Devastations Coal

From both the name of the band and the title of the album, one can reasonably expect the proceedings here to be drenched in a shade of gloom, and, indeed, this Melbourne, Australia-based threesome don’t disappoint. Their press statement mentions they’re similar to artists like the National (somewhat true), Tindersticks (definitely) and Cat Power (um, not so much), but they leave off the most obvious one: Nick Cave. Doom and gloom from Australia? That’s Cave territory and Devastations trod very similar sonic land. From deep baritone of lead singer Conrad Standish and the piano-driven elegies of "Dance With Me” and "I Don’t Want to Lose You Tonight,” mouths are agape at the sheer Cave-esque resemblance. But, is this a bad thing? Maybe not, as the instrumentation and atmosphere that comes through Coal is pretty damn good on its own. The songs are weighted with the right amount of drama as they drip with yearning and regret but the accompanying music never gets too heavy-handed. One may roll your eyes at a title like "The Night I Couldn’t Stop Crying,” but the menacing bass and deep vocal drawl make up for it. Despite the scary Nick Cave similarity, Coal crackles with energy all its own. (Brassland)