Q: What do Slinkies, Play Doh, and Shambles Miller have in common?
A: They’re fun and were discovered by chance.
It took a bit of detective work to discover the handwritten chalk message indicating that I had the right alleyway, but The Cellar (just off of Glasgow’s Queen St) is an interesting wee place. It has glittery skulls above the bar. This is a bit of a contrast to the alley it’s located in, which resembles a mid-tier boss mission from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City strongly enough that I had an urge to check behind a dumpster for ammo and a bulletproof vest before descending the stairs.
My reward for such intrepidness was a set by Shambles Miller, a lovely man who plays clever, acoustic songs with pop-culture references scattered like the sprinkles on Homer’s doughnut. His choice of subject ranges wildly from immortality and an amicable breakup through to the Rapture and Things That Make Me Angry, a more political effort in protest of the misplaced anger he feels should be harnessed to change the world. What binds these disparate topics together is Miller’s articulate style and the fact he clearly loves what he does. His humour is at times reminiscent of The Barenaked Ladies at their If I Had $1,000,000 peak: warm, slightly self-deprecating and easy to identify with. He chats away to the audience, adding little asides and anecdotes:
“If you’re offended by the mention of the Rapture in my next tune, you can just pretend I’m saying ‘raptors’, as in ‘velociraptors’. It still works. Kind of.”
The single ‘Confessions’ is an alternative look at a breakup, taking positives from the good times shared instead of doing a Taylor Swift and complaining for a whole album. With dodgy David Bowie impressions, a catchy chorus and the admission that “I never really liked your Mum,” it’s probably the most fun you can have listening to a song about the end of a relationship.
Shambles only has one other single out at present, ‘Deadpool’, which poses the thorny question of what life would be like if you couldn’t die, with many a nod to the likes of X-Men’s Wolverine or Highlander. Like the rest of his music the combination of a unique subject, softly-spoken daftness and some interesting food for thought is in evidence.
It’s the kind of music that brightens your day and I’d love to see him make some more. It’s definitely worth seeing him live if the Shambles train rolls into a town near you, even if you have to negotiate threatening side streets to do so.