BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Ben Miller seems the ideal candidate to be tagged as an all American boy. Boasting rugged good looks and an actual heartland pedigree, this Joplin, Missouri, resident would seem perfectly poised to helm a group of fiddle frenzied, banjo-plucking Americana auteurs. With only one previous independent album to their credit, they can still be classified as newcomers — relatively speaking anyway — but their affinity for bluegrass and mountain music is all too evident.
“The Outsider,” “Hurry Up and Wait” and “Twinkle Toes” all attest to that, but what’s also obvious is that they’re not necessarily confined to any particular parameters. The jaunty “23 Skidoo” sounds like something the Bonzo Dog Band might tackle, or even a move the Beatles might have made during a particularly euphoric dust-up. Likewise, the twisted take on the traditional folk song “The Cuckoo” defies the usual standard interpretations, going from a fierce rave-up to a muddled cacophony, while leaving any and all genteel notions behind.
As its name suggests, Any Way, Shape or Form is a tidy mishmash of blustery boogie, down home designs and a well-heeled backwoods stomp… with a fun and frivolous outlook to boot. Oh, and it also rocks like hell.
DOWNLOAD: “The Outsider,” “Hurry Up and Wait,” “23 Skidoo”