Posted on October 30th, 2013 (9:00 am) by Jesse Clark

There’s something so genuine about The Devil Makes Three when you hear them start playing, it’s hard to believe that they’re actually from they’re from the 21st century. If it wasn’t for the hard rock aspect of their music, we wouldn’t argue with someone if they told me they were recorded in the 1920s. These guys sound like they came straight from the Grand Ole Opry. We know that you’re probably thinking to yourself, “I don’t want to listen to the same music as my great-grandmother.” The thing is, your great-grandma would’ve most likely had a stroke upon hearing the intensity of TDM3.

Santa Cruz happens to be where the trio likes to do their dirty work. When Pete Bernhard (guitarist), Lucia Turino (upright bassist), and Cooper McBean (guitarist and tenor banjo) get together they make for a hellish good time. From influences of Steve Earle to Iron Maiden, these guys keep things on the fringe of bluegrass. They’re the poster children for modern day jug bands. TDM3 lacks a drummer but this in no way diminishes the power of their music because they create their own heart pounding rhythms from their own individual playing; a true demonstration of good teamwork and chemistry between band members.

Their fourth full-length I’m a Stranger Here (released on Oct. 29), shows true grit from a band in a era of music in which all people care about is a manufactured backbeat behind ear curdling bass and computerized vocals. The record is an old-timey revue of sorts dealing with themes of mortality, relationships, addiction, and childhood. We give praise to Bernhard’s vocals which resonate throughout the songs and our bodies. There’s a lot of passion on I’m a Stranger Here that’s nothing less than exhilarating. The guitar screams its way past the ensemble and becomes its own entity while Turino argues with it using her strong bass playing. When the banjo steps in to help out get a battle royale of pure bluegrass. They describe their sound as "garage-y ragtime," "punkified blues," and "old n’ new timey," all demonstrated to near perfection. The new album shows a lot of diversity between songs while still maintaining a consistent atmosphere throughout the whole thirty-five minutes.

“Stranger” opens the album up with an eerie vibe by sounding like a crossover between Johnny Cash and a Tim Burton film. It sounds sort of like gothic gospel, if that’s even a thing (if not, now it is). Bernhard seems to be trying to wake the dead with his howling guitar licks while Turino and McBean juggle to sustain a chord progression and syncopate a rhythm almost effortlessly.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band team up with TDM3 on “Forty Days,” a gospel rag that laments about the unpredictability of weather, citing Hurricane Katrina and a Brattleboro flood as influences for writing the track. The song ends up in a straight up New Orleans-style jazz jam that makes the collaboration one of the more clever ideas on the album.

“Hand Back Down” has a Creedence Clearwater Revival likeness to it, minus the Fogerty aspect. It’s probably one of the strongest songs on the album just by the feeling it creates. It slows the album down but still maintains its punk/rebel attitude. “Mr. Midnight” is more of a pop song than anything else and deals with seeing people close to us fall victim to addiction. It’s awesome because it's such a dark subject matter but juxtaposed with such a upbeat melody and rhythm. A lot of musicians like to do this, but it works especially well on this track.

These guys are taking the folk revival that has been getting so big these last few years (i.e. Mumford & Son, Avett Brothers, etc.) and moving it towards a whole new direction. Folk music is awesome on it own but the way TDM3 twists it and makes it into something fresh and contemporary just may be the new beginning of something hackneyed.

Track List:
1. Stranger
2. Worse or Better
3. Forty Days
4. A Moment’s Rest
5. Dead Body Moving
6. Hallelu
7. Hand Back Down
8. Spinning Like A Top
9. Mr. Midnight
10. Goodbye Old Friend

The Devil Makes Three, TDM3, I'm a Stranger Here, new album, Stranger
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

77 / 100
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