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    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

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    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Music Feature

Hinterland souls

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

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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.

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