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Beat the Devil

Who? This Brooklyn-based trio is the brainchild of Shilpa Ray, who operates as lead singer, songwriter and harmonium player. Bass player Mishka Shubaly has been with Ray since Beat the Devil’s inception in 2004 and drummer Mitchell King is the most recent addition. Renowned for their live performances, their sets feature everything from a dusty shovel to a devil-faced bass drum that Shubaly pounds through the crowd with maracas. The eloquent rage behind the lyrics would make Fiona proud and the absence of guitar goes completely unnoticed thanks to Ray’s way with the harmonium. Beat the Devil’s self-titled five-song EP was released at the end of 2006 and recording for their debut full-length begins next month.

What’s the Deal? Listening to Beat the Devil is like taking your first punch in the face. First you’re paralyzed with shock, then you’re charged with emotion, then you’re the cool kid on the playground with the mark of experience. Though Ray’s petite frame barely fills five feet of space, her bone-crushing vox could consume the island of Manhattan with one bellow. In “Plea Bargain” Ray explores the grand prix of insanity, crooning and shrieking in the same breath, while the bass line saunters behind her and the drums chant along. In the psychedelic music box that is “Green Eyed Monster Grey Eyed Fool,” her wraith-like vocals waltz with the drowsy organ, channeling the spirit of Jim Morrison and the dark serenity of the early Doors.

Fun Fact: Ray grew up in a strict Hindu home where Western music was forbidden. While reading No One Here Gets Out Alive by Doors’ manager Danny Sugerman in middle school, she discovered a reference to the Velvet Underground and checked out a copy of Peel Slowly and See at her local library. After sneaking it home to listen to it, inspiration’s door opened and her battle to beat the devil began. KRISTINA ENSMINGER

Now Hear This: Beat the Devil – “Shine in Exile” DOWNLOAD MP3

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