"The haunting voice of Amy Annelle will keep you up at night. The mind wanders down some dark corridors, and her song just may be the soundtrack to that unsettling journey. Annelle has taken her music on the road since 1999 as Amy Annelle and The Places, captivating audiences with her distinctive otherworldly vocals. This is no ordinary folk singer. She has an instinct for remaining true to roots music while taking it into a different dimension, echoing in the memory long after she’s stopped playing. You can see Annelle’s performance tonight at Stubb’s indoor venue, 801 Red River. Highly recommended"
AMY ANNELLE: press
"As a talent, Annelle is as formidable as she is approachable, something that people were learning at Googie’s; her voice could and is about to be described as high and lonesome. Like most of our best artists, though, she’s way too complex to be summed up easily. One reason she stands out so distinctly from the forests of folks with an acoustic guitar is that she really connects to the past—and can translate it to the right now. When she covered Jackson Frank’s “Blues Run the Game” toward the end of her set, the whole question of “singer or song?” became beautifully muddled; Amy and Jackson were both there, and it was almost worth crying over"
2010 PORTLAND FOLK FESTIVAL: "...this inaugural event has some mighty heft behind it with three founders—Slim Moon, Amanda Stark, Chantelle Hylton Simmons—who have a combined lifetime of local music servitude under their respective belts. It's nearly impossible to narrow down this list of performers, but here are our top picks:
Longtime Portlanders surely recognize the voice of one Amy Annelle, a former local singer who traveled east a few years back, eventually settling in Texas. In her first return in quite some time, Annelle... is armed with a fancy new disc, The Cimarron Banks, of frail folk numbers, each held tenderly together with her wondrous voice and nimble melodies. She'll be collaborating with the Portland Cello Project during their Woody Guthrie tribute, then embarking for a pair of not-to-be-missed solo sets as well." Mission Theater, Thurs Aug 19, 9:30 pm; The Woods, Sun Aug 22, 2:30 pm; Holocene, Sun Aug 22, 9 pm
"...there was no end to the genres crossed during the festival’s three days, and Amy Annelle's mix of traditionals, country covers and panhandle-inspired originals were a much-welcome opportunity to just sit back and listen to some folk music"
Visit link for live recording of the show.
"Yesterday morning I woke to a soft rain in a Maine barn. And by tonight, I'll be all the way to Oregon. Presently, I plan to take two deep breaths." So goes the unconventional newsletter of folk singer Amy Annelle, who spent the greater part of last month navigating Portland and playing shows like a Woody Guthrie tribute at the Mission Theater, the Portland Folk Festival and the Holocene Festival. But Austin's prodigal daughter has returned, announcing that she and select guests will christen Ruta Maya's new back bar with performances every Wednesday. Ruta Maya's an odd duck - it boasts swell acoustics, but on any given night of the week you're more likely to witness Tai Chi with Guy Forsyth or open-mic night than an honest-to-god traveling rock show. The opening of a folk-friendly back bar, however, bodes well. This evening Annelle's guest is Nick Hennies of Weird Weeds, who will accompany her "with improvised percussion." Annelle's latest album is called The Cimarron Banks and was released earlier this summer.
"The Portland Cello Project hosts a tribute to Woody Guthrie, with special guest collaborators Peter Yarrow, Dan Bern, Rebecca Gates, Laura Gibson & Amy Annelle....singing Guthrie’s ballad “Belle Starr,” written about the famed “Bandit Queen.”..she has her own interpretation of them and of the events and of Ms. Starr. That’s called “the Folk Tradition.” And that’s what this Festival is all about. The cellos, mournfully appropriate, kept to plucking and subtle bowing as the waltz tempo framed Anelle’s telling of Guthrie’s story."
