Way Upstate and the Crippled Summer, Pt. 1

by Frontier Ruckus

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Our raw 2009 EP, previously available exclusively within The Orion Songbook double-vinyl package. Contains the early sprawling epic "Abigail" and other peripheral components of the nascent Orion Town mythology.

Available on The Orion Songbook 2xLP vinyl:


released June 20, 2009

All songs by Matthew Milia

Matthew Milia - lead vocals, guitar, pedal steel guitar
David Winston Jones - banjo, dobro, vocals
Ryan "Smalls" Etzcorn - drum kit, all percussion, background vocals
Zachary Nichols - trumpet, singing-saw, melodica, Hammond organ
Anna Burch - vocals

Guest Musicians:
Ryan Hay - piano on track 1, background vocals on track 1
John Krohn - bass guitar on track 1, background vocals on track 1
Angelica Tovar - background vocals on track 1

Produced by Frontier Ruckus
Engineered by John Krohn
Assistant engineer on track 1 was Ian Walker
Mastered by Glenn Brown
Artwork and Design by Matthew Milia

Recorded and Mixed at Deep Deep Pink in Lansing, Michigan during the summer of 2007 and winter of 2008-2009


all rights reserved


Track Name: One-Story-Carport-Houses
Shining in their thawing
Shining in their dawning

Under water towers
Glistening Sylvan Lake powers

Yards are overflowing
Lilacs and the knowing

That our bodies
Made this season come
Made the children succumb

That our bodies
Made the white-washed town
And glacial lakes strewn all around

There’s winter
Left in the cold wind
But the sky is warm and thin

And our bodies made
Track Name: The Great Laketown
I once had me a good-looking, God-fearing
Girl from the hills in the dusk
But the sawdust and lake-rust from those days were nearing
An end, so the locals don’t trust us

But they are just locals, and locals are rude
The drifter knows more though his expression is crude
And I’m a little bit of both though, I’m not merely one

And everyone’s a local
Depending on where you’re from

The girls from the town walked up to my house one night
As the buried sun slowly went down
Their clothes were the shouting of pathos in moonlight
I felt shame and slowly looked down

Pleasure has a pretty face
Helplessness voices and salt-teary taste
But true pleasure has no eyes

And how could I see now?
Where would I be now?
Would I be free now without those eyes?

Us children were raised in hills that are landlocked
But we hear the sounds of out of view waves
The logs that were stacked against the house clanked and they knocked
But the wind is trying to behave

Innocence was lost on the most
And is now washed away like our burial coast
But not all the sand can leave you too soon

And what could I count on
If I can’t trust our dune?

They’re calling our lives from the North hidden waters
They’re calling our lives from the South, East, and West
They’re calling our lives out like half-broken daughters
When terror arrives to their sharp-bitten chest

This ain’t the only damned town I’ve been in
This ain’t the only lifetime I’ve run thin
The sky is a liar that I aim to steal

‘Cause I’m just a local
Thirsting for something real
Track Name: Ann Arbortown
Ann Arbortown is railroad-warm
With every
Stirring glance

And every staircase I could form
Is being
By a new prayer stance

You thought he wanted you
For your fawn-neck
Freckled and child-heart
No one protects
No more
Track Name: Mohawk, New York
Standing 'neath the harbor house
The stars are dripping down
Your mind
Oh, your blouse
Are darkening Cannery Town

I’m a psychedelic on the railroad-red Erie Canal
The serrated town of Mohawk
Those engines are my only pal
They’re made of tin
They fall right in
But they do know

And that is why I say

"Darling, I had not even
Seen your eyes but now I know
They are charcoal
They’re not brown
The sounds are lustful
I should know"

Standing 'neath the harbor house
Your mind is melting on me
A doo-wop singing barbershop-fop
Melting now is all you see

They mean nothing, oh, they mean nothing at all
Track Name: Driving Home, Christmas Eve
The churchyard is frozen
The Salvation Army is closing
Your child is dozing asleep
In the backseat
The radio purrs
The heater is sweeter than when your heart was hers
Going home

I can’t get sleep
Bethlehem is a flock of sheep
With no shepherd to cling to
An angel to sing to
Magi to bring you myrrh
The radio purrs

A mansion of saviors
I-75 is a dark roadway lined
With the wild electricity of the
Animal behaviors
The bodies of young deer
The fam’ly it leads to
The sacrifice needs to not mar
The bright beacon star

No vacancy taken
The landscape is bone-chalk yet wet with vibrations
From the lamp-lit gas stations
Our few constellations
To course lapping anger onto
A manger of patience

I’ll see you at morning
The sterile air coming
From the yard will come white light
The memory of last night
The sickness and thickness of the
Christmas glow swarming
Track Name: Abigail
Abigail, the shore is frozen
Our tar trails have been bulldozing down
Your sharpened frown
Once had me possessed

Do you recall the crippled summer?
Your family all was in deep slumber
And oh how I loved their ways
When Leland’s haze still lingered
On my shadow

Your brother he didn’t have to die
Your mother she didn’t have to cry
Your father didn’t have to ask why
Summer was on your chest
As your eyes glow

All our drugstore lawns blew cool so fast
The mill was never built to last
The torturous thrill of sweating grass
Is this town’s only sorrowed
Trampled blanket

And if I was branded to your foyer
Through passing carpenters and lawyers
Agrarians and God’s own soldiers
I would never make it

Do you still dream of dangerous hotels
Wrapped in glares and daffodil smells
With your bare feet buried in weeds?

I still dream of snarled backyards
And being chased through nighttime’s discards
Where my fence reddens, rusts, and bleeds

And the curbs are haunted by the killers
Of memories of your back pillars
Where nothing wakens as it seems

All our rooms are hopeful mornings
Left like tombs when nights are swarming
And branching feathers fan our dreams

And your star was the saddest symbol
Flickered with your mother’s thimble
Pitiful and sun-soaked soggy
Beautiful inside the muggy
Ashamed of our bodies in the stream

Ah but spring’s dumbed voice is just like yours
And if I had a choice I’d do my chores
And my work would dumbfound
The restlessness found in you
And no one else could understand the truth
Of the soil burning back to youth
It’s just something that we found
But now it all thaws damp around you

And the streets are dry and bare, but they’re humming
The rooftops where the air stops coming down
To listen for the sound
Of the tests that surround you

I said, “Abigal the shore is frozen!”
Our tar trails, they’re all bulldozen now
Your bygone sounds are cicada-bound
They’re so shrilling, and night-smoke tarry
You should spill them into the starry
They are children, and no one’s sorry