Ben Miller Band: Any Way, Shape or Form

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First Posted: 10/31/2014

ZZ Top has taken some of the most legendary acts of AOR on the road with them as their opening act over the course of their 45 years together,.

From KISS to Johnny and Edgar Winter to Aerosmith to Blue Öyster Cult to Slade to Neil Young to the Reverend Horton Heat and then some, they’ve included a wide range.

The Ben Miller Band out of Joplin, Montana, have been enjoying their new membership in this elite fraternity of artists as they have spent a good portion of the last two years on the road with the Texas blooze-rock icons’ on their North American Tour, where they will pick back up with ZZ for their March 17, 2015 date in Montreal.

Make no mistake, Miller and his trio consisting of Doug Dicharry and Scott Leeper have earned their place on this most coveted warm-up slot in American rock, delivering perhaps the most hard-charging and musically diverse album their label New West has ever released with their outstanding sophomore set, Any Way, Shape or Form.

These cats come at you with a fire and brimstone voracity the likes of which we haven’t seen since Sackcloth ‘n’ Ashes-era 16 Horsepower with their distinct brand of “Ozark Stomp” crafted through the use of electrified homemade instruments, including a set of spoons they run through a wah-wah pedal, blurring the line between Doc Watson and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on tracks like “You Don’t Know”, “Hurry Up and Wait” and the downright trippy “The Cuckoo”.

There are also moments on Form that showcase an air of old time elegance and pop savvy. It transcends the feral rabble of its overall oeuvre, particularly in the context of the record’s final two cuts: the acid-tongued country waltz “Prettiest Girl” and “King Kong”, a solo acoustic turn from Miller. The latter paints the most sympathetic portrait of the poor old primate ever laid to wax (sorry, Kinks and Frank Zappa), while mirroring a kind of internal skepticism regarding how his own way of music making is viewed with the closing refrain, “Its a shame to be seen as this novelty thing by the members of the cold-hearted press.”

However, if certain critics cannot look beyond their unorthodox means of creation, they are really missing out on the Americana album of 2014.