Alone At St. Hugo
Alone at St. Hugo is the forthcoming debut album by Matthew Milia—lead singer and songwriter of Frontier Ruckus.
Recorded to the reel-to-reel of a Tascam 388 tape machine in a small Ypsilanti, Michigan spare room, the record captures the sound of two friends setting out to find a harmony-laden, power pop backdrop for Milia's signature lyricism. This bedroom-fi analog approach resulted in something both classically lush and intimately raw at once. Each track began with Milia on guitar and Ben Collins on drums, playing live in the room together. From there, they divided a small galaxy of overdub responsibilities between themselves evenly—mellotron, pedal steel, Hammond organ, cello, mandolin, and horns being a few of the textures wrangled in giddy, all-night sessions. Coupled with vocal layers verging on Big Star grandeur, the most poignant aspect of the musicality's sweetness is the foil it serves to Milia's vocabulary of domestic American heaviness—a world of decaying suburban landscapes and the desperate hope still residing therein. At its core is a set of finely honed songs—a dense but deliberate catalog where memory is obsessed upon. A cast of waitresses, youth soccer coaches, grandparents, and young lovers occupying the ailing station wagons and birthday banquet halls in which these songs reside. Milia sings about real human beings in all of their glorious mundanity. Perhaps he is singing there alone, in St. Hugo, the Catholic grade school he attended from K-8. The way a selection of our memories will ring forever in some evacuated mental building, lights-out in endless night. But through it all, a wry sense of humor winks its way through the pathos, atop chord changes displaying a level of precision and classic craft uncommon to the habits of today's songwriters.
"...the haunting voice of frontman Matthew Milia, who conjures what might happen had Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum been raised in a log cabin."
- Rolling Stone
"...his unmistakable and emotively quavering voice...one man’s existential vision of the world through an idiosyncratic local lens."
"Matthew Milia is straight-up one of the most underrated lyricists of recent times."
- Gold Flake Paint
"Milia paints pictures, in vivid imagery of American scenery, life, and love, with not a single word misplaced in its poetic grace."
- Under the Radar
"...lyrics as dense as a Faulkner novel and intricate arrangements that transform the typical Americana twang and faded pastoral preconceptions of folk/pop into something surreal and yet familiar."