Devastations
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Devastations

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


I heard this for the first time in Australia. Within five minutes I had tears streaming down my face. It gives me feelings I can tap into outside of myself when I can't quite tap into what is going on inside. That for me is most precious. - MOJO


Devastations are the sound of a meteor cooling in the cut grass; the clash of a terrible beauty with the customary; Tom Carlyon, Hugo Cran and Conrad Standish. The Devastations are all about silence. Holes big enough and empty enough to fill the grand canyon. Silence and how you fill it. And how much you fill it, and what you fill it with, and when? And the answer to that last part of the puzzle is song. And song is where Devastations come in. They neither sound like the past or this fad. This is timeless, because it is of the heart, and the soul is always timeless. - Australian newspaper essay


winner for debut album of the year contest - Rolling Stone (German edition)


Devastations front man Conrad Standish is a dead ringer for Nick Cave. Actually, the whole band has that tall, dark and brooding mid-1980s Melbourne look going on and the similarities don’t end there. Their slow-burning songs bear enough resemblance to Cave to have music journalists and PR hacks throwing around big nice words. Brazen Australian spinners have even compared them to the Go-Betweens, warning local journos not to remake the mistakes they made by ignoring the legendary band twenty years ago.

It’s an easy case to make. The quartet is barely known in Australia, but regularly sell out shows in Europe. Rolling Stone (Germany) awarded their self-titled debut Album of the Year in 2004, while Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) told Mojo it was the best thing she’d heard all year.

Delivered in Standish’s throaty voice, with Cave-esque imagery like ships, whores, drownings, and redemption, the songs on second album Coal bring to mind the Bad Seeds’ Murder Ballads. The subsequent move to Berlin and rapturous response to gigs organised by Blixa Bargeld around Europe sealed the deal.

To summarise: the Devastations are from Melbourne; they moved to Berlin; singer Standish has a low voice; and they write slow, moody and sad songs, with piano. Little wonder they get compared to Cave’s Bad Seeds, but although they will appeal to a similar audience, the Devastations are quite a different beast.

At the heart of their output are understated love songs. The remarkably consistent production gives priority to the beauty of the songs and hints at the underlying power/fury of their distorted guitar work. The raggedly linear squeal of New Yorker Padma Newsome’s string arrangements hints at their chaotic live shows, but for the most part the musical backing is far more sedate. Tinkling Astor Piazzolla-influenced instrumentals bring to mind Tex-Mex outfit Calexico, while cooing backing vocals conjure up the kind of sleazy intimacy trademarked by Leonard Cohen.

Midway through the album, track five to be exact, Standish drops his laconic patter and winds up sounding like Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker. Held back, like the soft patter of a brush drumstick over a cymbal on some old soft rock record. But where Cocker’s breathy restraint is tempered by irony and a sharp wit, these songs suddenly appear in soft rock territory, proper. And although Standish has said the Devastations offers a chance to play more restrained music—in contrast to the assault of his previous band Luxedo and, he says, the entire Oz Rock music industry—in this case it’s a little counter-productive, especially when you consider that live they tend to be far more dynamic.

Despite these diversions, or perhaps because of them, Coal packs a powerful punch. They have hardly revolutionised the Cave, Cocker, Cohen triumvirate, but they have created something of equal merit and, critically, showcased song writing and musicianship that will just keep getting better.
- StylusMagazine.com


More smooth, creepy lounge crooning to get you through midweek. Track 3 of the Brassland/MFR online EP comes from the Devastations, whose sound blends together an amazing mix of sweet, dark melodies, deep and resonant vocals, and a theatrical quality that makes this track in particular seem like it belongs next to the Leonard Cohen song on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. Or maybe in a 90's moving by Tarantino. Fans of Gainsbourg, Cohen, Arcade Fire, Morphine, and the like will want to give this band a prime slot in their playlists.

