Frontier Ruckus

Sitcom Afterlife is the 4th LP by Frontier Ruckus. Those on board since 2008's The Orion Songbook have seen the band's proverbial minivan careen wildly through a microcosmic Metro Detroit in sharpening detail. Culminating with 2013's Eternity of Dimming—a double-album of 20 songs and some 5,600 words—the band's ambition to extract universal life from personal minutiae had received its greatest indulgence. And now the strip malls have been numbered. The esoteric significance of each Dairy Queen is cataloged with hyper-specificity. In sanctifying a seemingly mundane suburban terrain, songwriter Matthew Milia's obsessive nostalgia has taken on a robust physicality. It is within this established mythological landscape of dealerships and supermarket lots that the densely woven stories from Sitcom Afterlife occur. This time, though, it is the people and their relationships, rather than the places by which they are defined, that have regained the emotional focus.

Though Frontier Ruckus' songbook has thoroughly dealt with the dissolution of love, Sitcom Afterlife's narrator may be the first spokesman for the band made to sift through the vitriol and confusion of winding up on the losing end. Smartly contrasted with a decidedly classic-pop hookiness, the narrative unfolds across each song cohesively—reconstructing a relationship and its demise, its tender and nightmarish poles. Providing crucial emphasis to these manic swings are the elegant orchestrations of David Jones and Zachary Nichols. Jones accompanies the jangle-pop of Milia's 12-string guitar with layers of inventive banjo tones that shimmer like 90s radio. Nichols, whose sonic experimentation has been a crucial ingredient in Frontier Ruckus' DNA, mingles brass and synth warmth with whirling singing-saw in precise counterpoint to the songs' emotional flux. Equally important is the return of Anna Burch's harmonies, which continue to add an indispensable femininity and balance to Milia's nasal harangue.
With all of these components firing together so deliberately unified, the result is a dynamic, nuanced monitor into one's internal processing of desire and loss—and perhaps Frontier Ruckus' most streamlined and intensely cogent work yet.

Since the band’s formation in 2007, Paper Bird has been playing its joyful blend of indie folk, roots, and Americana to delighted audiences nationwide. Paper Bird has released two studio albums, Anything Nameless and Joymaking (2007) and When the River took Flight (2010); as well as Carry On (2011), which was the score to a collaboration with Ballet Nouveau Colorado of the same name. Their unique sound is a combination of a dynamic and energetic rhythm section intertwined with effortless and flowing harmonies and the group’s backbone is their songwriting, musicianship and a general allergy to all limitations and trends. With seven members and no designated leader, the possibilities for Paper Bird are constantly unfolding, with fluctuations in style and mood akin to weather patterns. Their rare and beautiful approach to music led them to be featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and were voted in the Top 10 Best Underground Bands by the Denver Post three years in a row, as well as being 5280’s Top of the Town “Top Local Band.” Most recently, Paper Bird was featured in February 2013 in the New York Times in a story about up and coming Denver bands.

Paper Bird’s fourth album, Rooms, pushes musical boundaries even further than anything the group has done. Building on a unique signature sound with dynamic rhythms and effortless, flowing harmonies, Paper Bird wanted to make an album that was coherent and truly represented where they are as a band and as people –so they made a hard left turn by enlisting good friend and accomplished film composer Ryan Fritch, to produce Rooms. “Ryan sees music differently than all of us had before this recording process,” said drummer Mark Anderson. “His input on our music opened our eyes to new ways of writing and experiencing sound, helping to create an atmosphere within the album that did not exist before.”

In addition, Paper Bird wanted to try and capture the same energy as from their live shows, so they made the decision to track live—no easy task with seven members recording in different rooms. At the same time, they added yet another wrinkle. “We incorporated a slew of new instruments, which haven't appeared in our past albums, and will most definitely affect our live shows,” said Anderson. “Our sound really evolved during this process.”

The title, Rooms, stems from the simple premise that every song is like a different room in a house, each having a different feel and layout, something that is even more literal given that every band member contributes to the songwriting. Banjoist/guitarist Caleb Summeril says that Rooms is like a debut release. “It is our first studio album in over two years and the first with the band as it sounds today, with drums and more of an indie-folk sound than a traditional folk sound,” he said. “I think the songs will really translate well to a wider audience and I think this is our most accessible album thus far.”

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Frontier Ruckus, Paper Bird

Monday, December 2 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Do317 Lounge

Tickets Available at the Door