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The best kept secret in music


"Review of Don't Say A Word"

Sounding like the midway point between the early days of Elvis Costello and the sweeping sounds of The Cure and The Catherine Wheel, Mike Petkau is a Winnipeg-based rock teddy bear with a booming, bass-y voice. His new album, Don't Say A Word is a slight departure from the acoustic folk and rock bits he has released haphazardly over the past few years... a solid rocker that would make Costello and Co. proud.

- SEE Magazine (Fritz Francois)


When he's not challenging the notions of what a singer-songwriter can be, touring, producing other people's records, working his day job as a recording engineer, or staying up for days on end working on the final mixes for his album, Mike Petkau somehow finds time to run the fledgling record label, Head In The Sand... now, Petkau is making a difference himself. Head In The Sand has just released Darren Day's debut This Evening Tonight, and Petkau's latest, Don't Say A Word is on tap for March. While they could both be vaguely described as singer-songwriter albums they both go beyond the hoary old staple of an artist earnestly strumming an acoustic guitar, largely due to Petkau's ambitious production.
- Regina Leader-Post (Emmet Matheson)

"Review of Don't Say A Word"

The follow-up to 2002's Parapet, Don't Say A Word see's Mike Petkau growing as a musician and producer. Petkau is a singer/songwriter first and foremost, but his talents behind the boards mean these songs are coloured as much by loops and subtle effects as by the singer's big voice. Songs such as I Claim These Streets and B People show depth and character, and Lipstick Vinegar introduces the delicate vocals of Meagan Peasgood as a moving counterpoint. A Korg MS2000 and Farfisa organ are featured on C'mon, an uptempo tune that allows Petkau to showcase what is developing into a signature vocal style. Don't Say A Word is a great album that remains true to singer/songwriter traditions without sounding like any number of 'dude-with-guitar' projects. Pick it up.
- Uptown Magazine (Mike Warkentin)

"Review of Don't Say A Word"

Mike Petkau has earned quite a reputation as one of the strongest songwriters in Winnipeg. His latest, Don't Say A Word, only serves to bolster that reputation. In a scene so rich in talent, what sets Petkau apart is his delivery of the material. He doesn't beat you over the head with an overly heavy message, nor serve up sugary empty calories...he has a unique timbre to his voice, its soft yet not too soft, reassurring yet not pleading, emotive yet not melodramatic.
- Stylus (Bruce Tulloch)

"Review of Don't Say A Word"

"Petkau -first name Mike- strikes the balance between hair trigger rage and earnest romanticism on his sophomore effort Don't Say A Word, as he copes with a suffocating world of soft smiles, bitter truths and "long walks home." Petkau, who sings with a detached cynicism that lends a faintly sinister edge to the proceedings, wears his disillusionment like a badge of honour. And his strident, emotional tug of war rock songs are all the better for it. Liberally sprinkled with wiry synths, the 12-track set is brash, bracing and occasionally melancholy to the point of hopelessness (check out the woeful duet "Winter Waits", beautifully fleshed out by vocalist Meagan Peasgood). Don't Say a Word sounds like the kind of record Bob Mould has been trying to make since Copper Blue.
- Ottawa XPress (Steve Baylin)

"Live Review"

"There's a bear in the bar . . . with legitimate authority, Mike Petkau is a genuine songwriter with a powerful sound."
- The Uniter (Jo Snyder)

"Review of Don't Say A Word"

"STYLE: Pop-rock songcraft that balances art, heart and smarts."
"SUBSTANCE: It's one thing to make a disc that sounds exceptional. It's quite another to make a disc that is exceptional. As a veteran recording engineer and producer, Mike Petkau certainly has no problem achieving the former. His solid second release Don't Say a Word confirms he can pull off the latter too. These dozen cuts of sharp singer-songwriter pop-rock are amply and artfully decorated with fat-free arrangements and ear-catching sonic manipulations -- but the knob-twiddling never overshadows the bittersweet melodies and earnest emotions at the heart of the matter. Meanwhile, Petkau's gruff, unvarnished vocals and chunky guitars give the whole affair an earthy, folky richness that adds even more power to his musical arsenal. So take Mike's advice -- shut up and listen."
"STANDOUTS: The smoky, rising tension of I Claim These Streets gets the disc off on the right foot. The off-kilter rocker Patch Me In makes a fine centrepiece. And the icy classical strains of Winter Waits send you off in high style."
- Winnipeg Sun

"Review of Parapet"

Winnipeg's Mike Petkau's worthy debut CD Parapet blends vintage prairie folk with subtle experimentation, not unlike the Fembots. The brain-dodging Dry, Bent Up starts out a sinister hush then soars into a chorus reminiscent of Psychadelic Furs' Love My Way.

- Vancouver Sun (Nancy Luthier)


"Don't Say A Word" (2005)
"Parapet" (2002)


Feeling a bit camera shy


NOTE: Petkau has recently relocated to Montreal.

Petkau is standing next in line to wave Winnipeg's flag as a hotbed for literate and crafty DIY songwriters. This hard-touring songsmith is blurring the lines between bitter and sweet, balls-out indie rock and heartfelt laments.

Poetry is poison.

"Don't Say A Word" finds our boy championing a quick and cutting anthem only to turn it on its head with a morose soundscape. His broad shoulders matched only by his voice, Petkau is cutting a direct line to your heart.

The feelings are getting fuzzy.

How many broken relationships fall between the lines of a conversation that no one wants to have? How many times are we betrayed by another's lack of confidence, by our city's spinelessness, by our lover's indifference? Like images, the true meaning of words is ultimately found in the negative-space. In what wasn't said.

Don't Say A Word.

Don't Say A Word was released in summer 2005 on Head In The Sand Records. Themes of silence, regret, and the inconsistency of human interaction dot a landscape filled by gritty, jangling guitars and electronic manipulations. The songs are focused and poetic descriptions of the people and places around Petkau, alternating between driving indie-rock and hushed intimacy. But don't be put off by any apparent bitterness. This album is surprisingly (even disarmingly) romantic -- in a "getting-the-silent-treatment" kind of way.

Petkau's critically acclaimed debut EP, Parapet, features performances by Greg MacPherson, Mimi Orr, Vava Kolinski (Toronto's Evil Twins), Ryan Yurich (Sudbury's Nickelbender), and Joanne Lawton (London's Sirens) among others. A diverse album of acoustic impressionism, folksy soundscapes and driving rock-n-roll romance, Parapet announced a creative new voice from a creative city.

Mike primarily tours solo, though band shows happen sporadically. Dave Quanbury plays bass, Steve Martens plays drums, Graham Epp and Jesse Warkentin add all the extra keyboards and guitars, El Chico plays loops.

While all this hubbub goes on, Mike doubles as a small-fry record-label owner, recording engineer and burgeoning first-call producer.