- music.for-robots.com


Discography

Airplay on Triple JJJ in Australia which is similar to AAA format. Already picked up for play on American mp3 blogs like Music.for-Robots & SixEyes

FULL LENGTHS
- Coal (2005, In-Fidelity, Australia) (2006, Beggars Banquet, Europe & Brassland, USA)
- The Devastations debut LP (2003, Spooky, Australia & Munster, Europe) (2007, Brassland, USA)

SINGLES & EPS
- Previous Crimes 7"
- Autoluminescent 7" (w/ Rowland S Howard of Birthday Party)
- The Low Road 7"
- Loene 7"

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

“I heard this for the first time in Australia. Within five minutes I had tears streaming down my face. It gives me feelings I can tap into outside of myself when I can’t quite tap into what is going on inside. That for me is most precious.” -- Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), MOJO Magazine’s The Best Thing I’ve Heard All Year

HOW IT STARTED
Devastations, from Melbourne, Australia, are the first band signed to Brassland on the strength of an unsolicited demo. It won’t take long listening to their sophomore album COAL to figure out what has led an unusually wide array of fellow musicians, critics, and labels to embrace the group.

Formed in late 2002, Devastations consciously chose to ignore the strut and bluster that dominated the musical landscape, instead mining a deep well of understated emotion, veiled menace, and a distinct flair for creating breezy, romantic moods. They’ve jokingly called it “TROPICAL GOTH.” Fans are drawn to the music’s unique intimacy and its ability to forge a human connection.

Their self-titled debut brought them invitations to open for artists like Black Heart Procession, the Dirty Three, Cat Power, and the Tindersticks -- the latter of whom they supported extensively in both Australia and Europe.

LIFE IN BERLIN
After an excellent initial reception at home, Devastations choose to follow in the footsteps of spiritual ancestors like the Go-Betweens and the Dirty Three, and make their way in the larger world. They moved to Berlin in 2003. At the end of that year their first record was named debut album of the year by the German edition of ROLLING STONE.

While overseas, Devastations toured Europe extensively; recorded the soundtrack for German film “Sehn Sucht” with Einsturzende Neubauten’s Alexander Hacke; collaborated with electropunk icons Cobra Killer on their album “76/77”; and co-wrote/recorded with Liars during sessions for the acclaimed “Drum’s Not Dead.” (Devs’ vocalist/bassist Conrad Standish is childhood friends with Liars’ leader, Angus Andrew.)

A PIRATE SHIP IN FRANCE
Devastations came to the attention of Brassland in late 2004 when they crossed paths with fellow Aussie, Padma Newsome, violinist and arranger for labelmates CLOGS and THE NATIONAL. Clogs & Devs shared a stage during a Belgian festival, then met again a few days later on a pirate ship in Paris. Brassland had already fallen for Devastations music, but when the band met Padma wine was drunk, plots were hatched, and the group decided to join the extended Brassland family.

OTHER HONORS
Devs’ second album, COAL was released in Australia in late 2005. It quickly piled up popular and critical acclaim. Shortlisted for the innaugural Australian Music Prize, an award modeled after the UK’s Mercury, it put them in the company of artists like Wolfmother, Ben Lee, Go-Betweens, and The Drones.

Want another opinion on Devastations?

When Birthday Party legend Rowland S. Howard heard them he wrote this: “Devastations are: the sound of a meteor cooling in the cut grass; the clash of a terrible beauty with the customary; Tom Carlyon, Hugo Cran and Conrad Standish. The Devastations are all about silence. Holes; big enough and empty enough to fill the grand canyon. Silence and how you fill it. And how much you fill it, and what you fill it with, and when? And the answer to that last part of the puzzle is song. And song is where Devastations come in. They neither sound like the past or this fad. This is timeless, because it is of the heart, and the soul is always timeless.”

We agree whole-heartedly.

HYPE POINTS & RECENT HAPPENINGS
• Early love from online publications & mp3 blogs like StylusMagazine.com, Music.for-Robots, and SixEyes

• COAL features performances by Padma Newsome (Clogs, The National) and Bic Runga, a New Zealand pop superstar who they recently backed-up for a European tour.

• Recently, members of Devastations have also collaborated with artists such as Liars, Karen O, Rowland S. Howard (Birthday Party), and Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten).

• COAL was nominated for the innaugural Australian Music Prize (AMP) alongside Wolfmother, The Drones, Go-Betweens, and Ben Lee.

• Devastations will soon be announcing a November US tour with friends and fellow AMP nominees The Drones

• In Europe, COAL will be released on the legendary Beggars Banquet label, which has signed the band to a worldwide deal.

• Devastations are Conrad Standish (vocals/bass), Hugo Cran (drums) and Tom Carlyon (guitars/vocals)

• Official websites are: www.thedevastations.com www.brassland.org/devastations.html

• There are plans afoot to give Devastations s/t debut an American release on Brassland in 2007.