New Music From the Devil Makes Three, Beanie Sigel, and Sebastian Bach

The Devil Makes Three The Devil Makes Three (Milan) The Devil Makes Three don't have a drummer, but the band doesn't need one. Cooper McBean's percussive banjo accents and Lucia Turino's forceful slaps on her bass supply more than enough rhythm. Guitarist and lead singer Pete Bernhard completes the trio with a bluesy vocal style that's part Louis Prima, part Merle Haggard. The group has been carving a niche since arriving on the scene six years ago, with a sound that combines bluegrass, old-time music, folk, rockabilly, and Piedmont blues and ragtime, all played with a blazing punk-rock attitude. After the band put out three CDs independently, Milan is re-releasing its eponymous debut with four bonus tracks. The songs on The Devil Makes Three are the backbone of the band's live shows and grab your attention with sprightly energy, mordant humor, and timeless lyrics. Old favorites like the pirate-flavored "The Plank," the boozy ode to underage drinking "Shades," and the macabre cowboy ballad "The Bullet" sound better than ever. The extra cuts are welcome additions to the band's canon. "Nobody's Dirty Business" is a Mississippi John Hurt cover driven by Turino's propulsive bass. Bad-man ballad "Dynamite" is full of the band's trademark dark humor, and "Fun Has Just Begun" is a celebration of debauchery with a cheerful ragtime rhythm. The Devil Makes Three may be more sedate than the band's concerts, but it gives a deeper appreciation of the group's impressive songwriting talent. J. POET The Devil Makes Three play the Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-3599, $10. 9 p.m. Thurs., Jan. 3. Beanie Sigel The Solution (Roc-a-Fella/Island Def Jam) Beanie Sigel's new CD stands in contrast to the latest from his mentor, Jay-Z. American Gangster saw Jay reminiscing about the days before he settled into his plush corporate lifestyle, but Sigel is still living hard. Having been acquitted of attempted murder and having served a prison stint on a weapons charge since his last album, The B. Coming, Sigel sounds raw and inspired. Released within a month of American Gangster and a slew of other big-name fourth-quarter releases, The Solution seems likely to get lost in the shuffle, just as the new record by Sigel's protégé Freeway did. But that's a shame because Sigel's aggressive manner is channeled perfectly here. The beats, largely provided by Dre & Vidal, are consistently serviceable, and sometimes great. But the real star of the show is Sigel's gruff, angry flow and his wordplay, which mixes humor with street bravado. From "Dear Self": "You can bury me facedown with an open casket, this whole world can kiss mine/Tell me, what this life got to offer?" The album's masterpiece, "Rain (Bridge)," is a heartfelt jazz piano–based ballad featuring Scarface and Raheem DeVaughn. Sigel, vulnerable? Like almost everything else on this album, it works. BEN WESTHOFF Sebastian Bach Angel Down (Mrv) Say what you will about his hair-metal pedigree. Talk dismissively about his being firmly ensconced in the reality-TV wasteland (Supergroup, Celebrity Rap Superstar, I Married Sebastian Bach, etc.). The truth is, ex–Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach has a great fucking voice: a powerful, distinctive wail that's typically the best aspect of the albums and Broadway shows he's been involved with over the past 20 years. So it's gratifying to hear he hasn't lost a whit of his vocal power, range, or attitude on Angel Down, his first solo platter in eight years. Equally gratifying is the fact that while Bach and his band set the way-back metal machine to the time before grunge, the disc generally hews closer to the lean, mean crush of Skid Row's Slave to the Grind than to their comparatively sappier self-titled debut. Still, the singer can't quite let go of the power ballad, bringing sexy Bach for "I Remember You" redux "By Your Side" and the makeup-free-Kiss riffs of album closer "Falling Into You." No doubt many will flock to Angel Down for the three guest turns by longtime Bach pal Axl Rose; their dueling vocals are the best thing about an otherwise unremarkable cover of Aerosmith's "Back in the Saddle." Everything really comes together, though, on the charging if unfortunately titled "(Love Is) a Bitchslap," where the pair howl, "I got the weight of the world on my back, I'll leave it all behind." That track houses enough fury and resolve to make you think of youth gone wild, instead of faded hard-rock icons. MICHAEL ALAN GOLDBERG

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