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Exclusive Premiere: Aan “I Don’t Need Love”

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When critics compare your group to such buzzy bands as Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors, it can be a lot to live up to. But Aan is getting used to it. In fact, the Portland, Ore.,-based band may actually be thriving under the pressure, because their music just keeps getting better and better. Led by singer-guitarist Bud Wilson, the trio has been performing together for three years, but for their fans it has been a slow burn as the group manages to stay under the radar while producing some of the most interesting and inventive music around.

Aan’s first official recording came in 2010, when they released the churning, sparse and deconstructed five-song EP “I Could Be Girl For You.” The EP was filled with distorted pop and stripped down fingerpicked tunes that paired Wilson’s schizophrenic-in-a-good-way song structures with emotionally-wrought lyrics. Aan then released the 7″ single “Somewhere’s Sunshine,” a reconstructed modernist rock number that brought to mind Grizzly Bear and showed that the band has a lot more to offer.

Now comes “I Don’t Need Love,” an angry indie rock love song built on a desperation that finds an outlet in meandering guitar lines, wildly sonic singing and frenetic drumming. It’s a solid and accessible song from a group that has been waiting to be discovered for far too long.

The video comes courtesy of Into the Woods, a Portland outfit who has been documenting the city’s vibrant music culture through a series of endearing and charmingly awesome videos starring the area’s bands. You may also recognize them from here .

Aan “I Don’t Need Love”:

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Fred Armisen and Stephen Colbert Sample Foghat Wine

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Fred Armisen and Stephen Colbert Had a Rockin’ Wine Tasting

Catch Fred on the new season of Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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As per The Late Show’s themed gift recommendation this past December, we all spent the holidays delightfully unwrapping various Foghat albums and compilations. And while those cassettes remain in our tape decks, there’s still more ’70s boogie rock to enjoy in the form of fermented grapes. Yes, Foghat has its very own wine, straight from the cellars of drummer and Late Show fan Roger Earl, and Portlandia’s Fred Armisen joined host Stephen Colbert to sample the goods. And thanks to Earl’s watchful eye and drumstick swirl during fermentation, the pinot noir unfolds nicely on the tongue and has the perfect notes to swig directly from the bottle while shrieking, “HELLO, CLEVELAND!”

Watch Fred Armisen and Stephen Colbert don literal “fog hats” and take a slow ride through some tasty spirits below.

Exclusive download: Barna Howard “Timber Nails and Tears”

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When a song expresses the kind of deep longing found in “Timber Nails and Tears,” you know the songwriter has left a part of himself, along with people and places, behind him. Portland’s Barna Howard, born in Missouri, formerly of Chicago and Boston, is one such songwriter. Fellow native Missourian, Mark Twain once said, “The longing of my heart is a fairy portrait of myself.” Howard’s brand of folk music is shaped as much by Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt as it is all the places he left behind. I can hear it echoing in this song about a man who left is cherry tree and his love when he went off to war promising, “I’ll send you kisses across the water, for I’d go mad if love weren’t true.”

Howard recorded his self-titled debut in a Portland basement and it was released in February on Mama Bird Recording Co.

 
DOWNLOAD: Barna Howard – “Timber Nails and Tears”

What have you left behind? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

Exclusive Premiere: Sound And Vision: Blake Mills

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Meet Blake Mills. At 25, the Venice-based musician has already stacked up a career’s worth of gigs as a session and touring guitarist, playing with a diverse array of musicians that span from Cass McCombs to Conor Oberst to Lykke Li to Kid Rock. When producer Rick Rubin needs a guitarist, Mills is the first guy he calls. He’s worked with everyone from Mark Ronson to Dangermouse to Don Was. Yet, for despite his eye-popping resume, Mills has never really released an album. Well, sort of. While his album “Break Mirrors” has been out on Record Collection since November 2010, it never really “came out.” The album wasn’t sold in stores, didn’t have a barcode, was never sent out to radio or to press, etc. But as friends burned copies for their friends and a small cult following ensued, word about Blake and “Break Mirrors” got out.

Then there are his impromptu jams at Mollusk Surf Shop in Venice, CA. At first it was just Blake and his girlfriend (of the up-and-coming LA band HAIM) performing, but as rumors of the music spread, people started coming out of the woodwork to watch and to sit in. People like Jackson Brown, Cass Mccombs, Jenny Lewis, Charlie Sexton, Billy Gibbons, Dave Rawlings, Val Mccallum, Smokey Hormel, and Matt Sweeney have all swung by the shop to play with Blake.

Blake spent much of last year touring with and opening for the legendary Lucinda Williams and this summer/fall he is the special guest for Fiona Apple’s entire US tour and will accompany her on guitar during her set.

In his spare time, Blake has taken up producing. Most recently he co-produced the new Jesca Hoop record, co-produced a track with Bill Gibbons for the forthcoming Fleetwood Mac tribute record (Concord), produced the latest album from Nonesuch artist Sara Watkins and produced some tracks for former bandmates Dawes.

Blake Mills is somebody to watch. Luckily, you can. Right here in the fourth installment of Sound & Vision, a series of web documentaries highlighting the individual stories of emerging artists. For more information about Sound & Vision visit redbullsoundstage.com:

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