"Each week I play something new and each week I'm blown away...Amy Annelle isn’t an indie-kid specializing in lets-play-dress-up pastiche; she’s an actual folkie who just so happens to be operating outside the mother culture...she reminds me of Kath Bloom in many ways, though she feels less agitated and more disembodied"
"The first song struck hard because of the surprisingly powerful voice...evocative and eerie style...she paints an earthy portrait of American toil and American history that captivates our collective gritty soul"
"If there’s one thing we Americanos do right, folks, its take our natural resources for granted, which is exactly what seems to be the case with one of our most woefully unsung national treasures, the Places, a.k.a. Amy Annelle and company. Her voice is strong and lilting, her aesthetic warm and grim, and it all amounts to transcendent and darkly jubilant modern folk. Fortunately, Amy takes nothing and no one for granted, and surrounds herself with some incredible musicians for live renditions of album songs and occasional other treats. Accompanying her at Hotel Utah was a violin and an upright bass, with deaths and desires under the mossy logs of her songs coming through just as clear as the joy in every strum and boot-stomp. The fiddler was Ralph White, formerly of Austin oddball bluegrass band the Bad Livers. A gem in his own right, Ralph performed solo on accordion and banjo after the Places’ set and will soon be collaborating with Amy on a project as a duo. They played with every bit of gumption as they would by the fire or in front of a crowd of thousands"
COMMON FOLK, COMMON THREADS "Like genuine folk singers before...Annelle makes music borne up from the land. Keen, empathetic observers, they seem to move, like ghosts, through walls and locked doors and into the homes and lives of men and women they'll never be, yet whose stories are somehow always in part their own -- and our own."
read the whole Billboard article here
Sure, the Places' Songs for Creeps offers plenty of subtle spectacle. But the jack-in-the-box electronics, distorted guitars, and otherworldly production flourishes that permeate Amy Annelle's sixth album (fourth as the Places) make her extraordinary scrap-yard Americana that much more surreal, as on the mini-epic "Natural Arc." When a distant doppelganger answers after she sings, "A glorious star that's descending," the Portland native comes off like a less-weathered Lucinda Williams in the midst of invoking Lilith. Exactly why she's opening for Vicious Vicious when she should be closing for the Handsome Family is anybody's guess. We're just lucky to be basking in her presence. Unconditionally recommended. —Rod Smith
"Under her own name and as the Places, the powerfully affecting songwriter Amy Annelle has quietly put together a body of work that rates with anything you (or anybody) would call 'Americana'. Ghosts and the living mingle in her songs, as well as a multitude of choice covers, and few artists get closer to the ineffable essence of this land of ours in all its great and awful beauty. Expect to hear plenty of new songs written way out there in the Oklahoma Panhandle."
"Songs for Creeps" has a crumbling, dank feeling, but Annelle's vocals have a strong, clear edge to them, a slight twangy catch of a lost past returning to a new century"
Songs for Creeps
(High Plains Sigh, 2006)
Amy Annelle’s time will come. Her albums are already generally well received, and garner predictable comparisons to Emmylou, Welch, and Waits. Columnists in local weeklies often take initiative to preview or review her shows favorably. Her songs roam through states of brooding, tradition, clamor, and cheer, each branded by the fire of her voice—storm-honed, jagged, and ageless as driftwood. She’s backed up Jandek, and Okkervil River, and plays often with the legendary Michael Hurley. Yet what remains is for “Annelle” to become the household name it deserves to be, even if only in the music-obsessed houses of record stores, practice rooms, rock-crit namedropping pageants, and creaky-floored rural haunts that smell of whiskey, ash, and detritus-caked boot prints, and Songs for Creeps is the album that should have made it happen.
In roughly 10 years, whether under her own name or with backup as the Places, Annelle has never made a bad album. In fact, she’s made nothing but a string of exceptionally solid and beautifully forlorn albums—a claim which few artists working today can make (not that she necessarily would—I’m making it for her). Songs for Creeps remains the latest kink in that twine; the third proper Places LP if you exclude 2005’s fantastic covers album, Fawns With Fangs, and the two strictly solo records released under her own name, though it’s the sixth Annelle-based album overall. While it did garner some requisite praise in its day—a 7.6 from Pitchfork a month after its release; an eventual #8 spot on one of the Billboard Critic’s Choice Top 10s of 2006—it still somehow failed to generate the sustained buzz it deserved. After all, it did fall between two hotly anticipated albums by two other established giants in the indie-folk field: Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s immaculate The Letting Go in September, and then Joanna Newsom’s feverishly awaited Ys in November. While neither bares much similarity to the Places, there’s nevertheless an overlap of presumed audience, and for fans of these still-forming folk strata, it was a lot to take in. Couple that with the relative disadvantage of being self-released (High Plains Sigh is the record label run by Annelle for the express purpose of publishing her own works), and what you’ve got is a dark horse on a desert island.
