Aan, Dada Distractions (Party Damage)
[UNCHAINED INDIE] It's safe to say Aan set the bar pretty high for itself with long-awaited 2014 release Amor Ad Nauseum. The record proved well worth the wait, an indie-rock model citizen flexing all the great tenets of the genre produced with such painstaking craft that it felt like a single, amorphous musical saga. With Dada Distractions, we see a more urgent and textured Aan, perhaps the result of frontman Bud Wilson's new bandmates or the personal losses suffered during a rough 2015. Most likely, it's the mark of a confident act unwilling to wallow in its own sonic pasture, great as it may be.
The new record was produced by former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Riley Geare, and expectedly, there is an unchained quality about it. With the percussive strut of opener "Lookout!," Aan presents its new self right away. When the band goes hard, as on the "Hollywood Buyout," it's arguably Wilson's most aggressive work to date. When it's time to cool off, per the guitar-driven dream sequence of "Forever Underfoot," it's among the group's coolest, freest-flowing material yet. Such volatility persists throughout the record. It's an explosive nine-song collection brought up organic, courtesy of a decidedly analog studio approach.
Even the relatively contemplative "Into the Fire," with its mountainous hard-rock riffs and reflective valley-floor breakdowns, hits a little harder. Influences such as Jeff Beck's cerebral 1970s guitar phrasing and alt-rock contemporaries Alberta Cross can be heard, but Wilson and his band continue to lead more than follow. To dethrone its outstanding debut is a colossal and potentially impossible task, but Aan's latest LP is a triumph in terms of intensity, looseness and the underlying objective of continuous musical evolution.
SEE IT: Aan plays Rontoms, 600 E Burnside St., with Minden and Kelli Schaefer, on Sunday, Nov. 20. 8 pm. Free. 21+.