In Review: "And Jeff, Pt. 1," Miller and the Hunks

Writer: Sam Kayuha.

On October 13th, Miller and the Hunks released its new EP, “And Jeff, Pt. 1.” The eight-song collection is the third release to the band’s name, and it precedes the forthcoming “Pt. 2,” scheduled to drop in February.

The band hails from what frontman Colin Miller calls the “hillbilly outskirts” of Columbus: Marysville, Plain City and Mechanicsburg. Miller played all the instruments on the first two releases, but brought in Josiah Ogden, Jon Leonard and Ethan Joseph in 2015. The group relocated to Columbus in March. 

Photo: Burson "Walleye" Sprague.

Photo: Burson "Walleye" Sprague.

“And Jeff” is inspired by the full spectrum of rock music, from the classic rock of the ‘70s to the emo era a decade ago. The band seems to teeter on the edge of heavier stuff, but often pulls back into a melodic chorus or harmonica lick. At times, “Lonestar,” the opening track, feels ready to crash into screamo territory, but the restraint shows there can be power in quieter moments.  

Despite the depth of inspiration, Miller’s vocals are what truly make its sound distinct. His voice has the unique character of an Ian Curtis or Matt Berninger, separating the Hunks from bands that make similar music. All four members contribute to the vocals on the record, resulting in a fascinating cocktail of voices.

The instrumentals are largely conventional, but there is something to be said for tone. It is the kind of work that makes a believer in the neuroses and particularities of musicians. Because when they get it right, the outcome is the indescribable character of “And Jeff.” There is the sense that each musician on the record hit just what they were shooting for, whether they really did or not.

“Gravity” is driven by a static-like keyboard line, and a guitar which sprinkles notes above it. It balances a finger-snapping melody with a menacing tone, leaving the listener feeling like they’re being pulled in multiple directions. “Wicker Tongue” grooves with its bassline and punches with its guitar. “Seasons” features the unexpected harmonica riff, which is indicative of this work as a whole; there is no sense of what is coming next, but it is never not rewarding.

Miller has worked with producer Jack Campitelli since his earliest recordings When Campitelli moved to Nashville in 2015, Miller couldn’t let him go. Miller helped tear down the old studio and set up the new one. He was paid in studio time that the band used to record the 16 songs that make up both parts of “And Jeff.”

“We didn’t want to release a 16-song album,” Miller said. “We split them, picking darker ones for the October release. Part 2 will be songs that fit the winter.”

“And Jeff, Pt. 1” can be heard on all streaming sites. The band can also be seen for free this Saturday at Lucky’s in Marysville, located at 17811 OH-31. Doors are at 9pm.

For more information on the band, CLICK HERE.