Back in 2006 frontier ruckus put out their first EP, I Am The Water You Are Pumping. I think it was the following year when I first heard of them, and I kept hearing about them over and over. For whatever reason I never checked them out. Even when people who had almost identical musical taste to my own would tell me to pick up their music, I hesitated. I have no idea why I did this. I heard a couple songs over the course of time, and they were good, but I stood my ground and never gave in to the prodding. Even more so than the records was the live shows. “Oh my god they’re the greatest live band ever!” was said to me on a weekly basis. Six years later, and here I am listening to the new frontier ruckus album Eternity Of Dimming after finally breaking under the straw laid upon my back by Zac Coe of The All-About.
The weird thing is, this album is pretty much tailor-made for me. It’s dense, dark, and deep in all the best ways. Matthew Milia writes brutally honest songs and delivers them as if he’s confiding in you as his best friend. There’s so much pain behind every word that you’d think the guy never had a good time in his life. He made a joke recently about having to remember a million words to sing at a show, and he’s not kidding. Imagine if every song on a Dylan record was the really long last track. That’s kind of what Eternity Of Dimming feels like.
Clocking in at 20 songs and something like 83 minutes, this is definitely something you want to make some time for. Chances are as soon as it’s over you’ll want to listen again to see what you missed. Luckily the runtime doesn’t feel as long as it really is. Like a great epic film, you’re constantly entranced by what you’re hearing and at the end you can’t believe it’s over already.
A lot of what keeps everything fresh is the multi-instrumental work of Zach Nichols. He plays trumpet, singing saw, and probably a million other things. Even though the album definitely has a sonic similarity throughout, it isn’t like Christopher Owens’ Lysandre where every song has the theme somewhere in it. On a record like Eternity Of Dimming, having some interesting changes in sound are necessary, otherwise it’s basically just a guy reading out of his diary set to bluegrass/americana.
I haven’t heard all of their earlier material, so I’m not sure how they’ve evolved over the years. Right now they seem to be tapping into something that a lot of people would like-a mix of equal parts Bright Eyes and The Jayhawks. It’s intelligent and heartfelt, somehow it’s also put together well enough that the words get stuck in your head. You wouldn’t think so, but you’d be surprised how easily some of these lyrics come off the tongue:
“But nothing is ever lost/the piled past is catalogued and tossed/Into where it is stored in/some vestigial organ/It pumps inside of me/the bile and the memory/The bathroom tile ivory/the carpet sponges so absorbently/Nothing is ever lost/nothing is ever lost.“
Those are from the song “Junk-Drawer Sorrow,” which happens to be one of the best songs I’ve heard in a while. Partly because it reminds me a lot of the Counting Crows song “A Long December.” Seriously. Listen to it and tell me you don’t hear it (I won’t believe you). It’s such a well-written tune, with Milia using his words as a weapon and a crutch.
Last week I posted my first installment of The Revolving Top Ten-my ongoing list of the best albums of the year-Eternity Of Dimming took the top spot. Honestly it’s not even close right now. To say that I recommend you pick up the record might be the biggest understatement of all time. It’s actually been out for over a week now, so you don’t have to wait for this one! You can download it here.