Band – Miller and the Hunks
Album/Label – And Jeff, Part 1 / Unsigned
Rating – 3.25 / 5

After seeing Colin Miller and his Hunks perform live at The Tree Bar in September, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of their new disc And Jeff, Part 1.  The EP is named after a hilarious faux Jeopardy skit and is the first piece of a two-part EP series, with Part 2 set to release at the end of the year.

The album opens with a slow and ominous string of chords from guitarist Jon Leonard and bassist Josiah Ogden. Miller’s distressed voice trickles in and drowns you in anguish as he belts out, “Never again, never again will I bleed for you,” on the chorus. The song is dark and powerful, and right up front you realize that this isn’t going to be a typical Miller record.

“It’s kind of grim,” says Miller, “but part two will be different in every aspect.”

You get a real insight into the vocal prowess of the ringleader in his wailing on Gravity. His voice is truly unique and again he paints a tormented picture. “The fuck do you want me to do now? Wait three more years as you figure it out? I hope you finish second in this scenario!” It’s obvious that he has insight on broken relationships, and if you’ve ever gone through anything even close to what he’s singing about, I guarantee you’ll latch right on to this record. Gravity features a heavy dose of keyboards and even shows a workman’s spirit of hope on the chorus.

Credit: yaokingofrock

Track three, Sailor Johnny’s, opens with a slow building drum piece from Ethan Box and  a stuttering verse from Miller. Leonard spends a little more time on the smaller strings on his guitar, and even sprinkles in a little bit of piano to offset the sludge in Ogden’s bass-line.

The first single release from the “And Jeff” series was Wicked Tongue, which immediately opens with a mournful scream from Miller. Ogden and Leonard provide harmony as Miller growls his way through this catchy number, which features a screaming guitar solo as its mid-song crescendo. If you weren’t listening to the lyrics, you might actually want to hop down on the dance floor and jam around to this groovy number. It’s definitely my favorite, and shows a growing amount of maturity in the band as a whole, especially held against the other seven songs.

Glimpse dials things back, with an acoustic guitar opening over Miller singing falsetto. This song is possibly the most bizarre, yet serious track from the record, with a skittery snare, buzzy synths, and haunting keys on the chorus. It almost seems out of place, except that all of the songs on And Jeff, Part 1 have their own bizarre little intricacies that make them stand out among the rest.

Stapled Shut features Ogden singing lead, before Miller joins during the first verse and chorus. The guitars and bass are dialed back in a style that could be construed as a southern rock/country effort. The band does a great job mixing in the harmonious voices of their two string-men alongside Miller and his signature tortured wails. I can’t say I love this song, as it seems to depart from the vibe of the earlier tunes.

Credit: yaokingofrock

The direction of the album becomes even more muddled on Seasons, aka the harmonica song. It’s another acoustic opening with twangy guitars and plaintive lyrics. “Truth be told, we are leaving here. Truth be told, I’m scared to death.”  It’s a song that features cowbell, tambourine, and even some percussive hits from Miller himself, as he adds “only seasons change…” The song gets more interesting and strange as it plods on, and actually makes for a good closing song for a live set.

Lastly, we have Bath Haus. The song has two lines and is literally just the guys dicking around and singing about their house, aka The Bath Haus. It’s a quick wrap-up to the darkness and is par for the course when you take into account just how goofy and lighthearted the guys actually are in real life.

Listening to how Part 1 wraps up makes me wonder what little surprises the band has in store for Part 2. The first part is definitely darker and features a departure from the key-heavy sound of previous Miller records. It’s ambitious and mature and leaves you wanting more once it’s all said and done. The high points definitely outweigh the low, and I have a feeling that the next release will follow suit.

Tracklist

  1. Lonestar
  2. Gravity
  3. Sailor Johnny’s
  4. Wicked Tongue
  5. Glimpse
  6. Stapled Shut
  7. Seasons
  8. Bath Haus

Miller and The Hunks – Wicked Tongue