Teeming with trepidation and spiritual tumult that's at once existential, artistic, romantic, even sexual, Songs for Creeps conquers its pitch darkness through the light of the escape that is its own melodious transcendence. While not as deliberate as a concept album, themes of doubt, the impossibility of true self-expression, and escape by ways of death, drugs, sleep, and sex run artfully and harrowingly throughout. Both musically and conceptually, Creeps is as strong as it is bleak from start to finish, while also displaying a breadth of songwriting capability, as well as creativity in the recording and production. It sports just enough studio flare and psychedelic accentuations to sate the indie set, yet remains authentic and timelessly rustic enough to fly just as well on the overcast stages of outback county fairs. It’s an inadvertent niche, limited only by a listener’s capacity for the undauntedly morose. (“Slit me up from gut to throat and call it a victory,” sings Annelle in “Mercy Me”, in but one of the album’s more tormented passages.) Yet along with the lyrical omnipresence of wraiths both literal and emotional, there’s a warmth and redemption exuded in the execution of these songs that spreads from underneath them like the expansive roots of an underground fungus.
Annelle’s studio craftiness and highly capable partners bring the Appalachian-Gothic rehab folk of Creeps to such Technicolor fruition that it’s easy to take for granted its juxtaposition of the more laissez-faire atmospherics (and slight hiss) of three songs self-recorded straight to four-track cassette. “I’m A-Gone Down to the Green Fields”, for example, is a striking four-track gem sandwiched between two deft studio productions. In this angelically harmonized, poison-flowered dirge to the sort of windowless bar in which the hopeless start drowning sorrows before noon, the singer agonizes over the inadequacy of expression in the midst of deep frustration, all by way of graceful acoustic strumming and gorgeous vocals. The backdrop of tape noise, though audible from the start, becomes only the tiniest bit intrusive towards the track’s end, as soft, lingering guitars float off for a half-minute of ethereal psychedelia, after which its whisper subsides seamlessly into the next subtle drone—the deep bass hum of the following song, “Such as the Earth (Neveroff’s Fate)."
“Such as the Earth” then leaps into the saddle of an upbeat boot-stomp gallop (called “bron-y-aur stomps” in the liner notes) and a major, anthem-strength melody, and springs altogether from a chapter of Tolstoy’s Resurrection, in fact borrowing its title and other lyrical phrases directly from the great work’s prose. (Apparently Tolstoy is to Places as Tolkien is to Zeppelin.) It’s a chapter in which characters react to news of the suicide of an associate, Neveroff; in the song, the singer encounters Neveroff in a dream of the afterlife, where the two commune in silence, underwater. “I wasn’t much for talking, neither was he, and so we got on beautifully” she sings, tethered once again to the pain of being incapable of expressing herself in words, yet this time elated by the opportunity not to bother, or to escape the need at all. Though consistent in its troubles, the album never defaults to any predictable whine or woe. Rather, it delves nakedly into its anxieties with an intensely (if downtrodden) human precision and timeless folk fortitude.
Truly an album of distinction, every song on Creeps stands up to such close consideration, while it’s just as magnetic when left to play through its entirety and enjoyed solely for its melodic peaks and rivers. Hell, even the artwork is striking. It’s the Places album that would be queen, clearly delineating Annelle as an artist to be watched, tracked, and paid regular attention to, lest one day she buck up and cease responding to the demon muses anchoring her to such creature coffins and the dank, living soil between them and us.
7:30pm, Stephen F's Bar When not strumming alongside Austin multi-instrumentalist Ralph White in Precious Blood, Annelle's fine as wine solo. Her spare country-folk comes alive on latest LP The Cimarron Banks, a naturalistic view and haunting way with melody spanning folk tradition from Appalachia to Wyoming.
[NOISE-DRIVEN COUNTRY POP] Amy Annelle, an early Hush Records artist and former Portlander, has found a home on the road. She's been traveling under the name The Places—which originally referred to her specific band but is now a catch-all moniker for whoever she plays with—since 2003. On the Places' new record, Songs for Creeps, that list includes Jay Pelicci of 31Knots, Portland-based guitarist Paul Brainard and Brian Beattie, who also co-produced the album (he also produced Okkervil River's fantastic Black Sheep Boy, on which Annelle is "the lady singer"). Playing with Annelle in Portland will be Oakland musicians Joshua Housch and George D'Annunzio. WW recently spoke with Annelle via email from Austin. CASEY JARMAN.
