IT'S BEEN NINE MONTHS since the random lot of musicians—many of them castoffs from Eugene's stagnant scene—converged in an unassuming practice spot to attempt to form a band. So began And And And, six musicians crammed into a single room in the warehouse district of the forgettable cultural void that is Beaverton. It's hardly an auspicious start, but sequestered together and removed from outside distractions, these half-dozen musicians have created something truly wonderful.
And And And might be the most lively, carefree rock act this city has seen in ages. Theirs is a completely effortless, unexpected, inspiring sound, one that seldom hints at the inexperience of their rapid incubation. Since last September, the band—Nathan Baumgartner, Tyler Keene, Berg Radin, Bim Ditson, Ryan Wiggans, and Jonathan Sallas—already has a pair of full-lengths to their repetitive name (which was lifted from the 1991 film The Commitments), and they don't plan on stopping there.
Much has been made of Baumgartner's quote that their goal is to constantly churn out releases "in the vein of Lil Wayne mixtapes," and there is definitely some truth to that. And And And's debut We'll Be Better off with the Plants has the short attention span associated with a Weezy mixtape—the similarities abruptly end there—while their forthcoming follow-up, A Fresh Summer with And And And, is a wholly fleshed-out recording that comes together naturally as a complete album. A recording with no plans to be captured on wax, there is nonetheless a noticeable split at the halfway point, as if it were made to feel like two sides of a single LP.
Baumgartner and Keene (often credited as "Run4yoLyfe," a hiphop alter ego coined when they were teens that persists to this day) split songwriting and vocal duties, both maintaining a deliberately haphazard method of stumbling through lyrics and barking out choruses like unsupervised hyperactive teens singing along with their favorite songs—think Up Records-era Modest Mouse, with two Isaac Brocks behind the mic. The inspiring A Fresh Summer was conceived with a release date (June 21, the first official day of summer) before a track list, and the band struggled to balance the sunny concept of a themed recording with the stark reality of a looming deadline. As Baumgartner explains, "We were like, 'June 21, we're just gonna do that,' but we only had half the songs for it." The rush to complete might have hampered their peers, but it played into And And And's collective strengths.
The caveat is that the band is only barely ready. There's no denying their raw song assembly and vocals are early days charming, and something will have to change if this still-very-new band is going to find a larger audience. But given their rapid growth over the span of two records with a few scant months between them, it hardly seems a concern.
All the band has left to accomplish is everything. Still near-strangers in the Portland music scene, And And And shows have been relatively sparse, and plans for the slow slog of global—or at least coastal—domination are still in the works. Until then, they'll continue their prolific pace. "We get too excited about the songs and don't want to just sit on them," explains Keene. "There's really no reason to sit on them unless you are established and people are anticipating it. At this point who is anticipating the next And And And album?"
The answer to that question might change very soon.