Petracovich
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Petracovich

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"Up & Coming - Portland Mercury"

Portland Mercury 7/29/09

Local production company Potlatch's three-night First Fest kicks off tonight. Familiar names like Carcrashlander and Swim Swam Swum headline on the first night, but don't overlook the marvelous piano pop of Santa Rosa, California's Petracovich. Led by the sparkling songwriting and voice of Jessica Peters, Crepusculo (which was recorded in Portland) is absolutely wonderful, each song a delicate delight. Peters infuses every song with both power and pulsating beauty; she was pregnant while she recorded Crepusculo, and the expectant joy is evident in every note. Tragically, her son Otto died eight days after he was born last August. Peters' loss is undeniable, but the record, finally released after a period of grieving, remains an uplifting testament to Otto's short life. The First Fest is a dirt-cheap $5 per day, or you can splurge and pay $10 for a three-day wristband. NED LANNAMANN
- Portland Mercury


"Petracovich: Crepusculo - LA Music Bog"

LA Music Blog – Crepusculo September 3, 2009
After watching Jessica Peters, front-woman and writer for Petracovich, perform during her CD release show last month at Hotel Café, I had no choice but to get my hands on a copy of the group’s latest album, Crepusculo. A single night of Peters’ folk poems sung over piano just wasn’t going to cut it. This was music that needed to be available to me 24/7 and, I doubted Peters would be interested in being my on-call musician. Those of you who read the show review will remember that she has a baby on the way. No baby, and I’m sure I could just send her a pager and it’d be all good. Darn babies.
Anywho, after multiple listens I still haven’t had enough of Peters’ latest effort. From just the one listen at the show I was able to sing along with the opener “Heaven Help the Day,” and sing along I did. Tracks that sounded amazing live take on a whole new dimension on the album. The horns and harmonies on the recorded version of “Sleep It Off/Lie Down” made me fall in love for a second time with a song that already had me hooked, and Peters’ ability to keep her voice strong while at a volume barely above a whisper adds a childlike element to the record. Fans of Eisley will think there’s a fourth sister the DuPrees have kept hidden all these years. That “San Rafael” was inspired by an experience Peters would have while stuck in traffic is interesting since the song has such drive behind it. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the mountain referenced in the song is Mount Tamalpais just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Peters somehow finds time between writing amazing songs and performing them live (oh yeah, and the baby thing) to keep a tour diary and blog to fans about song meanings and life happenings. Come to think of it, she’s practically a 24/7 musician already.
- LA Music Blog


"Petracovich - Crepuscolo"

Wildly’s World
Petracovich - Crepuscolo
2009, Jessica Peters

Petracovich is a San Francisco band that is both the figurative and literal projection of Jessica Peters Malmberg's muse, which can run the gamut from ethereal yet trippy quasi-dance tunes to Americana/folk story songs. Peters is an eclectic and engaging performer who writes without filters; the full range of thoughts and emotions are on display whenever Peters stands in front of a microphone. Petracovich's third CD, Crepuscolo, finds the band continuing to evolve toward a Pop/Folk sound that began to show on Petracovich's 2nd album, We Are Wyoming.

Crepuscolo opens with Heaven Help The Day, a sweet sounding Folk/Pop tune with serious issues buried deep in the song. The narrator doesn't know her father and wanders the world always wondering if her Dad is out there somewhere. Emotional revenge is the order of the day in a fuzzy piano tune that is reminiscent of Ben Folds. Peters delivers a soft and sweet vocal performance on Mockingbird that is full of a texture and grace not often found in the popular realm. Sleep It Off/Lie Down finds Petracovich sounding like a cross between The Be Good Tanyas and Lisa Loeb; the song is well-written and pleasant side-trip along the way. Syracuse Next Six Exits is all about finding peace wherever you might be, even the longest short stretch of the New York State Thruway there is. The melody and arrangement on this song are exquisite.


