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HillyTown Goes Record Shopping with Lady Lamb

Welcome to HillyTown Goes Record Shopping — our regular feature where one of our staff members visits one of the many record shops around the city of Portland with musicians to find out just where their eclectic and personal tastes come from. This week we visited the Portland Bull Moose location with the one and only Aly Spaltro aka Lady Lamb — who will be playing a welcome home show at Port City Music Hall tonight starting at 8 p.m.

Photos by Grace Hager

Too busy listening to her newest release, After, to buy tickets? Sorry, but we have bad news for you (but great/regular news for her): the show tonight is completely sold out.

The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds

Who doesn’t love this album? If I find any records from the 50s, 60s or 70s, it brings up a lot of memories of when I was five years old, living in Arizona. I was the oldest of three children and sort of a loner type — I had what I thought was a walk-in closet — but because I was so small, was just a wide-open closet.

I would just bring in my tape player, a toy Fisher Price flashlight and a blank cassette and record songs on the radio that I loved in the dark. If for some reason I would miss part of a song, I would just wait for them to play it over again and try to press record at just the right time.

When I was a little kid, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?”  was obviously the song I was waiting to hear; but now as an adult I have come to appreciate all of Pet Sounds. It’s just gotten more beautiful as I grow older.


Belle & Sebastian: Tigermilk

I found this record when I was 14. This is one of those records that as an angsty 14 year-old I would tear up to and get over-dramatic about. The song that I was most drawn to was probably “Expectations.” It’s just a song about a girl that doesn’t fit in which was where I sort of was at the time.

But, as an adult who still listens to this record I’m drawn to songs like “I Don’t Love Anyone” and “My Wandering Days Are Over.”

In all honesty, I wouldn’t really say I’m a Belle & Sebastian fan — I’m a Tigermilk fan.


Frontier Ruckus: Sitcom Afterlife

These guys are from all over Michigan and their singer-songwriter for the group, Matt Milia, writes all of these songs and his friends come in and record them. I’ve been a fan of Frontier Ruckus since 2009, when I found out about them from a local [Portland musician] Dilly Dilly and a local filmmaker David Meiklejohn started encouraging them to come through Portland when they tour.

They’re super prolific and their lyrics are extremely wordy — which is something I’m super into. Since then, we know each other and are sort of friends — the weird, nerdy ice breaker though, was the fact that we both used the term “map water” as a word in our own songs.

I’m hoping to play some shows with them later this year though; I think it would be a great time.


Cyndi Lauper: She’s So Unusual

I love her — I really love her so much — and still listen to her. I know all of these songs and a friend of mine recently showed me a YouTube video of her playing on German TV in 1980 and I’ve never seen any performer to be so riveting.  She was hitting such high notes that her whole body was shaking to just reach that point.

I feel like she was a little overlooked once Madonna came around. She’s extremely talented and clearly had her day in the sun, but she was kind of the poor man’s weirdo, eclectic singer for the 1980s.


Modest Mouse: The Moon & Antarctica

This was a very important record to me when I was growing up, and actually bought my first copy of it at the Bull Moose in Brunswick. I bought it in 2003 before Good New for People Love Bad News broke out.

What really drew me to it was the album art; I would just go to Bull Moose in Brunswick and just be drawn to album art. I had a job over the summer and would just save all my money to blow on records at Bull Moose. I just love discovering music through happy accidents, and this was definitely one of them.

To this day, whenever I hear Modest Mouse, there is just this goodness and happiness attached to it — and I don’t feel like it’s dated at all.


My Brightest Diamond: This Is My Hand

I feel like My Brightest Diamond is underrated — when I first heard the single “Pressure,” I just fell in love with how beautiful the arrangement was.

I never listen to a song or record that I really love and think, “Oh, I’m going to try this myself.” But there was this one technique that I would love to try which I heard Beyoncé do which is when she sings a refrain in a low register, but then comes back to that same refrain later in the song with this huge level of power and being pumped-up. I really think it’s successful when it’s done well. There are little things like that where I will hear something and think, “Well, if I ever write some sort of anthem I could use that — I’ve never done that.”


Neutral Milk Hotel: On Avery Island

This one is obvious, but whatever it means a lot — it’s an album I loved then, and an album I love now. It’s another record that I bought at Bull Moose in Brunswick because I loved the cover and also it was on sale for like $7.

It was just one of those cliché things where you put it on, and it wasn’t what you knew you were looking for — but you finally found it, and you want it, and you need it.

I remember putting it on and just weeping and becoming so attached to it. This album is actually what inspired me to start writing poetry. I heard it before In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and I still love this one more.

I’ve actually had a couple of chances to meet [Jeff Mangum] because my last little record label I was on helped him put out a box set.

I was at a TuneYards show with that label owner and he just casually just said, “Hey Jeff is over there, do you want to meet him?” And I was just like “Fuck no! No I don’t want to meet him and keep him on this golden pedestal as this sacred creature.”


The Pixies: Doolittle

What the hell? Doolittle, freshman year of high school — it just changed everything I thought music was capable of.

I mean, can you imagine as a teenager hearing “Debaser” and just being absolutely blown away? But most of the music to this day is music that I would listen to in 2002 through 2005. I’m really bad at finding new music, and I’m really hard to please musically — so new things I like are hard to find.


Kurt Vile: Wakin On A Pretty Daze

I love Kurt Vile, I love this album and think it’s absolutely gorgeous. I listened to it all through my last tour almost non-stop. It’s just really relaxing to just be traveling, sitting in a van for hours and listening to this album.

I also connected a lot to some of the sentiments on this record. He sings a lot about being out on the road, missing home — but when he’s home he misses being out on the road again.


Chad VanGaalen: Shrinkdust

I just had to pick this album — it’s something that I’ve been listening to almost non-stop this tour. He’s a Sub Pop artist from the middle of nowhere in Canada, and he’s a great artist. But I think his art aside from his music is just as strong — he does a lot of stop motion music videos for other bands.

I don’t do a lot of covers, but this is just one of those records where I just think, “Oh, I want to cover this song, this song.”

He produces all of his records to and just gets this sonic texture I really love, and he does most — if not all of the art as well. Soft Airplane is another record of his I love and would choose.

Check out the full photo gallery here:

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