Listen Through The Static

The Nadas

Authentic Records, 2005

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


One of the best parts of reviewing indie artists is the element of surprise. Many of them are independent precisely because they don't play by the industry's rules, and that can make for some startling, intriguing moments on that first listen all the way through.

Which isn't necessarily what I thought I was getting when I received Listen Through The Static. For one thing, the Nadas are pretty mainstream in musical terms -- this is heartland rock with more than a little Mellencamp and Petty in its jangly-sincere soul -- and for another, they're not exactly new to the game. This is their seventh release through their own label (Authentic Records) over the past 12 years; through a combination of talent and persistence, they've sold 75,000 units. The band is led by vocalists/guitarists/songwriters Mike Butterworth and Jason Walsmith, along with Jon Locker on bass and Justin Klein behind the drum kit.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

So, I had expectations, and they were more or less fulfilled for the first ten songs on this CD. And then along came "Love Divided," a simply exquisite ballad on which Walsmith duets with his wife/guest vocalist Stephanie Walsmith against a dreamy, very David Gray acoustic-guitar-and-muted-electronic-percussion backdrop. Through much of the album a gruffer vocal counterpart to Butterworth, on "Love Divided," Walsmith turns in a gentle, Knopfleresque blues vocal that is both soulful and tremendously appealing.

How good was it? Good enough to get me to listen to the whole album again, and then again, which gave me the opportunity to pick up on some other nice touches that add character to what is essentially a hearty helping of good old-fashioned singer-songwriter rock and roll.

The leadoff track is clearly meant to lead the way for the album, and "Listen Through The Static" indeed carries a punch, a minor sunburst of jangle-rock that channels every indie band's righteous indignation over the state of today's bought-and-paid-for, artistically bankrupt radio scene.

The twin-bandleader dynamics of Butterworth and Walsmith remind frequently of Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas of the BoDeans in the way their individual styles contrast and mesh into an appealing whole. Butterworth lets loose vocally on a couple of very pretty power ballads, "The Deal" and "Hallelujah"; the somewhat more adventurous Walsmith counters with a tasty country-folk number ("Templeton Rye") and the blissfully upbeat "Life Becomes Me." The winner in this match-up? You, the listener.

While there's a lot of very solid work on tracks one through ten, I can't say I honestly found anything revelatory. It's just solid, unpretentious and consistently appealing roots-rock. "Love Divided" was, and is, the one track that put Listen Through The Static over the top for me. Check it out and see if you agree…

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2005 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Authentic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.