What did living in Portland do for your music?
I love Oregon. It's my favorite state. Portland was more sleepy and secret when I first got there in '98. A wave of musicians were finding their voice and slaving away in the laboratory, brewing up what would be some of the bands and albums that Portland is now famous for. It was like a dream, walking around in the rain and the silvery light, working out songs in my head...I made four albums in Portland, and the creativity, diversity and work ethic of the people I know from that time—the musicians, people running labels—was pretty intense. Everybody believed. I'm sure a lot of great things are happening in Portland nowadays, but it was getting too crowded, and I was feeling lost.How did you learn to sing? I was not a natural singer or charismatic, talented child. I had to find my voice the hard way—through the initial horror of hearing oneself on tape for the first time, the self-consciousness...blasting through several layers of bedrock to get to the core, where it resonates by itself and just uses me as a conduit. My favorite key to sing in lately is E flat, which I just found out is the key the earth resonates in.
How do you stay afloat financially while always on the road?
I sell my albums and play shows, and pick up work as needed. I've been a laborer, a forest ranger, a cook, a carny, cleaning lady, bartender. I've done drug studies and medical experiments, I've busked on the street and in the subway. I can't hold down straight jobs. It's just a matter of time before I get the guillotine. But that's all right, there's nothing I want to do besides make more music.
Amy Annelle on The Lumpy, Bumpy, Long and Dusty Road. Click link for interview.
1. How and when did Joe Carducci and David Lightbourne first contact you about doing the Upland Breakdown?
It was the doing of my friend Michael Hurley. It was last year. I remember calling the phone number Michael gave me to see about joining this mountain hoot. I got a scratchy land line up in Wyoming and shot the breeze with David Lightbourne about music for a long time. I got a good feeling. I was in the yard, under the stars, this empty high plains house I was staying in. I went inside afterwards and slept in an old pine paneled room with apocryphal shit carved in the walls.
2. Lightbourne told me in an interview that, to him, the Breakdown attracts “musician’s musicians who aren’t in it for commercial success. People who have an insanely huge positive rep in the musical community, old timers who are playing for the fun of it” and fans who “want the most un-fucked-with music.” (by un-fucked-with I think he means a lot of glossy, commercial studio sheen).
Do you agree with this summery of the Breakdown and how do you think that your musical philosophy and aesthetic jibe with Lightbourne’s view/the other artists at the Breakdown?
I think it's a time warp to where people play music and experience music together to celebrate, to get gone! And it's high in the mountains, so it's easier to get gone. For the musicians I'd imagine it's also a celebration of the best kind of long, passionate, fucked up love affairs with personal muses.
3. Your press material says that The Places have a history of playing out-of-the-way venues (say for instance, Centennial, Wyoming and LaPorte, Colorado) as well as traditional ones (say New York’s Town Hall). Do you make a special effort to play the lesser-known places? Do you enjoy the experience of playing a honkey tonk in rural Colorado more than playing a well-known rock venue or do you appreciate both equally? Does your set change when confronting a crowd that is only accustomed to say, a standard, modern country juke box?
I do like out of the way places, they give you more room, and better prospects of finding a ghost town to explore. They attract a different lot. Folks in out of the way places tend to be less concerned with contextualizing music, they trust their gut and if they're feeling it. I love playing wherever there's folks who want to take a load off, or get gone, or listen. It seems like people are seeking the same thing in music, no matter where they are. Sometimes there's more static but hopefully certain things click and the circuit is completed.
4. I’ve read that the Places are a revolving group of musicians. Who will be accompanying you at the Breakdown shows? Will you be bringing gear that approximates the atmospheric sounds of Songs for Creeps or will it be a more stripped down set?
This tour finds the Places as a fractious acoustic duo, myself on 1933 Gibson L-00 guitar and vocal chords, and Ralph White accompanying on fiddle and other sounds, found and made. Ralph is also playing a solo set on Saturday, I accompany his set some on guitar and voice. Ralph was a core member of country freaks The Bad Livers back in the 90s. He's got a highly personal and psychedelic style that's immersed in ancient rural folk musics and the echoes of strange solo voyages.
