ALbum review: and and and, "the failure" -The Portland Mercury

Photo credit: Ingrid Renan - Click to read piece

Photo credit: Ingrid Renan - Click to read piece

Video Premier: And And And "Losing Team" -VICE

VICE Exclusive: Watch Portland’s And And And Fight Ghosts and Puke in a New Video

Sometimes I feel like I only know people from Oregon. That’s alright, since people from Oregon seem to be far more agreeable those from any place I’ve ever been to on the East Coast. Portland sounds like a strange oasis of hip stasis, where you can be a career waiter and live comfortably with plenty of free time. Wherever there is free time, there are good bands—and And And And are the sultans of the scene.

We are premiering the group’s new music video for their song “Losing Team,” off their recent LP. It’s part two of their epic GoPro- and iPhone-shot saga, following “A Real Case of the Blues.” This time, the gang is real sick and have visions of grotesque surgeries, Ghostbusters, interdimensional portals, and IFOs (identified flying objects).

Listen to And And And on Bandcamp.

Song Premier: And And And "Drink for Free" -VICE

And And And’s ‘Drink for Free’ Should Be Number One on Every Bar Jukebox

And And And has been one of Portland’s biggest bands since 2009, but they’ve waited until last week to drop their official full-length debut. Their tunes are equal parts Northwest indie rock and frontier desert twang, and most of the songs make me want to buy an old van on Craigslist and traverse the western half of I-40 for a while.

Speaking of vans, the band tours in a graffitied-up utility van with a basketball hoop mounted on the back. Every year, they park it in front of strip clubs and in cul-de-sacs around Portland and host a giant basketball tournament for Portland bands called Rigsketball. Fucking Portland.

”Drink for Free” is an exclusive, unreleased track recorded during the sessions for their new album, The Failure. It’s the type of song that’ll make you want to see the band live, as it encompasses a benign and fun energy that translates beautifully into a raucous show. If you dig the song, check out the rest of the album below.
Quick! Name your 350 favorite Portland bands.

Yeah, it’s kind of a tough one. But that number represents the shared wisdom of the 161 local music experts—journalists, bookers, promoters, ex-BNB winners, venue owners, producers and the like—who responded to our eighth annual Best New Band poll. They came up with just over 350 artists they thought deserved recognition as one of Portland’s best (as always, we remind you that the words “best,” “new” and even “band” are all subject to the interpretation of those who responded to our poll—you can see their ballots and get a breakdown of our point system here).

It’s a staggering number—but what’s more impressive is how many of those bands actually are really good. Each year, Portland’s music scene grows—with new bands from within the city limits and imported groups from around the country—and yet, somehow, the music community remains jam-packed not just with awesome artists but awesome people. Shouldn’t things be getting a little cutthroat out there? Shouldn’t bands be firebombing each other’s vans for headlining slots at Mississippi Studios and Doug Fir? For whatever reason, civility remains in place and Portland remains one of the best places in the country to see live music seven nights a week.

While we stand firmly behind these 10 fantastic acts, we also know they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Our hope is that you’ll venture out and find your own local favorites, and involve yourself in a music scene that is truly historic. This year, like every year, I remain humbled by Portland’s awesomeness. It really is way too much awesomeness for one man. So, hopefully—if the awesomeness doesn’t kill me where I stand—I will see you at a show real soon. —Casey Jarman, music editor

1. And And And

Points: 118

Formed: 2009

Members: Tyler Keene, Nathan Baumgartner, Jonathan Sallas, Ryan Wiggans, Berg Radin, Bim Ditson

Sounds like: A refined, orchestrated version of Wowee Zowee-era Pavement made by kids who grew up listening to hip-hop instead of the Fall.

And And And is talking shit. We’re in the parking lot of the Care Medical & Rehabilitation Equipment building in Northeast Portland, and singer-guitarist Tyler Keene is feeling confident. “I think we could take any band in Portland in a game of three-on-three,” he says, grabbing a beat-up red, white and blue basketball from inside drummer Bim Ditson’s 1993 Ford Aerostar van. Multi-instrumentalist Ryan Wiggans joins Ditson on the back bumper, carefully lifting the collapsible basketball hoop attached to the top of the van—a 10-foot-high monstrosity one has to see to believe—into an upright position. You read that right: And And And, the wildest thing to hit Portland since Rasheed Wallace donned a Blazers jersey, is so committed to the sport of “rigsketball” that it will challenge anyone, anywhere—so long as it can find adequate street light.

After a particularly gloomy spring, tonight is feeling almost balmy—it’s T-shirt weather when the shots start going up and the words get fierce. Bassist Jonathan Sallas ties his long brown locks in a ponytail and rolls up his pant leg to reveal one high sock (like an indie-rock Kerry Kittles); Ditson sheds his leather jacket and takes two long strides, leaps off the van’s back door, and attempts a “bumper jam” on the janky rim. Co-frontman Nathan Baumgartner fires a wild jump shot that barely grazes the side of the wooden backboard, and the band yells in unison, “Chip the wood!” Multi-instrumentalist Berg Radin rolls on the ground in laughter. The cops drive by twice, slowing down on the corner of Northeast Hancock Street and 7th Avenue, but never stopping. This is how And And And rolls on a Saturday night.