Big Heart is a plaintive song of devotion built on a lanky arrangement that's just starting to get comfortable in its own skin. The dynamics make the song here, turning a lush green into a verdant field on which Peters can play. Dark Woods is a highly charged but brief instrumental that is built not so much as a whole but a conglomeration of musical pieces that is jarring and lovely at the same time. You Are This Perfect is an enthralling composition written to Peters' then-unborn baby. The song is a bittersweet tribute now as that child survived only eight days, but the love of a mother for her unborn child has never been transferred into song more perfectly. This is one of those Wow moments that happens from time to time in music and makes the album worth checking out all on its own. Make sure you also spend some time with Miramar, Last Day Of February and the live recording of We Must Have Been Birds.

Petracovich exudes a sense of reality and honesty that is daring, even surprising. Spinning golden threads of melody and quirky yet contemplative lyrics into an alchemists' dream of what Pop music should be; Petracovich delights song after song. Crepuscolo is one of those albums that doesn't bowl you over, yet you don't want to take it out of your CD player or playlist for days or weeks on end. Jessica Peters Malmberg is enthralling as a vocalist and storyteller. This disc is a must-have.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
- Wildy's World


"Petracovich: Crepusculo - Aiding and Abetting"

A&A September 2009 Reviews

Petracovich: Crepusculo

Another outing from Petracovich, and the third one is even better than the first two. Jessica Peters Malmberg writes songs in something approximating a folk style, and then she paints around the edges with the latest electronic sounds.

It's a formula that has worked for years, but I'm really knocked out this time. The songs are more complex even as they've become more approachable. The electronics have been scaled back , and there's a bit more of an emphasis on acoustic instruments, but that's not the whole story.

In short, some folks do get better with age. I still love the first two Petracovich albums, but this one is stronger in every way. In particular, the sequencing is impressive. This album rises and falls and then builds to a climax. It's not a concept album, but it is an album as opposed to a collection of songs.

Simply wonderful. I've been a fan for a while, but the overwhelming quality here overwhelmed me. Quite a disc.
- Aiding and Abetting


"Petracovich- Crepusculo - Delusions of Adequacy Magazine"

The latest album from Petracovich, Crepusculo, has a certain sense of transition and tragedy imbued. Lead singer Jessica Peters-Malmberg recorded the album during her pregnancy. After her son was born and passed away shortly after the album was shelved and brought back to life a year later, along with Jessica’s enduring passion to sing and play the music she loved. The title literally means “twilight” in Spanish, which means the time when the change from day to night happens. Sure there are changes in moods between some songs, but the album is about more than that. It’s hard not to feel the changes going on in Malmberg’s life that informed the album and the powerful folk-pop epic that emerges from the love and care that she put into this project.

The album starts on a whimsical note with “Heaven Help The Day”, a song that sounds like it could be played at an old time western saloon. The piano plays a jolly and bouncing melody, while the drums and guitars carry the attitude of the west. Malmberg brings it back to earth with her lyrics about a long lost father, and her sweet voice is an instrument all its own. “Mockingbird” follows with an example of how Petracovich brilliantly mixes folk with sometimes electronic sound-scapes. She carries this tradition throughout with “I’ll Return As Waterbird” where the banjo’s presence lingers and never overpowers, and Malmberg’s vocal grace washes over beautifully. The fast and fun “Sleep It Off/Lie Down” is a welcome shift after the melancholy break, until the ballad “Syracuse Next Six Exits” returns with the aire of a cello. Listen to this song with headphones: pure bliss.

“San Rafael” is a good song for the middle of the album. It has a perfect mix of equal parts whimsy and melancholy. “Big Heart” features some nice dynamic changes and though the song never seems to go anywhere, it doesn’t really have to because its just right where it is. “You Are This Perfect” really makes a grand entrance and leaves just as eloquently. This is the song that will bring a tear to most eyes, as it is a poignant tribute to Peters-Malmberg’s then unborn child. As the other ballads are perfectly handled, this one is no different, and the subject matter is that much more fitting. “Miramar” is an easy sing along track, while “The Boy Who Was Caught” is another strong piano centric yet driving pop song elevated by diverse sonic textures.