5. The lyrics on Songs for Creeps are great. I get a strong feeling of the road or constant travel itself as being just as important as a character in your songs as, say a lover or a friend. Most of what you describe on the album isn’t the average Kerouacian sense of the road as wild and ecstatic freedom, either, but a complex place that hurts as much as it helps. The phrase, “blackness stays behind if we just keep moving” on “Blessed Speed,” in it’s own dark way, sees the road as savior, but, a song like “Mercy Me” feels absolutely fed up and defeated by transience, the cheap motels, the walls rattled by semis. How do you see the road or constant movement as important to your songwriting? Why do you find it fascinating as a subject?
Thank you. I think the songs answer those questions better than I could!
Also, in your press materials, you are described as someone who “lives on the road.” How central is experience to your songwriting? For example, these songs don’t seem like they could come from someone living in a city, or even someone who stays in one place for any extended period of time. Please excuse the clichéd question, but do you consider yourself an artist who needs to suffer for her art?
I lived to tell these tales. It lends some substance to ephemeral things that otherwise would just be hounding me and might be hounding you, too.
6. Another thing I really admire about your songwriting is its visceral quality, your ability to get to the guts of a feeling. A song like the “Lion’s Share,” it’s all bloody and fleshy and fearless in it’s description of basically consuming someone else and moving on. Do you feel like you’ve developed this skill naturally or has it been a long conscious process with a lot of literary and musical influence?
Mostly it's been overcoming fears. Brandishing my sword, but also knowing how and when to take off my armor. In that sense I feel I've just begun.
7. The atmospherics on Songs for Creeps are fascinating. What are some of the more notable or strange tools that you used to get the sounds?
I'm glad you dig. There's nothing fancy, just imaginations working to make natural environments that lend to the telling of the song story or state. Like when you get afraid of something insignificant and give it all kinds of weird power, or love some small thing and invest it with beauty and meaning that might take a while for somebody else to appreciate, if they can at all.
8. Do you have another recording project in the works? What’s next for the Places? And, when will the Hurley tribute be out? That is terribly exiting!
Yes, two albums are in the works! Ralph White and I are doing a collaborative project together, we're making an album of our crooked versions of old traditional songs. And I am very excited to be embarking on a new original Places album this winter. I don’t' know when the Hurley tribute is coming out. I think an Irish label is putting it out. Eventually.
• Amy Annelle and the Places — 8 p . m . Tuesday in Used Kids Records , 1980 N . High St . ( 614- 294-3833 )
Annelle, who has toured with the Decemberists, played her only other concert in Columbus with one of Lucinda Williams’ idols: singer-songwriter Michael Hurley.
Having spent time as a carnival worker, forest ranger, chambermaid and all-around scrappy laborer, the roving singerguitarist has accumulated many experiences to draw from when writing songs. Annelle will showcase tunes from her latest album of leftfield folk-rock, Songs for Creeps.
Amy Annelle has as many addresses as she does bandmates: the exhaustingly restless and prolific singer-songwriter wanders the country playing shows under the name The Places, and has recorded with and/or collaborated onstage with members of Okkervil River, The Castanets, The Sadies, The Decemberists, The Thermals and Death Cab For Cutie, to name just a few. After lauded releases on Hush and Absolutely Kosher, her most recent disc is a mail-order-only covers album called "Fawns With Fangs: Selections From the Dark Heart of the Thicket", which includes tributes to everyone from Bert Jansch to Heatmiser. Her upcoming full-length "Songs For Creeps" is due in October on her own High Plains Sigh label. While Annelle's solo appearance at Chielle is free, donations will surely be welcome. Opening: Bad Weather California, Clotheshorse.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Amy Annelle is currently wandering around the no-man's-land that surrounds the old airport in Northwest Aurora. Her nomadic tendencies have led her to a part of the city from which few would draw inspiration. There's a sense of isolation there, though, that fuels the music of The Places, a project led by Annelle -- who recently guested on Okkervil River's excellent 2005 effort, Black Sheep Boy -- that features a revolving cast of players. Taking on rock, folk and psychedelic covers on her latest disc, Fawns With Fangs: Selections From the Dark Heart of the Thicket, Annelle and company reverently pay tribute to Led Zeppelin, Pretty Things, Syd Barrett, Michael Hurley and Elliott Smith. Annelle has saved her own deeply personal songwriting for Songs for Creeps, the experimental and atmospheric followup to Fawns slated for release this October. Catch the Places this Sunday, August 27, at Chielle.
