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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
We Are Wyoming
Red Buttons Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

October 27, 2005
A steady rain seems to be falling outside of wherever it is Jessica Peters has taken shelter. It's the end of the song "What If I Came To Get You?" off her latest work as Petracovich - the downy multi-layered folktronica quilt We Are Wyoming - and in it, she's saying goodbye to someone. Gently, in that soft cooing voice of hers, Peters sings, "I trust you'll find your way to where you're meant to be/where there's a little grace in peoples' faces." And presumably that person walks out the door into the rain and disappears, perhaps forever.

At its heart, We Are Wyoming is about departures and faith: faith in the goodness of people; faith in divine providence; faith that everything is going to turn out okay, that whatever road you're on isn't a dead end, that there is someplace out there where you'll fit in and find happiness. I love that sentiment. Peters' delicately constructed blend of organic and electronic instrumentation, natural found sounds and traditional and modern arrangements is a perfect fit for it.

Full of chirping birds, the noises of bustling city streets and train whistles, We Are Wyoming is a slow-core record that feels alive and warm instead of wintry. Always soft, Peters' voice has an ethereal quality that could charm snakes. On "Summer Trees," Peters, backed by jellied electric keyboards and muffled electronic beats, does her best Sarah McLachlan imitation, winding together airy strands of echoing vocals that rise like smoke. The tumbling piano of "Paper Cups" recalls the more excessively maudlin moments of McLachlan's Surfacing, but Peters disperses the gloom with synthesizer that rings like chimes and floats. Unlike McLachlan, Peters practices restraint, and when she strips away all artifice and leaves it bare - like in the bittersweet "Telephone" - it aches with longing, as does her piano.

There's a little Beth Orton in Peters. We Are Wyoming throws everything into the kitchen sink in the same way Orton's Daybreaker did. The result is a collection of melancholy ballads made out of whatever Peters and her partner, producer Tad Wagner, had lying around the studio. There's hypnotic synthesizers, brushed drums, lithe acoustic guitar, sleigh bells and a Hollywood sound technician's library of sounds. Her compositions wander like nomads, traveling on magic carpets of rich, resonant piano, like in "The Ultrasound," but then Peters will throw in some fun waltz-like tempos, like in "Others" and "What If I Came To Get You" that bring to mind Elliott Smith, only not so morose.

Interspersed with fragments of Debussy's "Clair De Lune," Chopin's "Fantasy Improptu" and music-box instrumental interludes like "Sparrows On Eighth Street," We Are Wyoming is seamlessly patched together, yet every song has its own identity. It has the intimacy that bedroom recording styles produce, but it can become as distant as your childhood. There are times when Petracovich lays it on a little thick, especially in the syrupy chorus of "All I Have To Say." At times, you see the sophisticated songcraft of The Spinanes' Rebecca Gates, minus the touches of after-hours jazz. Then, the arrangements fall apart, like in the messy "Dearly Departed."

The spacey atmospheres and ambient textures of We Are Wyoming are simply stunning. Hopeful and heavy and full of childlike wonder, We Are Wyoming wraps around you like a favorite blanket - make that several blankets. All of the layers are laid over each almost perfectly; you can see the thought that went into each composition. And unlike Wyoming, this dreamy state of consciousness that We Are Wyoming puts you in is nothing like the barren, desolate landscapes of the Western plains. Yes there are big-sky expanses of electronica, but it still feels as lush as a garden. It wouldn't hurt, though, if Petracovich spent a little more time weeding it.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad



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