Well this is fun. The opening line of the Spotify bio: "The Devil Makes Three is kind of a strange band." Seriously, that's how you're going to open this up? Well, okay then.
This is an acoustic trio with two guitarists and a string bassist - no drummer. They're described as a blues and country band, with elements of bluegrass, ragtime, and jug band traditions, completely open about their punk rock influences and desire to always keep the dancers in the audience in mind. What kind of strange, wonderful rabbit hole have I fallen into here?
Read the cover by the way - the full title: "Stomp and Smash and Slash and Crash and Bash and Bust and Burn: Live at the Mystic Theatre."
Indeed, this is a live album, and you'd think Elvis was starting things up by the opening strums of "For Good Again." The punk/country sound? It rocks! The voice is southern, hitting these oddly punk notes that most definitely provide a dancing rhythm on the floor. I can see, right off the bat, how this concert would be a ton of fun for just about anything. The lyrics are far more edgy than bluegrass tends to get, and hot damn, are these guys good. This is a video from a HearYa Live Session back in 2009. Just... just check it out, ok?
Beats can get really old in this genre, so let's hope for the best here. "This Life" does have a melody all of its own. Love this lyrical work: "this life, it ain't right for everybody, but it sure's been good to me." What a ridiculously positive sentiment. The verses are all about the tough times he's been through, but if he can take the chorus' sentiment at the end of it all, well, damn, things really are okay. This one's great for the rough times, for sure.
"Tow" seriously songs like a road song - we're traveling down some crazy dusty path with a bluegrass band in tow. I know, I need to stop making up my own stories to music. This song's a little darker in tone of voice, and the bass is playing much stronger than anything else. This one seems to be a crowd favorite, as people hoot and holler throughout, getting into the lyrics more than the music. God, a crowd for this band must be so much fun.
Some kind of great, gritty violin comes in for "Odd Number Seven." I would have expected this to be an instrumental track if this were just a bluegrass band but this is clearly something different. ...This is about Jack No. 7. Amen brothers, amen. There's some lines about the firey deeps in there too, but who cares? We're drinkin'. The song is more solemn than the rest so far, but the audience is enjoying is just as much, and they know every single word. Here's a nicely done live music video of the song:
I'd venture to say that "Never Learn" is a pop-punk song, yet of course the choice of instruments makes it so much more. Gah, I love cross-over acts. The complexity of trying to identify their style is the best kind of frustrating. It's honestly hard for me to think of what to say here. I don't love this in its entirety for some reason, but then, at least, this downward harmony comes in during the chorus that's so cool and pleasing to the ears. The rest of the song is fine, just fine, and keeps up the odd little down but intriguing mood we've had going this whole time.
"They Call That Religion" is really interesting. It's actually sort of fun - a minor comment on the church and living by its standards, and the hypocrites that live by it. Where, oh where, was this song when I was in high school and dealing with a "christian" at my church? *sigh* I discover things too late in life sometimes. Nonetheless, the song's pretty funny, and pretty pointedly so. It doesn't just take one sect, by the way. Go on, try listening and tell me you're not nodding along at some point during the progression. It's downright impossible to do so. Ahhh life.
The next one starts out so beautifully, just slightly slower than the rest, then builds into a fast, furious rhythm and words on life and the craziness we persue throughout it. The idea of the song, "if you're gonna do wrong, buddy, Do Wrong Right" is so funny, and so true. I mean, hell, if you're going to get in trouble, do it to the fullest you can and get the most out of it! Man, if you're not throwing your hands up and having fun with this one, you are so not my friend. It's a great let-go number in every respect. The description on this video I found is awesome. Check out an in-studio performance from WNYC.
The final song for this recorded show is "Help Yourself." This last number has lots of religious allusion throughout, with the final say that you have to help yourself through life, and the people that do are the ones that God "helps." Kind of a mind-twisting concept if you try to wrap your head around it. There's some fantastic string solos by everyone in this as well, probably giving one last chance to jam out and show off before things get wrapped up.
Added to My Playlist:
- "For Good Again"
- "This Life"
- "Old Number Seven"
- "Do Wrong Right"
- "Black Irish"
I've been incredibly pleased lately with these reviews of bands and artists I've never heard of. We're really discovering some incredible new music, and The Devil Makes Three is certainly a part of that. This band was just an amazing ride from beginning to end, and one I would totally pay money to see (I don't say that often enough). The fact that they can adapt to so many different genres and types of people is fascinating, and their talent is the reason. More, please.