Reviews:: Devastations Coal

Sometimes a voice is all you need to hear before you jump on board with a band. After hearing the first lyric of the opening track – Sex and Mayhem - on the new Devastations (Coal) album, I was sold. “The wine may have loosened my tongue, but your gonna thank me later on.

It’s such a simple lyric, but it opens up so many doors, so many bad decisions and regrets. The baritone, emotion drenched vocals of Conrad Standish can't not remind you of Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen or label mate Matt from the National. The song itself, like the title dictates, builds slowly, adding strings, voices, percussion, and backing vocals; exploring and shedding any reservations.

From sex and mayhem, almost stereotypically, we end up in a depressed state of loneliness and regret. The band sets the mood perfectly, using Conrad’s voice as a center piece, but relying on the minor tones of piano, strings, guitar (courtesy of Tom Carlyon) and subtle drums (Hugo Cran) to heighten his pain.

For some reason, I picture these songs as stories being told to a half attentive bartender, over a full ashtray and a stiff drink watered down by melted ice. Maybe he’s listening, maybe not. Getting the feelings out is all that matters. From the anger of the frantic Take you home to the pitiful regret of The Night I Couldn’t Stop Crying, this record is an emotional roller coaster.

The songs build nicely without trying to fill every void with unnecessary notes. Like a broken heart, the strongest feelings of the record are countered with emptiness – as he sings “I don’t want to lose you, not tonight”, backed by only simple strings you sense his desperation. It’s bleak, it’s depressing, but it’s beautiful; when it comes to pop music, isn’t that what we all want?

Devastations play the Media Club in Vancouver on: 10.11.06
MP3:: Sex and Mayhem
MP3:: Coal

Daily links::
Matt (from the National) talks to Chart about the new record - via Chromewaves
A Brokedown Melody soundtrack is being released on Brushfire records - via I Am Fuel You are Friends

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