Ben Miller Band Any Way, Shape Or Form on 180g LP + Download Card
“I like the idea of saying something very complicated in a very simple way,” says Ben Miller, discussing the trio that bears his name. “That’s what we strive for musically, and what I strive for lyrically - to get directly to the point and save the flowery b.s. for the romantic poets. John Sargent, the painter, said ‘That which is not necessary is detrimental,’ and we try to live by that.”
Since its formation in 2004, the Ben Miller Band has staked out a singular niche that’s established the Joplin, Missouri threesome as both a potent creative force and a perennial fan favorite. Any Way, Shape or Form, the BMB’s New West debut release, showcases the seasoned threesome’s fierce creative spirit and infectious performing chemistry, as well as Miller’s melodically catchy, lyrically resonant songwriting.
On Any Way, Shape or Form, the Ben Miller Band channels a century’s worth of wide-ranging influences into 13 new songs that radiate with energy, smarts and soul. The result is music that’s wholly contemporary, while ringing with ages-old echoes of bluegrass, delta blues, Appalachian mountain music and more. A stew they lovingly call “Ozark stomp.”
Miller writes roots-rocking barnburners (“The Outsider,” “Burning Building”), thoughtful ballads (“I Feel for You,” “Prettiest Girl”) and left-field departures (“23 Skidoo”) with melodic skill and lyrical insight, and the band elucidates them with urgency and eloquence. While those tunes show off Miller’s songwriting craftsmanship, a memorable workout on the traditional “The Cuckoo” underlines the band’s interpretive abilities.
The hard working threesome has already won a substantial - and still-growing - grassroots fan base through old-fashioned ingenuity and an unstinting work ethic. Their D.I.Y. success helped to win the band its current deal with New West, and led to some high profile touring with ZZ Top, thanks to the enthusiastic patronage of avowed fan Billy Gibbons. Opening for ZZ Top on a 2013 tour of Europe, the humble BMB wowed unfamiliar crowds on stages in large halls and arenas, including a triumphant set at the fabled Montreaux Jazz Festival.
The Ben Miller Band’s homespun, self-reliant approach extends to the lo-tech, and largely self-built, instruments that the members play on stage and in the studio, e.g. singer-songwriter Miller’s thrift-shop guitars and banjos, bassist Scott Leeper’s one-string washtub bass – comprised of a weedeater string attached to a wooden pole – and Doug Dicharry’s varied arsenal: trombone, trumpet, mandolin, electric washboard and electric spoons.
The band’s use of offbeat instrumentation, however, shouldn’t be misunderstood as a gimmick. Instead, the three bandmates have mastered the technical challenges of their unconventional axes to produce a uniquely evocative ensemble sound that offers a compelling frame for Miller’s compositions.
The same maverick spirit that motivated the BMB’s early musical adventures came into play in the recording Any Way, Shape or Form, which they cut with seasoned producer Vance Powell, who’s renowned for his studio work with the likes of Jack White, Buddy Guy, Wanda Jackson, Willie Nelson and Kings of Leon.
Ben Miller Band Any Way, Shape Or Form Track Listing:
1. The Outsider
2. You Don’t Know
4. Hurry Up And Wait
5. I Feel For You
6. 23 Skidoo
7. Burning Building
8. The Cuckoo
9. Twinkle Toes
10. Life On Wheels
11. No War
12. Prettiest Girl
13. King Kong