Amy Annelle's songs don't easily fit into categories, as the best don't. They're haunting, though, and raw and often filled with a strange beauty. If you don't believe me, listen to the Places albums Call It Sleep (Hush) and The Autopilot Knows Best, or under her own name, A School of Secret Dangers (Hush). Currently weaving its way into my brain is The Places' new ragtag covers album, Fawns With Fangs, featuring tortured and time-stopping versions of songs by Michael Hurley, Bob Dylan, Bert Jansch, Elliott Smith, and others. It's the first release on the new label that Annelle started, High Plans Sigh, which will be releasing the next Places album, of original songs, Songs for Creeps, on October 10. To hear a ton of songs and keep up with the latest information, check out www.highplainssigh.com
What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?
Getting the hell back on the road and touring.
What aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?
Making music is the best. It is a parallel world to the "real world" and I am truly grateful: without it I would never feel at home. I try not to get discouraged when I have to do real world stuff like work crappy jobs between tours, because it's just a matter of time before I get to split.
What are you up to right now, music-wise? (Current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc).
A few months ago I started a record label called High Plains Sigh. The first release was a backwards covers album called Fawns With Fangs: Selections From the Dark Heart of the Thicket that's all live and 4-track home recordings. I say backwards because covers albums are usually premeditated, the songs are carefully selected to represent influences, and then are recorded in a studio. Whereas these are songs that I love that I had recorded at home, or they were part of a live set or radio show that managed to get recorded. They were not intended to wind up together, but now they make a picture together in their own way.
I'm waiting for the next release to come back from the factory. It's the new Places album Songs for Creeps that I made with Brian Beattie in Austin and Jay Pellicci in San Francisco. We'll be touring to support it in the fall. Adam Kriney and I and some other friends are going to make an improv album of some of my weirder unrecorded songs this fall in New York, to be called Giant Metal Butterflies. The houses in the high plains town I've been staying in have all these giant metal butterflies attached to their sides, and I am documenting them with photos as if they are a newly discovered species. I am in the process of inviting music makers I admire to do duets with me or each other for another High Plains Sigh project. I'd like to do something fun like a subscription series of 7" duet singles, with each person choosing a side, or two disparate artists doing the same song.
What's the most unusual place you've ever played a show or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?
I often record and play in vibrational places. You are surprising the ghosts, or the birds who live in the eaves or the mice under the floor, and the acoustics are usually very distinct. Depending on whether there's walls, if the windows are broken, if there's dirt or wood or linoleum on the floor, if the wind is blowing. On Thanksgiving a ways back Kyle Field, Ryan Stowe and I wrote a song on a beach on the Pacific Ocean, and recorded it in my van with the door open, with seagulls and waves and kids on skateboards. A friend and I made improvised guitar recordings in ghost towns and abandoned pioneer houses all over eastern Oregon, including a collapsing barn with a horse looking through the window, and a beautiful Victorian farm house in a valley that had been flooded and abandoned, and on the floor was a letter from a girl to her soldier brother in Vietnam.
Recently a recording session was sabatoged in the abandoned performance hall of Fred Waring (the big band/vocal pop group leader from the 1930s—1970s). My friend Lou lives in a spooky little town on the Delaware River, across from Fred Waring's old world HQ. It's a beautiful grand 1930s building that's very much intact, with a swooping staircase that you're supposed to walk down in an evening gown with a highball in one hand and a big long cigarette holder in the other. We ran a 250' extension cord through the window and brought a 4-track cassette recorder up to the main space and set up two microphones. The acoustics were amazing: like 25 foot ceilings, ceramic tile floors, and darkness with a few candles to see. We were just getting the tape rolling and this radio interference kept breaking through the signal path, and I was like: uh-oh, that's a two-way radio…a cop came up the stairs in the darkness and was taking this bizarre approach, being all "cool" and talking the "lingo" with us because he thought we were up there smoking crack! He handcuffed Lou but not me, I think because Lou had a beard and cops are scared of beards. When we told him what we were really doing, he felt sort of bad about breaking it up, and helped roadie our gear out of the building. I think the West is the best to do that sort of thing. People aren't as uptight. It seems like the east is full of security guards and nosy neighbors.
In what ways does the place where you live (or places where you have lived), affect the music you create, or your taste in music?
