And And And | The Failure | PDX-009 (Jan 13th, 2015)

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On Tuesday January 13th of 2015, Portland, Oregon’s And And And will release its highly anticipated debut full-length album on Party Damage Records. Though the record is entitled The Failure, the working-class quintet could not feel more triumphant in finally bringing it to the world. This has been a long time coming.

In 2011, on the strength of two self-recorded EPs, And And And was Portland’s most talked-about group. Winners of Willamette Week’s 2011 Best New Band poll (past finalists have included Menomena, Starfucker, and Typhoon), it seemed inevitable to the band’s sizable local following that And And And would quickly release a full-length debut and find a national audience. But behind the bands explosive live shows and promising recorded material, frontman Nathan Baumgartner was fighting unemployment, a lengthy custody battle, and serious depression. Instead of plotting world domination in Portland, Baumgartner was slowly penning songs from his childhood bedroom in the coastal mill town of Reedsport, Oregon, three hours south of Portland. 

In Reedsport, Baumgartner worked part-time as a substitute teacher and did odd jobs for his parents, driving back to Portland for shows or band practices. It wasn’t exactly a rockstar lifestyle, but the batch of songs that came out of the ordeal—the songs that comprise The Failure—were the band’s most inspired yet, from the anxious majesty of opener “Bow Down” to closer “Losing Team,” one of the prettiest songs about resignation ever penned. Recorded over ten days in San Diego with Rafter Roberts between skateboarding and drinking sessions, the record is fiery and urgent. It evokes classic grunge-era sounds from the Northwest (think Mudhoney and early Nirvana), but bleeds melody and passion all its own.

It’s fitting that Baumgartner should pen And And And’s finest material to date in Reedsport, the town where the band first started to materialize. Back in high school, Baumgartner played with And And And bassist Jonathan Sallas and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Wiggans in Pep band. When the boys went off to college in Eugene, they met Bim Ditson and multi-instrumentalist Berg Radin. After moving to Portland, And And And became known for truly epic live shows where there was no clear delineation between stage and offstage or audience member and musician. They were also recognizable for their red white and blue van, to which the band bolted a retractable, regulation-height basketball hoop. And And And continues to host an annual three-on-three basketball—err, Rigsketball—tournament involving dozens of Portland musicians.

The fact is, their early hype never really phased And And And. This band has always put friendship, artistic vision, and raw energy before accolades. And on all of those fronts, The Failure is already a huge success.