This is, without a doubt, one of the greatest albums I’ve ever heard. Holly heard about the band through an article somewhere… probably Seattle Weekly… and picked up this CD. As soon as I heard the song “Graveyard” for the first time I knew this was something different, something way outside the types of music I normally listen to, but absolutely amazing.
Just a leanin’ on my shovel
In this graveyard of dreams,
Yeah that’s me
I picked up this vinyl re-release a few months back even though we already had the CD, in part because I want to support the band and also because there were four live bonus tracks included that we didn’t have. I’m not sure if the new version of the CD also has the live tracks, but you can check it out on the band’s website.
So what kind of music does The Devil Makes Three create? They don’t fit neatly into a genre, which is probably a good sign. They’re a three piece with no drums – two guitarists (often with at least one of them playing banjo) and a stand up bass. There’s bluegrass here, and blues, some country, and a healthy dose of punk. The stripped down sound really helps them create the mood that fits their songs, many of which are about people that seem to fall outside of the societal mainstream – people struggling to get by, boozers, badasses and criminals… but telling their stories in ways that emphasize their humanity.
But I don’t come round here to meet nice people anyway,
And what the hell am I doin’ drunk in the middle of the day,
And I can feel the departure of all my hard earned pay,
But with the shades drawn everything just drifts away.
The band paces their songs well to establish the appropriate mood, with many of the tracks on The Devil Makes Three slow, steady, and deep – the trio really know how to get the most out of their instruments. Pete Bernhard’s vocals are rich and emotional, and while Cooper McBean doesn’t have any vocal leads on this particular album, his voice is a really great contrast to Bernhard’s, with a much more gravely old school country sound. Bassist Lucia Turino sings backing on a number of tracks while also helping the band keep time, and there’s a desperation in her voice much of the time that really plays well off of her bandmates. The way the three of them come together vocally on Dynamite is particularly notable.
And I will rob till my fingers they are down to the bone,
Wander till I can’t remember my own home,
Drink till I don’t know the meanin’ of alone,
Until that bullet flies to carry me home.
Holly and I have seen The Devil Makes Three live probably five or six times in Seattle, and we’re going to catch them again at The Showbox in November. Their live shows have an amazing energy – they’re pacing is often much faster than on their albums, and the crowd is really active with a sort of dance-mosh that often breaks out in front of the stage. The two songs that consistently get the biggest rise out of the crowd are “Old Number Seven”, with the entire crowd chiming in for the chorus, “Thank you Jack Daniels / Old Number Seven / Tennessee whiskey got me drinkin’ in heaven”, and “The Bullet”, which the audience sings at full volume in it’s entirety.
You really need to do yourself a favor and check out The Devil Makes Three, and this self-titled album is the perfect introduction.