Reviews:: Frontier Ruckus I Am The Water You Are Pumping

Last week I gushed about the greatness of Frontier Ruckus. Well, with a few emails I had the I Am The Water You Are Pumping EP loaded onto my Ipod, and I can’t see it relinquishing it’s spot on the most-played list any time soon. With apologies to the great EPs I picked for the Best-of list, this one is a glaring omission.

Frontier Ruckus is a sextet from Ann Arbor, which as a life long ND football fan, is not a place with great memories for me. It is however, a place with great folk music and the beautiful campus town is a perfect setting for the sounds of Frontier Ruckus. Led by song writer Matthew Milia, this band really moves as a seamless unit. The contributions of each member are apparent, and more importantly, crucial to the development of each song.

The opening track, The Blood, is a perfect example. Banjo, acoustic, horns and drums all show up on the intro before Matthew’s vocals take over, but just as quickly Anna begins harmonizing with him. Her traditionally pleasant voice couples nicely with Milia’s more quirky delivery. The song build slowly but surely before peaking. The song maintains the energy for the remainder of the song, and somehow the six-plus minutes seems to be about three.

The band relaxes slightly on Dark Autumn Hour, using a simple banjo line, dueling vocals and nice xylophone and melodica parts on the more restrained and conventional effort. The straight ahead style works well, as it’s insanely catchy and ear pleasing and makes the experimental shift of The Back-lot World seem even more severe.

The singing saw floats around the track like a possessed spirit, and contrasts the minimal sounds that start the song. The band adds horns, harmonies and a snare drum drag to keep the tension peaked. The same singing saw shows up on the more accessible Rosemont, and it shows how well though out the EP really is. Despite the shift in sound, the saw makes the tracks blend nicely and keep the release from sounding disjointed. It’s not just their 6 best songs, IATWYAP is a well-thought out package.

June is Our Mother’s Name is the most interesting track on the record. They create a collage of fragmented sounds and percussion that gives the track a herky-jerky path that shouldn’t work, but somehow does. The rapid fire delivery, the melodica, the xylophone all stand out, but never overpower the other elements of the track. By the time the vocals fade out on the excellent closer, Adirondack Amish Holler, I’m not sure how any folk fan wouldn’t be completely satisfied by this effort.

MP3:: Dark Autumn Hour
Bonus MP3:: What You Are

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