[PSYCHEDELIC DREAM POP] "I grew up on AM oldies radio stations and bad reception," says Bud Wilson, founder of local experiment-pop outfit Aan. Though he's only referring to his formative musical influences, it's clear that aesthetic has never left him. The music on his band's full-length debut, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, falls right in the middle—dreamy, psychedelic pop shot through with a healthy amount of experimental discordance.
"We're heavily influenced by sexy, sweaty '60s songs," says Wilson, an Idaho native. "[But] now when I listen to the older pop songs, it's about how the vocal arrangements are constructed, how stereo space is used, how thick the reverb can get."
Started as a solo bedroom recording project (under the name Amor Ad Nauseam) two years ago, Aan—pronounced "on"—has slowly evolved into a full-fledged band, including Michael Trotti (keyboards, guitar), Reese Lawhon (bass, vocals) and Lucas Houck (drums). And Aan's sound has evolved with it, moving from what Wilson calls "short Sunday sunset pieces" into widescreen vistas: songs filled with wavering harmonies, warbling guitar and synthesizer, and a healthy amount of clatter and rumble.
For all the band's artful intentions, though, it is, in Wilson's words, "a pop band, whatever that means." In Aan's case, it means singsong melodies and sunny piano lines that rise above the din of tunes like "An Aspiring Chinaski," or the wistful lilt of Wilson's vocals and his lofty, ringing guitar playing on "Rubber Trees."
The lines between listener-friendly and abrasive get even cloudier during the band's immersive live performances, where its recorded material gets turned inside out. "Songs can become more emotive," says Wilson. "The quiets are quieter and such. A lot of times a song is written and I'll go through it with the band and they'll say, 'That's cool, but what about this?' Eventually it's something new again."
The fluctuating quality of Aan's sound has garnered it fans of such like-minded peers as Parenthetical Girls and Au. But Wilson still feels a little disconnected from the Portland music scene: "I don't think we really square up with any group of people here," he says. "There's no scene net to catch our fall."
Aan plays Wednesday, July 9, with Sam Cooper, Megafaun and Achille Lauro at Someday Lounge. 9 pm. $6. 21+.