[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.
The Places plays Saturday, March 24, with Pseudosix and Zak Riles at the Towne Lounge. 9:30 pm. $6. 21+.