Fort Wayne’s Miles High are a five-piece band that takes a mix of ska, hip-hop, rock and reggae and churn out a kind of party music that quite often works well. Other times though, their genre-hopping from one song to the other (and at times within the same song) can get a little old. But if you’re out and about, got your red cap on backwards and are looking for a party, Pleasure Playground can get you started. Before I continue, I must say that Miles High can play. They’re a tight party band. They’ve got the chops and play a style of uptempo rock n’ roll that lots of folks would find a lot of fun in. And Maurice Boyd III, when not dropping into his rap rock flow, has a hell of a voice. I can’t help but imagine a Mr. Bungle-era Mike Patton when he sings. (That’s a compliment, by the way.) Andy Murfield adds some saxophone to these songs, and when he plays in moderation it adds a whole other layer to the sound of Miles High.
On album opener “Let It Go” drummer Ryan Moreno gives us some Neil Peart-isms at the end with some great roto tom fills. This track has a funky vibe mixed with Boyd’s gruff but melodic voice. “Pleasure Playground” tends to fall into the category of obnoxious, with a “Lucas with the Lid Off” flow and “green eggs and ham” rhyming with “smoke a gram.” Creative.
Elsewhere you find Alien Ant Farm and Papa Roach colliding in “Shame,” da Police man comin’ for ya in “5-0,” with Boyd playing the role of both Rastafarian and rapper. There’s also some partying in barns going on in “Party in Barns,” which sounds like a B-side off of David Lee Roth’s Eat ’Em and Smile. “Dixie Wrecked” has some bar band 12-bar blues fun going on, while “Headphones” has some great rhythm section interplay and some cool spidery guitar lines. “Funk No” seems to be channeling something between Rage Against The Machine and Faith No More, with mixed results. A high point (no pun intended) on Pleasure Playground is the song “Freaks ‘N’ Losers.” It’s got a great funk vibe reminiscent of Fishbone and Uplift Mofo Party Plan-era Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s a fun song where everything clicks – definitely a formula the band should use more often.
Miles High are young-ish dudes that have the chops to pull off some dirty, horn-fueled funk. It’s party music that I’m sure could fuel some booty-shakin’ well into the night. A little refinement in the genre-hopping could do these guys a world of good.