Trending
Most Read
  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through BuildingDetroit.com, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

Calendar

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

Music Feature

Hinterland souls

Crowded with Michigan references, Frontier Ruckus’ folk-pop draws a wide audience

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


Though he may not play Detroit as much as he’d like to, Frontier Ruckus lead singer-guitarist Matthew Milia is pretty certain the landscape described in the band’s lyrics will seem familiar to anybody in southeastern Michigan. After all, the local quartet spent its whole first album lyrically “mythologizing this entire area,” Milia recalls, “Metro Detroit’s crazy system of connections and mingling worlds … riding the gradient of Woodward.” His evocative lyrics insistently fix upon Michigan minutiae, seemingly clutching some sepia-toned photo album of his life’s major plot-points, mapping the mitten throughout the band’s three full-length albums.

And even if it’s Milia’s intention to survey a large list of Michigan-specific locales, it doesn’t limit the geographic appeal of Frontier Ruckus’ baroque-blended reinventions of road trip-influenced country rock; he says listeners from all over still tell him how well they’re able to relate.

Whether framing his diary-esque montages in obscure settings — from Lansing’s Baker Woodlot or some rest stop in Jackson — Milia says showgoers chatting him on tours far south or way out west still sound like they’re able to “access the same emotional content,” tying whatever melodious Michigan-centric lyric to some place familiar to their own life — or their own memory.

Milia understands. “I live in the past more so than anyone I know,” he says, “and to my own detriment, trust me.” He considers his own memory “cumbersome, weighty.” One telling lyric considers the past as being: “piled and cataloged … stored in some vestigial organ.” Milia’s notion that the entirety of everything and every place he’s known, cherished or hated can exist in his body ignites his musical inspiration.

The 27-year-old English major writes almost every day of his life, saying that it’s “all I know how to do to stay sane.” Songwriting gives him an illusion of control, calming “an internal panic of memory passing futilely or the present tense squandered.” 

“I don’t put any constraints on myself when writing, and that makes things more interesting and the scope, then, is greater.”

But the vivid and haunting lyrics are just one facet flourished in the beautiful ballads of Ruckus as an ensemble, enriched by the thrum of bass and a dash of brass (Zachary Nichols), the rustle of intricate rhythms (Ryan Etzcom), and the jangle of a busy banjo (David Jones). 

Jones and Milia started Ruckus fresh out of high school, meeting and bonding over music at Detroit Brother Rice in 2002. In the two years following their acclaimed 2008 debut, The Orion Songbook LP, the band toured the United States, making it over to Europe a few times, and releasing a pair of EPs. In 2010, they released Deadmalls and Nightfalls, a follow-up LP as comparably epic as Orion

They have always eschewed the three-chord glories of garage rockers and leaned more toward the sophistications expected of troubadour-poets, crafting ambitiously theatrical songs with an earthy, eerie, ruminative folk-rock aesthetic. That they got associated with “bluegrass” initially was likely because of Jones’ banjo percolations. There was also that nasally honked, rust belt-accented reediness to Milia’s voice, the warmly fuzzed purr of organs, and the wobbly coo of a singing-saw that inevitably affected a folk or country vibe.

The group’s new album, Eternity of Dimming, Milia says, features artful homages to the “shimmery car pool music that we would listen to on the way to soccer practice.” Dimming distinguishes itself with interesting experimentations in pop-rock, infusing the otherwise august jangle of Americana with major keys and catchier hooks.

The Frontier Ruckus guys also have even more ambitious plans in the offing. This month, they’ll release Dimming as a double album with 20 songs stretching 90 minutes. Milia promises it will be their “most nostalgic record,” nay, “the apotheosis” of said-nostalgia. “[It’s] the most indulgent record I’ll ever write,” Milia confesses, “mythologizing my own memory.”

After they perform the Hill Auditorium this Friday for the Ann Arbor Folk Festival, they head out on tour, including down to the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. When they leave to tour Europe again next month, they’ll be assured that Dimming will have reached more overseas audiences thanks to their being cosigned to UK-based Loose Music (home to Deer Tick, Lucero and the like). Michigan and stateside music fans can hear Dimming via Ann Arbor-based Quite Scientific Records.

Milia says the “bare concept” of Dimming’s songs was a juxtaposition of “that super-nostalgic, major-key jangle tone with tragic lyrics. Mixing tragedy with levity, beauty with the terror of memory.”

If you were worried that lyricism had become a lost art in a music world muddled with minimalist bedroom composers of on-the-fly dance-pop, mumbling into Auto-Tunes or reverb-distorted computer mics, then you’ll find solace in the fine craftsmanship of Frontier Ruckus. Yes, there are still bands out there crafting full albums, fleshed out in well-equipped studios; but you can certainly lose yourself, (or, actually, find yourself) in the Eternity of Dimming.

Frontier Ruckus celebrates the release of Eternity of Dimming Friday, Jan. 25, at the Hill Auditorium (825 N. University Ave.,  Ann Arbor; 734-763-3333) A part of The 36th Ann Arbor Folk Festival; one-night tickets are $35-$47.50; series tickets are $60-$85; available at 734-763-8587.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus