The Devil Makes Three – self titled LP (Review)

Devil Makes Three on the TT

There is something right about The Devil Makes Three‘s reissue of their 2002 eponymous debut’s availability on vinyl LP.

The Devil Makes Three is a trio from San Francisco who plays music in a style that is largely influenced by folk but draws additional color and rhythm from 20’s and 30’s blues and bluegrass as well as drawing from a punk ethos. What does this mean? If you like the Violent Femmes first record or bands like 16 Horsepower, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, and possibly The Gun Club this band is for you. The headstones of death, drinking and disappointment carved with vocals, acoustic guitars, and stand-up bass.

Which is why I say that The Devil Makes Three’s record is fittingly on vinyl in addition to it’s future-shock CD and digital download versions. I can’t think of a better way to join Pete Bernhard in “Old Number Seven” than to knock a couple of fingers back of the song’s tribute neat while their 180g record spins in the background!

As a side note, the first time I heard “Old Number Seven” its scrubby 1-2 strumming reminded of the Pixies “Mr. Grieves.” Reading the press bio they do cite the Pixies as an influence.

The record was originally released in 2002 by Snazzy Productions, which apparently still carries the original version as well as the band’s 2004 effort Longjohns, Boots, and a Belt and their 2006 live album A Little Bit Faster And A Little Bit Worse. These last two are also carried by CDBaby who has Pete Bernhard’s solo CD Things I Left Behind, too. When Milan Records signed the band they started with their first release and appended four bonus tracks of live and demo tracks from 2002 and 2003. It was a good choice to reissue this album– all of the tracks are well-written and performed by the band and the lyrics are impressive. Pete’s lyrics paint the perfect picture– one track I particularly like is “Graveyard.”

“Well that’s Me / Just a’leanin on my shovel / In this graveyard of dreams”

The thing that gets me about this line is how completely it describes the situation. Not only is the narrator living in a graveyard of dreams– he’s actually digging the holes in which his dreams lie!

The vinyl release of The Devil Makes Three is a single jacket with new album artwork that is done with old engravings which suits the period-feel of the music contained within. The front cover is pretty simple and the back cover has the full lyrics printed for the ten original songs– not the bonus cuts. I don’t have the original release to compare the album art or the remastering, however the record sounds fantastic on my turntable. I suspect, however, that because they advertise the album as “Digitally Remastered” that they did that first and then mastered the vinyl. I would have prefered that they would have done a separate mastering of the vinyl from the original tapes. It could be the case that the original work was recorded digitally, I suppose. The remastering was handled by Christian Dwiggins at The Engine Room.

I have a mid-line Gemini turntable with an Audio Technica cartridge playing through a five-year-old Sony AV receiver and Polk Audio S-10’s that are coming up on 12 years old. My setup is purely functional. Still, it sounds great to my ears. I enjoy listening to vinyl because it forces me to deliberately sit down and listen to the music, and this album stands up to a beginning-to-end listening.

Listen or Download a full version of “Old No. 7”

Listen to other mp3 samples of tracks at the Milan Records Page.

Visit The Devil Makes Three’s MySpace Page to hear other tracks.