Scott Miller, driving force of West Coast indie rockers Game Theory, passed away on April 15 at 53 years old. Trawling for pop-culture parallels to the importance of his band, you could achieve equal accuracy in calling them the alt-rock era’s Big Star or the proto-Guided By Voices.
Game Theory, which singer/songwriter Miller founded in 1981 in Davis, CA, followed Big Star’s example by synthesizing ‘60s British Invasion influences into something more modern. At the same time, they set an example of their own for the GBVs of the world to follow -- they combined classic pop sensibilities with off-kilter production techniques and sometimes archly inscrutable lyrics, for a sound still visceral and vital enough to appeal to an diehard cult following. In doing so, they established a kind of college-rock cottage industry that rode below the radar of the mainstream music scene.
From 1982 to 1988, the prolific Game Theory released eight records full of sweetly psychedelic-tinged, appealingly idiosyncratic gems. Real Nighttime, Big Shot Chronicles, and Lolita Nation in particular found them at the top of their game, providing their small-but-eager army of admirers resonant rallying cries and influencing a new generation of indie artists. Not content to leave his legacy at that, Miller started the somewhat similarly inclined Loud Family in the early ‘90s.
Along with a sad, startling announcement of Miller’s passing, the front page of the Loud Family website is now offering free download links for the out-of-print Game Theory discography. Webmaster Sue Trowbridge states, “My main goal is to prevent people from trying to capitalize by selling these long out-of-print albums for lots of money. I want everybody who would like to hear these albums to be able to do so without paying outrageous prices.” So whether you’re new to the indelible output of Scott Miller or due for a refresher course in Game Theory’s transcendent tunes, the band’s late leader and his legacy are ready and waiting for discovery.