Fuelled By Jealous Lovers
Clwb Ifor Bach
— September 5th
Ben Miller Band
Dark Valley Revival
£15 / 7:00pm / 16+
«I like the idea of saying something very complicated in a very simple way,» Ben Miller states. «That's what we strive for musically, and what I strive for lyrically—to get directly to the point.»
Getting to the point is something that the Ben Miller Band does consistently on Choke Cherry Tree, the Joplin, Missouri-bred combo's third album and second New West release. The consistently compelling set offers 11 new examples of Miller's deceptively unpretentious songcraft, beneath whose ramshackle exterior lurks sturdy, infectious melodies and resonant, emotionally insightful lyrics.
Miller's band delivers such memorable new tunes as «Nothing Gets Me Down,» «Akira Kurosawa,» «Trapeze,» «Lighthouse» and «Mississippi Cure» with the sort of unpretentious enthusiasm that's already won the group a devoted fan base that stretches from the band's midwestern home turf to the U.K. and Europe, where they've toured to rave reviews.
Since its formation in 2004, the Ben Miller Band has staked out an iconoclastic niche that's established them as both a one-of-a-kind creative unit and a grass-roots fan favorite. Channeling a century's worth of far-flung American musical influences into rousing songcraft that radiates with smarts and soul, Miller's tunes achieve a musical and emotional depth that belies the material's (and the musicians') rough exterior.
The hard-working unit first won a regional fan base through old-fashioned ingenuity and an unstinting work ethic, generating a national buzz and a high-profile 2013 tour of Europe with ZZ Top, thanks to the patronage of avowed BMB fan Billy Gibbons.
The Ben Miller Band's early D.I.Y. approach extended to the lo-tech, largely self-built, instruments that the members still play on stage, including Miller's thrift-shop guitars and banjos and Scott Leeper's one-string washtub bass. The band's use of offbeat instrumentation, however, shouldn't be misunderstood as a gimmick.
«What I really care about is songs, and the rest of it is just a vehicle to get you to that destination,» Miller asserts, adding, «We have no interest in being some kind of wacky novelty act, and just because we use junk to make music doesn't mean we aren't serious about it.»