Playing in a local rock band is a tough job these days, especially in this new world in which many think music should be absolutely free, downloadable or streamed.
Going to local rock clubs like Mac's Bar or The Loft isn't one click away, and most often it isn't free (unless one has managed to weasel their way onto a guest list). So it's a remarkable feat when bands not only win a local following, but also manage to make some waves nationally and internationally. Here are a few local outfits that have drawn crowds and sold records beyond state lines and across oceans.
Frontier Ruckus has been steadily growing since its debut indie-folk EP back in 2006. Led by songwriter Matthew Milia and banjo player David Winston Jones, the American-roots group has toured the world playing intimate and melodic songs at clubs and massive festivals like Bonnaroo: Rolling Stone dubbed the band's appearance an "essential set" to see. A couple of cool points were earned when the Adult Swim network recently used the band's song "Dark Autumn Hour" in a plug for the network. Frontier Ruckus' latest full-length, "Deadmalls and Nightfalls," was re-released as a double vinyl LP this summer by local label Lower Peninsula Records. The deluxe LP features "Way Upstate and the Crippled Summer Pt.2," a collection of songs with a country twang to them. The extravagant package features eight square feet of artwork and liner notes.
The Cheap Girls has been staying true to its throwback power-pop motif for five years now (yup, it's been that long). The band, which debuted in 2008 with "Find Me a Drink Home," is gaining more steam than ever after countless tours and a couple trips to Europe. The band also released a list of new tour dates that start in March and stretch from New York City's Knitting Factory down to Texas. After inking a deal with Rise Records, the trio immediately began recording its third full-length, "Giant Orange," which Rise releases Feb. 21. The album was recorded by Tom Gabel, frontman for Against Me!, a national punk band. For a preview of the record, which is already garnering buzz from Alternative Press and other publications, visit YouTube, where the songs "Ruby" and "Cored to Empty" are being streamed. The band's local release show is Feb. 17 at Mac's Bar.
The Peoples Temple has acquired a small pile of 7-inch vinyl singles, released by an assortment of indie labels. The '60s-inspired psych-punk band was formed in 2007 by two sets of brothers, and has since played reverb-drenched shows from Lansing to South By Southwest in Austin. In May, the band dropped "Sons of Stone," its debut full-length. The slab of wax was released by HoZac Records, a Chicago-based label. The LP received praise multiple times from Pitchfork Media, along with positive write-ups from The Los Angeles Times, Maximum RocknRoll and countless blogs. Internationally, the album was applauded by magazines like Uncut and New Musical Express. The band is recording its sophomore album.
Bermuda Mohawk Productions, a relentlessly busy local label, was in full swing in 2011. The label co-released an LP by All Eyes West, a Chicago-based melodic-punk trio. In the spring, the label released a 12-inch by The Fucking Cops, a Cleveland punk rock band. That album also picked up stellar reviews nationally, and had a video featured on BlankTV. Local metal band Cavalcade, which includes BMP founder Cale Sauter, was signed by Housecore Records, a label owned by metal legend Phil Anselmo (former vocalist of Pantera). Anselmo even name-dropped the Lansing rockers in a interview this year with Decibel Magazine. The label plans to release a full-length Cavalcade album in 2012.