It’s impossible not to recommend this album. The lyrics are encumbered with a sense of honesty and wit coupled with Petracovich’s ability to meld eloquent sound-scapes and folk sensibilities. Peters-Malmberg has the voice of an angel, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t just describe a perfect package. Crepusculo just might be the closest thing thus far this year. - Delusions of Adequacy Magazine


"4 to Watch For - PASTE"

"4 to Watch For" - Interview

Petracovich:
Nurturing Music

Hometown: San Francisco
Members: Jessica Peters and a revolving cast
Fun Fact: Peters' late parakeet, Clarence was often inadvertently recorded in her home studio." I put a little reverb on him, and he sounded pretty good," she says.
Why She's Worth Watching: Petracovich's music is a perfect balance between rhythmic beats, atmospherics backdrops, striking images and angelic vocals.The sound, which has caught the ear of influential radio programmers, is simultaneously worldly and otherworldly.
For Fans Of: Aimee Mann, Iron & Whine, The Innocence Mission

Midway through my interview with Petracovich mastermind Jessica Peters, she confides that it's her first interview with a women. Spurred by this realization, we end up discussing motherhood, inspiration and the importance of authentic experience in the course of analyzing her new CD, We Are Wyoming.

As a 29-year-old female and life-long musician, Peters has determined that "it's really important for women and mothers to be creating [because] it's a perspective that needs to be heard." But now that she and her husband want children, she's worried that she'll be shunned from the industry. At the same time, songwriting is her way of coping with this fear. When she's not working through her worry, her songwriting process starts with journaling, which she admits is obsessive and sometimes poetic by accident: "It's just a matter of being aware of my surroundings and always writing [them] down."

She tells me how to journal the Petracovich way, describing the image of a man walking through a field in Wyoming or jotting down a couple's conversation while eaves dropping on a San Francisco city bus. To Peters, these images and sounds are authentic, and her desire to create something like them is palpable.

For the 30 minutes I know her, Jessica Peters is a down-to-earth nurturer, generous and clever. When I ask where she wants to be in 10 years, she says I want to be playing music as much as possible - with her family-to-be. "I have this vision of having an RV and going along with another couple who plays music. We would all take care of each other's kids and tour... I think it's going to happen."
-Emily Beard



- Paste Magazine


"Pitchfork - Petracovich Review"


Pitchfork Media
(Rating: 7.0)

Lazy music critics-- the kind routinely given the brush-off by this shamelessly overachieving publication-- often rely on half-realized juxtapositions and convoluted, name-dropping analogies that circumvent the brainwork required to actually say anything useful. But sometimes, comparisons are so bull's-eye-accurate they can't be avoided. So I apologize in advance, Ryan; the rest of you go ahead, call me lazy: Petracovich sounds like Aimee Mann fronting Sparklehorse with Beth Orton calling in plays from the sidelines. Of course, just because the dots are so easily connected doesn't mean Blue Cotton Skin is a simple piece of work. Petracovich mastermind Jessica Peters produces a hypnotic dreamtime soundtrack, all misty insinuations and shimmering mirages, a surprisingly enduring album of muffled bedroom folktronica wrapped in the silken sheen of Peters' subdued songbird voice.

Blue Cotton Skin is one of those remarkable debuts that, even as it pulls at so many stylistic threads, capably establishes a unique, cohesive vision. There's an array of ingredients here that in less assured hands might unravel the consistently crystalline, dreamy mood, but Peters maintains the mystery. For instance, the Portishead dub noir of "Nighttime" and the Julee Cruise minimalism of "Fall from Trees" are the dark yin to the sunny yang of "Birds in Flight", with its anthemic guitar, handclaps, sweeping strings, and sugary girl-pop background vocals. The album's two instrumentals are mildly dissonant, experimental pieces: "Coyote on the Moon" rides an underwater calliope hum, while "Rosebud" plays with reversed reverb. Meanwhile, the stunning, sun-drenched "Driving Home" showcases Peters' sharp songwriting skills, its slow-unfolding and sensual, druggy buzz evoking a female take on "Summertime Rolls". Here, Peters' cooing vocals, though understated and at times even whispery, are self-assured and strong, unleashing emotion through intonation rather than volume.

