The Devil Makes Three album review: ‘I’m a Stranger Here’


The Devil Makes Three will perform in the Washington, DC area. (Piper Ferguson)
November 14, 2013
THE DEVIL MAKES THREE
“I’m a Stranger Here”

Kindred spirits: Trampled by Turtles, Hackensaw Boys

Show: With Shakey Graves on Friday at the 9:30 Club. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 202-265-0930. www.930.com. $17.50.

Acoustic punk-blues trio the Devil Makes Three has spent more than a decade earning fans the hard way — pounding the grass-roots club circuit with raucous, foot-stomping hoedowns. With its new album, “I’m a Stranger Here,” the group has made a recording to match its live prowess.

The California band traveled to Nashville to get production help from Americana stalwart Buddy Miller in crafting a punchy set of vintage string-band jaunts.

Miller hovers around the periphery of Music City slickness, but he didn’t meddle with the foundational energy of the band’s DIY ethos. Instead, he helped flesh out the group’s variety of influences.

The album kicks into high gear with opener “Stranger,” a sinister, hot-jazz body shaker that flows with frontman Pete Bernhard’s edgy, fast-tongued delivery.

On “Forty Days,” Bernhard wonders how a biblical storm would wash away a modern city all the while backed by a jug-band shuffle with a gospel-flavored call-and-response and horn blasts from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The mood is more somber on “A Moments Rest,” a weary ballad with primitive banjo strumming that recalls an old field recording.

The throwback vibe notwithstanding, the track “Dead Body Moving,” with string-busting rhythms charging with a garage beat and a fiddle running furious enough for a mosh pit, is a reminder that the band grew up on rock.

Jedd Ferris

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