By Nick Kivi
Frontier Ruckus lives in days gone by. I’d like to think that if they had all been architects rather than musicians, their masterpiece would have a century’s worth of experience built into the rusted frames and rotting floorboards. It’d probably look a lot more like Detroit’s Central Station than its Renaissance Center (Midwestern architecture jokes, you say? You bet!). They treat nostalgia like a great glob of potter’s clay, stretching outwards with the momentum of memory into some truly epochal works (see: Eternity of Dimming).
The Lansing, Michigan band just announced their newest album, Sitcom Universe, which drops this fall on Quite Scientific. In anticipation, they’ve released the advance single “Sad Modernity.” Matt Milia is currently by far one of the best songwriters in all of music, but his lyrics can seem impenetrable, as they require a great deal of focus to extract the real meaning. Yet “Sad Modernity” sees Milia’s lyrics, and the rest of the band (David Jones, Anna Burch, Zach Nichols, Ryan Etzcorn), open up and breathe a bit: “The theme song for this sitcom / doesn’t have shit on our greatest episode.” The sound is much more rocking and upbeat than earlier records like The Orion Songbook, with Jones’ banjo much lower in the mix, which lets Nichols’ keyboards shine through. The theme of nostalgia and looking back (as well as forward) permeates throughout, mentioning friends gone to Seattle, cars spun out, and drunkenness at the weddings of enemies.
Frontier Ruckus has always been a very proud Michigan band, and their Lansing roots unleashes a torrential slew of memories for me (I’m a sucker for any song that mentions I-75). Even if you have no connection to Michigan, they’re much too talented a band to not get through to you, and they can still gladly chauffeur your next flashback daydream.