, hyperactive time signatures and a wild new sonic palette produced by swirling organs rescued from bankrupt churches, tiny ’80s keyboards plugged into even tinier ’50s amplifiers, stylophones, dying remote control beeps, disposable camera flashes, and good old clean electric guitar. Often experimental, always intimate, the result is an ingenuous, simple beauty.