Wednesday, December 16, 2009

to walk north as sun is setting

"This debut establishes the group as already one of the very best sounds to come out of metro Detroit in the last decade." - Metro Times Magazine

Matt Milia of Frontier Ruckus uses the geographical nuances of Metro Detroit and all it's north-reaching disintegration as metaphor to tell a story that is both local and far-reaching, heartfelt and cold, and lyrically something of an odyssey to delve into.

With central themes of love lost, guilty lust, and growing old, Milia sings obscure references of Michigan landmarks as being packed with memory and over-brimming as physical representations of the intangible aspects of growing up in Detroit.

In Animals Need Animals, a chilling, wintery personal account of past love he sings:

my long-necked, freckle-specked, heavy-chested, trust-invested
sows her
breath into my chest and hums
now what kind of county line
holds her remains

His abstract and somewhat surrealist style of writing is obsessively descriptive and mimics the feeling his voice projects. Everything is overflowing with memory and meaning... the bright beacon north-star along I-75's shoulder, the northern liquor-lotto-store and its ice box machine, the dried out "bleached canals" running alongside Lake Orion's dirt roads, and the crumbling porches and shopping carts of Detroit. Even that outside smell of dryer sheets in the winter finds its way into Milia's songs:

worried homes have walls
they absorb old phone calls
they spit warm laundry smoke to the cold backyards

County lines, and more generally geographical borders, mean a lot to Milia's metaphor of Orion Town. The touching towns which can be perceived as the suburbs that sprawl in all directions from Detroit, illustrate the present time, while Detroit itself represents the past. The touching towns at some point begin to blur into one another, but upon reaching their outward limits you've reached what Milia might refer to as the frozen north country.

If you missed them at MOCAD last week, you might have to wait a while. They've been touring extensively since their LP release, and their next Michigan date looks like January 21st in Grand Rapids.

I could probably write a lot more on these guys, but I've come down with an awful case of P1-N1 (Panda Flu) so I'm going to call it a night.



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