I am influenced by the energy of new musicians I meet, by the voice of the author of the book I am reading, by the regional accent where I stay, by the way the birds sing and how the clouds develop in an afternoon and the sound of the general maintenance level of cars being driven by. I stayed in an empty house a little while ago where somebody's CB radio was coming through on my 4-track. So I spent a lot of time recording, in exquisite detail, this guy's vitriolic rants about his CB-world enemies. I am a creature, when there's not a tree around I get really worried. I can't stand strip malls or those creepy new subdivisions they build in empty sun-baked fields.
When was the last time you wrote a song? What can you tell us about it?
The one I wrote most recently is called "I Heard the Bird Part II" with just words and sort of a melody and my 60's Maestro drum machine through a Memory Man delay. I recorded the parts together, and was playing the delay like an instrument, to make the drum machine freak out and abstract the lyrics. One of them is "I don't want to feel your feathers if it stills your wings; won't look into those green eyes if it stops your singin'." It might be something we can do live and improvise each night.
As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people...and why do you think that is?
Equally as interested. I go in binges. I can be a real hermit sometimes. Then when I really love something new I listen to it a lot, and lose myself in that music, and am writing little parts around theirs or come up with tangents in their style. This happens a lot at live shows--last week I rode the cosmic waves with the Bill Frissell Quintet! It was awesome!
Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener? (Old or new music? Music like yours or different from yours?)
My main music collection has been in storage since we left for a long tour last spring. I ended up in a different town, and so have been listening to records and tapes I get at thrift stores, bands we met on tour, and compilations that people have made for me. Most recently have been digging some brilliant stuff from all ages, like Porest, Chrysalis, Chrome, Bert Jansch & John Renbourn, Captain Beyond, Lewis & Clarke, Roy Harper, Josephine Foster, Ronine Lane, Ariel Kalma, Arbouretum, The Gun Club, Circle. Then another friend sent a rosetta stone of 40s and 50s music: Memphis Minnie, JB Lenoir, Amos Milbourn, early Roy Orbison. I am playing the shit out of a nice vinyl copy of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" I got at the thrift store, it has all the sleeves--the artwork alone takes hours to look at. Also, I was surprised to hear Patti Smith narrating a song on the Blue Oyster Cult album Agents of Fortune. Who knew. I bought a nice Kitty Wells gospel cassette from an old-timer selling stuff out of the back of his van at the flea market. Some interesting CDRs have come my way from overseas: a friend in Austria sent me his favorite contemporary American song makers, Richmond Fontaine and David Pajo and Dolorean and Damien Jurado and Smog. And a collective of kids from Bangkok sent their psychedelic and improv music.
Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What's one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?
The self-titled first record by the British psych band July, from 1967. They were all about 19 or 20 when they made it and it rocks and it is experimental and earnest and whimsical and serious and confused and totally un-selfconscious. I love everything about it. An amazing, introspective kind of tape-compression galore recording and a complete sound world. You can hear some of their influences, like the Kinks and Jimi Hendrix and Indian music and the Beach Boys. It's like hanging out in the band's imagination, rocking out and smoking a joint, then having one of those existential conversations about love that you have when you're 20.
What's the saddest song you've ever heard?
Most any song by Harry Nilsson. There's an out-take on his album The Point, I'm not sure what its' called, but it goes, "I can't make it alone". It seems to me that whoever it's about is already long gone but is physically still in the picture. And that can be a far more lonesome feeling, because there is no nail in the coffin yet, so you can still keep opening it up and checking to make sure it's really dead. The song sounds like a last-ditch hopeless transmission. It has these gorgeous spooky modulating piano chords but somehow the vocal melody doesn't seem to change key, and it is only about a minute long. If it was any longer it would probably have people jumping off bridges.
THE PLACES is the exploratory song-making outfit of Amy Annelle. Annelle's songs spring from the bedrock of traditional musics, but venture into the avant-garde to create a feral and beautiful sort of folk music that "straddles the fence between the organic and the atmospheric" (Rolling Stone). The Places investigate and deconstruct Annelle's evocative compositions with non-denominational fervor. Annelle will be joined by bassist Jude Webre (Dimestore Dance Band) and free-jazz/out-rock drummer Adam Kriney of LA OTRACINA and OWL SOUNDS.