Like the low-key lullabies of Iron & Wine, Blue Cotton Skin might first settle into deceivingly shallow territory, but close listening reveals rich production details and unusual song structures. "Footsteps", a patient, fuzzy revelation, offers a musical storyline that develops over a repeated piano melody, a programmed drum track, and droning guitar, closer to Michael Brook than Sam Beam. Consisting of only thumb piano, kettledrums and Peters' phase-shifted vocals, "Water House" spooks like Tom Waits, while "Company" astral-travels with spacy effects and somber piano. Peters and co-producer Tad Wagner, who also adds electric guitar and bass, introduce subtle electronic nuances and studio tweaks that give these songs a deep, alluring luster.

Clearly, Peters has a broad creative reach, exemplified by the album's overall haunting, stark beauty. But the fact that Petracovich only delivers 30 minutes of music is unsettling in the end-- it seems odd that the record's so short and its ending so sudden. Like a dream, Blue Cotton Skin entices the listener to a hidden island floating in the ether, but doesn't last long enough to allow him to dwell there. -Jonathan Zwickel, May 11th, 2004 - Pitchfork Media


"CMJ We Are Wyoming Review"


CMJ New Music Monthly (article 1 2)

We Are Wyoming

The beauty of Petracovich's sophomore effort is its careless competence. Trading in both the hypnotic rhythms of trip-hop and Beatles-like swirls of songcraft, the record never sounds too studied or particularly mediocre (remarkable, given the group's love of repetition). Headed by deft indie pop auteur Jessica Peters, Petracovich instead construct serenely carried dreams that melt jazzy flair into what might otherwise be a mash of lap-pop nouveau and empty singer-songwriter musings. Looser and more thoughtful than 2004 debut Blue Cotton Skin, Wyoming is the sound of Petracovich growing bold.
- CMJ


"Babysue Review"

Babysue

We Are Wyoming

A couple of years ago we reviewed an intoxicating debut album (Blue Cotton Skin) by Petracovich, whose real name is Jessica Peters (the name was taken from her grandfather). The album was incredible, particularly considering the fact that it was self-released. Jessica and her musical partner Tad Wagner have returned with We Are Wyoming. Cut from the same fabric as Blue Cotton Skin, Wyoming is another soothing and incredible album that features Peters' remarkable voice. Although still virtually unknown, this young lady is easily one of the best vocalists of the twenty-first century. She has a voice that is so smooth and effective that it rivals well-known artists like Allison Kraus. The songs feature absorbing melodies that are bathed in intricately crafted arrangements. Every once in a while an unknown artist comes that totally blows us away. Petracovich started out on a high note...and just keeps getting better. This mind-blowing album features fourteen killer cuts including "Clair De Lune," "Telephone," "What If I Came To Get You?", "Paper Cup," "Dearly Departed," and "We Are Wyoming." Beautiful stuff. Highly recommended. (Scale 1- 6. Rating: 6++)
- Babysue.com


"All About Jessica Peters - Petracovich Carries Us into the Ether"


ALL ABOUT JESSICA PETERS
Petracovich Carries Us Into the Ether

by Julianne Shepherd Petracovich

One of my favorite movies, a contemporary Japanese film called All About Lily Chou-Chou, hinges its plot around the concept of "Ether." In the film, "Ether" is meant to describe a boundary-free space, like the internet--and more specifically, a heavenly, figurative place, where the music of Lily Chou-Chou transports the film's characters away from the psychological and physical danger of their everyday lives. Cinematically, the Ether is depicted by a green, lush field, where puffy clouds lope over the velvet leaves of grass.

This is the same place the music of Jessica Peters, aka Petracovich, seeks to transport the listener, and for the most part, she gets us there. In ambient, electronic pop music, where silence and repetition are often mistaken for space and beauty, there's a fine line between reaching the summit of serenity and invoking the profound and negative desire to take a nap--especially when the singer's voice has the qualities of a whisper.