The band has every reason to be cocky. In less than two years, And And And—named after a line in the 1991 film The Commitments—has gone from playing empty shows at outer-Portland dives like the Red Room to headlining local showcases at the hip Mississippi Studios. Those early gigs are still things of legend: The band was kicked out of its first show by the sound man; another one was almost shut down after Radin decided to climb the balcony at Valentine’s. To combat crappy sound systems and minimal crowds—and perhaps to cover the fact that the band was still finding its sound—And And And made sure every set was utter chaos. It was the only way to get noticed.

”When we were playing at clubs like Ella Street we were never able to hear ourselves sing, so we sang way too loud,” Keene says, his voice still hoarse from shouting on the court. “We had to scream at the top of our lungs just to make it past the clutter of noise.”

Baumgartner chimes in. “I think we still emulate those early shows. It created the whole thing we go for—it’s like we’re still playing at small clubs being noisy and dumb.”

The story behind the band’s origin is almost as ridiculous. Keene, who grew up in Michigan and lived in New York for five years, moved to Beaverton to design packaging labels for Intel in 2009. Baumgartner was his next-door neighbor, but they met through their significant others—Keene’s wife was walking her dog and ran into Baumgartner’s girlfriend, and a casual conversation revealed that both men were bashful songwriters.

”From the beginning we really liked the idea of having co-lead singers,” Baumgartner says. “But we didn’t just want it to be a songwriter-based thing—we wanted a full band.”

When Baumgartner attended the University of Oregon he played in the Eugene dance-rock group Superdream with Radin, Sallas and Wiggans, so he called up his pals to come practice at Bongo Fury, a 24-hour rehearsal space in Beaverton. Initial sessions were just as loud as the early gigs—they were surrounded by metal bands, and quickly realized that their quieter songs should be saved for the recording studio.

But a group can’t survive on volume alone. So And And And turned to another gimmick, earning its street cred by becoming one of Portland’s most prolific bands. In an era of overnight Internet fame, And And And gets by on old-school hustle: Since March 2010, the six-piece outfit has released two full-length albums (We’ll Be Better Off With the Plants and sophomore effort A Fresh Summer With And And And), four EPs, and Life Ruiner, a split cassette tape with friends the Woolen Men. For most bands, 50 songs is a legacy—for And And And, it’s just another year.

”I think we release music like all the rappers Tyler likes do,” Radin says. “It’s like, we could just hold onto this material, or we can just go out and hustle, drop demos for free, and release songs as we finish them. We would love to release Lil Wayne mixtapes forever.”

Amazingly, quantity has not trumped quality with And And And. Most of the band’s material strikes a perfect balance between dueling aesthetics: feverish, frantic lo-fi punk and cleverly arranged and orchestrated pop aided by trumpet and harmonica (and, oddly, the clarinet—perhaps the least-punk instrument in the world). Keene and Baumgartner trade off lead vocals, but they have similar vocal approaches that have more in common with Isaac Brock’s early Modest Mouse yelps than the bottled intensity of current lauded indie-rock singers like Wolf Parade’s Spencer Krug. While And And And’s latest material has grown professional and assured, the vocals are still raw and half-drunk, mixed with so much reverb that it’s often hard to tell just what the hell these guys are singing about.

It’s fitting, then, that the cover of Life Ruiner (which, like most of the band’s discography, was released on cassette) is a mosaic of Old German beer cans: And And And is one of the best drinking bands to hit Portland in years—a caustic and unpredictable live act from post to wire. Onstage the band switches instruments while Keene and Baumgartner howl above the wreckage. During a recent outdoor set at WW’s Eat Mobile food-cart festival, the band took the stage as a train chugged by 20 feet in the background; instead of waiting for it to pass, they yelled, “Train whistle!” and launched into a particularly noisy version of live staple “The 2nd Proposition,” one of the standout songs from A Fresh Summer.

That tune is one of six songs And And And recently re-recorded with Eric Earley and Michael Van Pelt of Blitzen Trapper. The goal is to put out one “real” album and look for a label, while simultaneously readying more new songs for a future mixtape. “The sessions have been songs we’ve already written and done, but we want to release them as a proper album that’s professionally recorded and actually marketable and might appeal to people who don’t want to listen to a tape,” Baumgartner says.

Back by the hoop, things are starting to get serious: Keene and Sallas, both over 6 feet tall, are dominating inside, scoring at will on a series of post-ups and offensive rebounds. Ditson can’t stop talking about the summer rigsketball tournament he’s organizing, where 32 local bands will play three-on-three ball in an NCAA-style bracket. In each matchup, the band with fewer MySpace hits will pick where to park the van and its attached hoop. It’s a pretty egalitarian move on And And And’s part, but it shows that beneath all the band’s loud-mouthed ego, it will always identify with the underdogs. “The original idea behind the whole thing was to have ‘big’ bands play with ‘little’ bands,” Ditson says between shots. “Popularity doesn’t matter to us—you have to bring it on the court, wherever that is.” MICHAEL MANNHEIMER.