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A Little Bit Faster and a Little Bit Worse

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Album Review

Most live albums are redundant affairs, usually put out by major labels when a big act needs to buy some time while they finish up their next supposed blockbuster. The Devil Makes Three poke fun at this industry paradigm with the title of their first live album, and while the tunes may be played a bit faster than on their CDs, they are by no means worse. Live, the trio — this time a sometime quartet augmented by fiddler Chojo Jacques — puts on an unruly, uncontained show, captured here in all its lo-fi charm. The picking on "Bangor Mash," "Man Tap," and "Beneath the Piano" is indeed faster and most impressive, with Lucia Turino's rippling bass runs on "Man Tap" particularly effective. Jacques adds his country-jazz work to familiar Devil tunes like "Tow" and "North Carolina," and energizes four tunes the band tackles here for the first time on record, three covers and one original. "Uncle Harvey's Plane" by Nashville Songwriting Hall of Fame member Red Lane, is the tale of a country boy who decides to become a drunken skydiver using his uncle's rickety airplane. Cooper McBean picks the banjo with a flurry of 32nd notes that makes the instrument sound like a mandolin, while Jacques' fiddle adds jazzy, jaunty accents. "Jug Band" is the folk fave "My Gal" and it revolves around Jacques' ragtime fiddle solo, while "St. James" aka "Saint James Infirmary" starts out at the expected doleful pace. McBean sings lead in a boozy, bleary voice full of resignation, then the tempo shifts into double time giving Jacques a chance to lay down some smoking fiddle work. "Robot" features some rudimentary folk harmonica (The credits don't say who's blowing harp) and imagines what life on the road might be like with a huge hit song. It's full of hyperbolic images that make success seem like a big pain in the ass, delivered with tongue firmly in cheek. McBean's guitar solo combines blues, bluegrass, and country elements and Jacques' ragtime fiddle brings the tune home. Fans will like hearing the band stretch out on old favorites and get five new tunes to enjoy, while newcomers will find this an excellent introduction to a band with their own loose, punky ragtime style. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews

These Guys Rock

Saw them live in a small club, it was a great time! They have catchy, foot-tappin' songs with great lyrics!

Above and beyond

I saw The Devil Makes Three at a block party in Oregon. The sound system was horrible (not their fault), but despite it they managed to absolutely rock. This album really captures the amazing feeling of their live shows.

Not a fan of live recorded music

That said, this album is an excellent work. This band is as tight live as they are in the studio. Accurate, passionate, loud and crystal clear...


Formed: 2002 in Santa Cruz, CA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s, '10s

As a drummerless acoustic trio consisting of two guitarists and a string bassist, the Devil Makes Three are not your normal alt-country band. While deeply rooted in the blues and country music, they enthusiastically incorporate elements of bluegrass, ragtime, and jug band traditions as well. The group also makes no bones about its punk rock influences, and despite the lack of a drummer, it always plays with the needs of dancers in mind. Although the Devil Makes Three consist entirely of New Englanders...
Full Bio