Frontier Ruckus with River Whyless

Thursday • MOTR Pub

In some parallel universe, the late, great Jay Bennett was the alpha male in Wilco, chasing Jeff Tweedy from the ranks and fashioning the band into an irresistible Americana/Pop juggernaut. And in that same alternate reality, Ben Folds was enamored of expansive Chamber Pop and Roots Rock and set his course for the heart of the jangly sunrise.

In this universe, Frontier Ruckus has that musical corner covered.

Frontier Ruckus’ story began a dozen years ago at Detroit’s Brother Rice High School when Matthew Milia and David Jones assembled the band’s early version. The pair maintained Frontier Ruckus while attending college and expanded the lineup. The band’s 2006 debut EP, I Am the Water You Are Pumping, was overwhelmingly accepted by the Michigan press. Real Detroit Weekly subsequently cited them as the city’s best Folk band.

Frontier Ruckus’ first full length, 2008’s The Orion Songbook, created an even bigger stir, generating glowing national reviews that noted their epic intimacy and stunning wordplay, landing the band on numerous year-end Top 10 lists and paving the way for extensive U.S. and European touring.

The band’s slump-less sophomore full-length, Deadmalls and Nightfalls, was even more compelling and intoxicating; in addition to the official reviews (which almost universally praised the album as better than its excellent predecessor), Ryan Adams gave the album a ringing endorsement on his Twitter feed.

The Ruckus love continued with the release of 2013’s double-album Eternity of Dimming, and just over a year later, the band returned with the slightly more Pop-oriented, less verbally intricate but still musically provocative Sitcom Afterlife (think Elvis Costello and Michael Stipe arranging The Lumineers). Piss, pubic hair, unshaved legs, Ann Arbor, singing saws, A&W, crabapples, summer, shrink-wrapped hearts and the slush along the Motor City’s Dequindre Street, along with so much more, are packed tightly into Sitcom Afterlife’s 10-track, 48-minute duration.

Now pared to a quartet, Frontier Ruckus lives up to the latter half of its name in the live context, as evidenced by Rolling Stone once calling them out as one of the must-see acts at Bonnaroo.


FRONTIER RUCKUS WITH RIVER WHYLESS plays at MOTR Pub Thursday, Feb. 5. Find tickets/more info here .

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