out of San Francisco, Petracovich is Jessica Peters with an old-world
version of her family name. 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 writing
unrequited-love songs in highschool, and spending her 20’s
in long, blissful hours on a living-room floor, creating sounds and
beats, twisting knobs, tinkering and writing.
Petracovich is currently recording her 3rd album at Type Foundry with
John Askew of Tracker. 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 energy.
The new live show includes drummer Max Diez of Audio Outsend, adding
a momentum and dyanamic to these tunes with skill on a standard kit and
various shakers and tambourines, and cellist Heather Houseman. Jessica
plays the keys, banjo and loops bells and percussion.
Her debut album, blue cotton skin, released on Petracovich’s
Red Buttons Records, took shape when she brought 4 track tapes created
with a nord lead, piano and an old effects rack to Tad Wagner, a recordist/songwriter
she admired for skillful guitar and other-worldly musical instinct. Here
a great studio collaboration began at Buonapasta in Santa Barbara, CA.
After a year of slow discoveries and gentle coaxing the album was released
Early response to blue cotton skin was very positive. Renowned radio
stations like KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic in Santa Monica and KEXP in Seattle
were among the first to put the album into rotation, and great reviews came in.
Said LA Weekly, “ …a space-age love suite slightly like Tangerine
Dream playing with a Lite-Brite in a hidden attic.” Pitchfork calls it “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.” The album went on to chart at
104 in the CMJ 200 and to be reviewed in over 50 publications, and to be placed
in the 2005 film the Fog, and FX’s series Over There. With the
success of the release, Peters and her husband took the van on the open
road for a 20 city national tour in Spring of 2004, spending many nights
in their van in Walmart Parking lots, and on the floors of many kind
strangers who became friends.
The next album We Are Wyoming released by Red Buttons Records
in the fall of 2005, was recorded with Peters traveling from San Rafael,
CA to Santa Barbara, CA for long weekends to work with Wagner. They maintained
the dreamy, head-in-the-clouds atmosphere, 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), “Petracovich … construct
serenely carried dreams that melt jazzy flair” (CMJ), "What If
I Came to Get You is the standout track from the album, switching
from Wurlitzer to tinny piano, which recalls the early work of Neil
Young, with ease, and a chorus to rival the pop majesty of the aforementioned
Mann and also Elliott Smith.” (trebelzine)
The Red Buttons label is named for the baby cow that Peters’s
family had when she was a kid. When Red Buttons could not be found,
her parents told her Red Buttons ran away, but 20 years later she found
out the true facts of life. Red Buttons had been dinner.