In the one which anxiety type woman SSW likes, even at this store the second album the dust the Amy Annelle girl in the extremely long cellar PLACES which is led. Already immediately re-visiting Japan! Jay of 31KNOTS is received, the new work third album it is in recording, but some days ago being mail order only, release just did [orukavuaarubamu] ([handomeidojiyake] & numbering to enter) arrives. Amy tunes raised in [maisupe], it is, but in addition the original album it is different, it relaxed 佇 will not, but at all in calling the shank. [kavua] we do ELLIOTT SMITH&HEATMISER, BOB DYLAN, LED ZEPPELIN&ROBERT PLANT, SYD BARRETT, PRETTY THINGS and RONNIE LANE etc. With recent live, Kevin Shea of COPTIC LIGHT you served the back and/or with, the ability woman had been connected after all. You think that now it arrives to around end of the month.
With solo albums such as Which One's You? and A School of Secret Dangers Austin-based Amy Annelle has earned a reputation as one of the bright young hopes for intelligent songwriting in the current independent music movement. Annelle has also earned credit with her peers, many of whom have collaborated with her in The Places, a revolving door band (at times it has featured members of the Decembrists and 31 Knots) that she leads and with which she has recorded the well-liked albums The Autopilot Knows You Best and Call It Sleep.
Jedd Beaudoin: You've collaborated with members of 31 Knots, the Decembrists, etc. over the years and now with Andy Piper. You hang with some cool cats.
Amy Annelle: Believers! Lifers. Friends. It happens naturally. There was a core of believers that all started bands in Portland around the same time. It was small so everybody knew each other and supported each other from the start. It's inevitable to want to be a part of the worlds that get made.
JB: You once described the Places' Call It Sleep album as "like a fucked up friend who wants to unload and need more than you maybe want to give." I think that maybe we all relate to the idea of having a record as a "friend." Did you have records like that when you were growing up or perhaps still?
AA: As a kid I defined my parameters with albums, as teenagers are wont to do…. It is also how I made friends, liking the same albums [as someone else], especially if you are freaks, and way more into music than most kids. Albums helped me to put into words and sounds things that I was feeling but were totally confusing. It explains or explores things without ever having to be literal and that is very cool. I still hear records that are mapping out new spaces all the time; I get sucked inside records and songs. I want to know what makes them tick, or just feel it.
JB: Are there certain places — topics or approaches — where you won't go, things you say, "I don't think it's right to write about"?
AA: I wouldn't ever write a song about eating butterfly wing sandwiches because that's been done to death. Same goes for nail polish songs. Songs about laser vaginal rejuvenation can get annoying after a while.
JB: You've lived in different parts of the country over the years — Chicago, Portland, now Austin. Does place tend to impact your writing or do you think that you draw from personal themes and that those remain consistent?
AA: Geography does tend to trip things off. I just wrote a song called "The Miners Lie" after waking up on a dirt road across from the miner's graveyard in a ghost town in west Texas. It's not so much about miners, but I started thinking, "This was a mining town, and they did that all with toxic chemicals, so where's all the mercury? Where's all the cyanide?" And that just started bouncing around and stirring things up and then I got a song.
JB: Which record from your record collection probably needs to be retired although you just can't bring yourself to let go of it?
AA: You'd think something like my 12" remix of "Over the Shoulder" by Ministry…. But, no, we listened to that for the first time in like 10 years and were freaking out about the old drum machine sounds, totally brutal and simple but kind of cute at the same time. That same night we busted out the Liquid Sky soundtrack, which was crazy and way different sounding too with all that perspective. Also, I have one of those DJ turntables with pitch control, [so] anything you listen to at a different speed becomes a new beast — like Billie Holiday at 25 RPMs. Or Shellac.
JB: Joan Baez or Carly Simon?
AA: I want to interview both of them for a book on the heyday of the swinger-songwriter scene.
JB: What's the longest, dullest, most soul-draining stretch you've ever driven (or experienced as passenger)?
AA: On one tour the shows got booked in such a way that we drove the entire Los Angeles metropolitan area six times in three days. I was going out of my mind. Once [a friend] and I got in a huge traffic jam in the middle of Washington state and it took us like six hours to go 50 miles. But if there's not traffic, I am cool with pretty much any drive, I like moving.
JB: Black Sabbath or Judas Priest?
AA: Both! Then Blue Oyster Cult. Then Rush's Hemispheres. Then Thin Lizzy.