[LO-FI BREAKTHROUGH] On my last count, local frenetic-pop sextet And And And released 45 songs in the past year. I'm probably a little off—does a mixtape count as one track?—but the sheer amount of music the band has recorded in 12 months is staggering. Touching on everything from rowdy, drunken rock jams to punk rave-ups to sparse and acoustic folk singalongs, And And And has proven that it's just as adept at writing a tearjerker as starting a riot. And now, after countless MP3s and lo-fi experiments and a few clunkers, the band finally has a signature song.
"All We Can Do Is Raise the Dead" isn't just the clear highlight of AAA's new cassette, Life Ruiner—it's the effortless, knockout, set-closing pop song co-frontman Tyler Keene always had in him. Though Life Ruiner (a split tape with fellow lo-fi pop merchants the Woolen Men) runs together as one single 30-minute piece, "All We Can Do Is Raise the Dead" immediately stands out from anything the band has done before, both sonically and from a composition standpoint: Instead of burying his voice in swirling layers of sound, Keene puts it at the front of a song with a breezy swing that's somewhere between the Kiwi pop of the Go-Betweens and the '80s nostalgia of Wild Nothing.
Life Ruiner, like most of the band's material, splits the songwriting almost evenly between tracks penned by Keene and Nathan Baumgartner, and both singers come out firing. Baumgartner's takes (especially the raucous "I Want More Alcohol") tend to stomp, with his fiery-preacher voice dominating the mix, while Keene's songs are more subtle slow burners that unravel after a few listens. There's still some weird shit here—warped acoustic song "The Flood," drummer Bim Ditson's contribution, gets lost in the mix—but it's only a matter of time before And And And gets nods for being Portland's best band, not just its most prolific.