Four years ago, the possibilities looked pretty good for Jake Miller to break into mainstream. Fresh off a one-album deal and a successful North American tour, Miller announced he would be signing with Warner Brothers Records.
The deal was for five albums. Miller was blocked from releasing even one album, but he did make quite a few EP’s – none of which captured the energy he gave off as an unsigned, independent artist. I watched all of this happen and slowly began to lose hope for Miller to ever build off the impressive, if sometimes boyishly charming, debut album “Us Against Them”. It was clear he was being held out by a label from releasing an album until he achieved a radio hit. And somehow the timing just never hit.
And then came the surprise: A week ago Miller announced on Instagram that he would be releasing a new album titled 2:00am In L.A. The details started to quickly sprinkle out – six months ago Miller had ended an eight year relationship with his girlfriend, parted ways with his label, and cancelled a tour all in the span of a week. He began recording a new album to distract himself – and to finally put out another fully realized body of work. The creation was an album about thoughts he’d have late at night in the city of stars.
To be fair, 2:00am in L.A. is not without it’s flaws. The lyrics are not as unique as they could be; the themes have all been covered before by other artists. But Miller’s earnestness wins out. His beats have also never been better. In a recent interview with Zach Sang, Miller explained he bought equipment at Guitar Center and started producing songs in his bedroom. On tracks like “Lost Time” and “Can’t Help Myself” Miller pushes his sound towards an innovative direction he’s never explored.
It’s an accomplishment for Miller to finally release 2:00am in L.A. but it’s even more impressive that he made the album for free, with the help of only 8 people and during one of the most turbulent times of his life. My favorite nod to hardcore fans on the album is the last track “Back to the Start.” The song’s premise of the end of a relationship is simple enough, but the song’s concept could easily apply to the start of Miller’s career. It’s the only track Miller raps on, and it’s a clear reference to the music he was making before he was signed to Warner Brothers. “Back to the Start” is a melancholy track to end the album on, but it’s also hopeful. It makes me excited to hear what Miller will be releasing over the next few months. If his admission on Sang’s show is true that he will be releasing new projects every few months, we have some serious growth to look forward to.