Beat the Devil
Hometown: Brooklyn NY
Another mesmerizing set – In a scene filled with indie rock pretenders, Beat the Devil stand alone with a unique genre defying sonic style that just might push them to the head of the pack in ’07. —Fiddlewhileyouburn.com
LES trio Beat the Devil combine the foreboding, eerie sounds of the harmonium with the lilting and often menacing vocals of snarling lead singer Shilpa Ray— Flavorpill.com
Tonight, at Knitting Factory, is Beat the Devil, a band that had the good sense to name themselves after a movie that John Huston and Truman Capote wrote, drunk, as they were shooting it. They do some purposefully sludgy dirge-pop stuff which mostly exists to give adequate support to fearsome lead singer Shilpa Ray, a throaty, snarling belter like a homeless Gypsy Rose Lee or something. (Plus, if you deconstruct her scarily modulated primal scream, she appears to be saying something like "Where there are dancing bears/Drinking grape-flavored Kool-Aid/Touching large-breasted women/Touching large-breasted men/Oh I'm in love with myself." Also she plays the harmonium.) Apparently they're pretty impressive live, too, a grippingly gloomy carnival barker snarl— L Magazine.
Best Lead Singer Who Doubles As An Air Raid Siren – Shilpa Ray
You wanna get there right as a Beat-the-Devil set begins, because half the fun in seeing this volatile NYC jazz-folk-blues-punk outfit lies in watching the unfamiliar react the first time lead singer Shilpa Ray opens her mouth. Typical reaction: shock and awe. She looks tiny and jovial (especially surrounded by her menacing, dudely bandmates), but goddamn can she ever shriek, alternating jazzy, evocative moans (she's inspired Billie Holiday comparisons, and for once they don't sound totally ridiculous) with a nuclear-grade, paint-evaporating, continent-shifting howl loaded with more volume, rage, and pathos than the entire Ozzfest lineup combined. After she fiercely blasts through her song about Coney Island, you'll never look at chili dogs or Ferris wheels the same way again. That Ray is nonchalantly playing a harmonium (a hand-pumped organ of the bagpipean persuasion) the whole time only adds to the terrifying visual appeal. It's not always clear exactly what her surrealist lyrics mean ("Where there are dancing bears/Drinking grape-flavored Kool-Aid/Touching large-breasted women/Touching large-breasted men/Oh I'm in love with myself"), but there's no doubt she means it, and means to let you—and everyone in the next county over too—know about it. (Village Voice)
NYC's Beat the Devil is a bit harder to classify, but no less intriguing. They seem capable of about anything, and all of it is good: definitely worth the trip. – The Athens News
Among the cacophony of cookie-cutter rock bands, Beat the Devil emerges as a uniquely soulful addition to the Lower East Side of the 21st century. – AM New York
Beat The Devil is a live thing. The drummer taps away in back, lanky and weird with a slight twitch. Drunken, brooding basslines played by Mishka Shubaly loom like an elephant as it staggers down the street to the bar. All is centered around the harmonium, a bellowed instrument that sounds of the ocean, sitting tabletop, center stage, like the magician's black hat. Front woman Shilpa Ray wields the wooden box with a spider-like grace, pumping out chords of sorrow that fill the room with a dark, eerie beauty. But perhaps the real magic is in her voice. Ray's ability to project uninhibited emotion using her deep alto moan gives the band a haunting grip. From a melancholic howl to a powerful snarl, she brings to life the St. Augustine's of old and the 40 oz. dry heaves of right now. The show gains momentum, and suddenly the beat explodes across the toms, the bass crunches with distortion, and Ray bursts out a soulful growl. Possessed by some invisible presence in the room, she winds in and out of spasms and convulsions. Beat the Devil is a shovel, casting away all the dirt and repression to reveal those lovely, awful things festering away in your soul. —Urban Folk
Beat the Devil mix Billie Holiday-era jazz and blues and old black spirituals with folk and garage rock to come off sounding something like CocoRosie on crystal meth wrestling with Belle and Sebastian and the White Stripes…there are some truly amazing moments. -The Village Voice
Singer Shilpa Ray has a crazily charismatic howl, a cocktail of pain and elegance garnished with an anything could happen next rasp. And she ain't playing guitar— that's a harmonium, and she seems to know what it's good for. Fans of dark addled romantic music should pay heed. – Time Out NY
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