But on her debut record, Blue Cotton Skin (released on her own Red Buttons Records), Peters pads her songwriting with spacious synth melodies, capricious beats, and acoustic guitar. Peters' career as a laptop programmer/synth player supplanted her stint as a folk artist, so she's a savvy songwriter. Her music is structured, but also incredibly atmospheric due to delayed keyboards or well-placed harmonies.

While a couple songs sound too close to Bjork's Vespertine for comfort, the majority of the music on Blue Cotton Skin is well orchestrated, if not unique. Daintiness isn't employed as a tool here as much as with some of Peters' contemporaries (Via Tania, Mazzy Star, etc.). At no point will you feel like you should offer Peters' wanton soul some bread and water for her pitiful delicacy (or, like, check if she's been hitting the Percoset). Instead, Peters comes off as authentic and honest, letting her voice be as strong or meaty or woozy as it wants to be, while the electronics add the ambience and the keyboards play out like a music box. It's like having a flying dream, or lying out in a field of green grass, all up in the ether.
- Portland Mercury


Discography

2009 Crepusculo - LP -
"San Rafael", "Heaven Help the Day" on AAA stations.

2004 Blue Cotton Skin - LP
- nighttime - college radio airplay nationally
- Bird's in flight - college radio airplay
2005 We Are Wyoming - LP
- summer trees - college radio airplay
- what if I came to get you - college radio

2008 Winter Songs - Christmas EP

Photos

Bio

Petracovich is Jessica Peters with an old-world version of her family name. Based in Santa Rosa, CA, she has released 3 albums of folktronica/folk pop on her record label, Redbuttons, and her tunes have been praised by Pitchfork, CMJ, Magnet and been placed in the major motion picture the Fog and the FX TV series Over There. In the Fall of 09 she performed live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic while 7 months pregnant, after touring the Western States in an unprecedented heat wave.

Her great-grandfather came to the US from Russia at the turn of the century, and one of the only things Peters knows of Abraham Petracovich is that he loved to listen to the New York Opera from the radio in the living room. Out of respect for the music, he would always wear his best suit.

Many years later, his 9 year old great-granddaughter would be at the piano, practicing Chopin and Debussy, which evolved into long, blissful hours on a living-room floor, creating sounds and beats, twisting knobs, tinkering and writing.

Petracovich recently released her 3rd album, Crepusculo, in Fall 2009. Recorded at Type Foundry in Portland, OR with John Askew (Dodos), her new sound fills the room with the live waves of piano, banjo, bells and harmonium. With charged shakers and drums and the groundedness of a great back-porch tune, Petracovich steps into an anthemic realm of boldness and honesty with comparisons to Aimee Mann, Elliot Smith and Emily Haines.

Crepusculo (Cray-poo-sku-low) means twilight in Spanish, the time between night and day when everything shifts to a glowing quiet. Recorded in February of 2008, Peters was pregnant with her first child, Otto Charles, and his tender energy is woven through the album. Life changed very suddenly as he was born and lived a short eight days. As she learned to love and grieve his sweet life she found her feet again after a year and took to the road to promote the album live, pregnant with number two, in Washington, Oregon and California.

The live show includes drummer Max Diez of Audio Outsend, adding a momentum and dynamic to these tunes with skill on a standard kit and various shakers and tambourines, and guitarist Tad Wagner. Jessica sings and plays the keys, banjo, bells and percussion.

Petracovich's debut album, "blue cotton skin", was released in 2004. Its trip-hop lullabies were played on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, as well as 200 other college stations. Tunes were placed in the movie the Fog and FX's TV show Over There. Peters and her husband packed up the van and toured the country, Peters solo with keyboards, laptop and microphone.

Sophomore album We Are Wyoming was released fall of 2005, This album maintained the dreamy, head-in-the-clouds atmosphere of bcs, while discovering lovely roots in a slow alt. country/rock swing. Peters and her husband toured 45 cities nationally to promote this release and garnered great reviews, including a spot on the Boston Globe’s top 10 list of 2005. Critics said, “a perfect balance between rhythmic beats, atmospherics backdrops, striking images and angelic vocals.” (Paste Magazine – 4 to Watch for Feb 2006).