THE DEVASTATIONS - COAL
Reviewer: Andrew Williamson
If you calculated the number of successful artists per square mile, Manchester, New York, Nashville and London would all fare well. Australia, on the other hand, would be pretty far down the list. Ok, they produced AC/DC, and Nick Cave of course, but is there anyone else of note?
It's little wonder then that The Devastations decided to forsake Melbourne and head for Berlin, home of 'Achtung Baby' and small sausages. They did considerably better in Europe, picking up the best debut of 2004 award from Rolling Stone (Germany) and moved Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to describe them in Mojo as 'the best thing I've heard all year'.
Their lanky, dark brooding figures bear more than a passing resemblance to their country-man Nick Cave. Coal's slow-burning, piano-led veiled menace borrows a trick or two from his book as well. But they are much more than a Nick Cave tribute band. Strings and piano alternate with stinging electric guitars and the songwriting is heartfelt throughout.
The album contains ten love songs, some humorous and some heart-breaking. New Zealand's answer to Norah Jones, Bic Runga lends her beautiful voice to 'A Man of Fortune' and a member of The National plays on the fantastic 'I Don't Want to Lose You Tonight' ('I'll retract all my statements when you retract your claws').
Despite a weak opening track, 'Coal' contains powerful, genuine songs that might go someway to making Australia a force to be reckoned with.
DOWNLOAD: 'A Man Of Fortune', 'Terrified'
FOR FANS OF: Nick Cave, The National, Tom Waits