Sensory Overload: Nick D’ and the Believers understand the music business and, more importantly, music

By Columbus Alive
From the August 22, 2013 edition

Nick D’ and the Believers emerged on the internet quietly but auspiciously last year in especially modern fashion, a virtually unknown band with a handful of sleek music videos. So the Columbus trioobviously understand how the music business works these days. More importantly, these guys how music works.

Nick D’Andrea writes songs with a keen grasp of their inner wiring, the knowledgethatbarely perceptible details can elevate a few chords and a melody from background music toinstantly ingratiating pop song. He also gets that less can be more where arrangements are concerned hence only two bandmates on stage with him Saturday at Brothers Drake: Floorwalkers guitarist Kerry Henderson and Bella Ruse drummer Joseph Barker.

It’s the same approach that made Spoon living legends of pop precision, and there’s certainly a resemblance here. D’Andrea’s songs are taut and punchy accented by little flickers of noise or falsetto octaves. They usually glide along at an easygoing gait before building to a big sing-along chorus or, occasionally, a satisfying blast of dissonance. And they lull you into not noticing how much isn’t happening, so that when the big payoff hits, it really hits. It’s like a paint splatter across a pristine white gallery space, but much tidier.

But whereas Spoon grounds its tunes on the gruff side of rock history — Wire, Pixies, Springsteen and the like — the Believers cribfromrock’s chipper side, the Beatles-over-Stones side.They crib well, too; the hook from would-be radio hit “Find a Little Love,” “Just find a little love before you go!” could have appeared on any number of FM classics from the past five decades. It’s timeless.

D’Andrea’s voice is one of the band’s weaker elements — Floorwalkers singer Jon Elliott powerfully outshined him in a guest spot Saturday — but it’s serviceable.

More impressive is his stage presence. Dude carries his mini keyboard around stage with the mobility of a guitarist, freewheeling like Bob Dylan, whose “Subterranean Homesick Blues” got a reading Saturday. Awhen “Mercy, Mercy” took a turn for Velvet Underground cacophony, D’Andrealet it all hang out like a true frontman. He understands how that works, too.