Author Archives: Trent W

Hot Tub Rock Show: Trent W

This week, Noise Narcs answers the age-old question: What five bands would you travel back in time to see in their prime? To see other responses, jump in the hot tub.

5.  The White Stripes
Two years ago, I saw The Raconteurs live at the New American Music Union festival. The also-rans at that festival were Spoon, The Roots, Bob Dylan, and The Black Keys.  Surprisingly, the band known down under as The Saboteurs put on, by far, the best show of the weekend, largely on the strength of Mr. Jack White’s contribution.  For me, it was reminiscent of seeing Method Man performing with Wu-Tang:  on a stage populated by perfectly capable and charismatic musicians, White drew all attention to himself.  During a song in which his contribution was minimal, he took great pains to climb a massive speaker tower at the side of the stage.  He also requested that the audience throw joints onstage and jumped in front of other band members while they were singing to emphatically grab his crotch.

No, wait, those were all things Method Man did.

Mr. White’s enticements were far more subtle, possibly even unintentional.  For the most part, he seemed like he really wanted to function as just one part of a regular old rock band.  He was just as happy to step back into the shadows and play keys on one song as he was to be front-and-center singing lead on the next.  (Actually, he wasn’t even set up in the center; Brendan Benson was.)  Problem was, he performed with such passion and exuded such enigmatic star power that no one in the audience could help but keep one eye on Jack at all times.  Am I gushing?  I guess I am, but it’s only because that show reminded me what the term “rock star” originally meant.  I mean, it was obvious dude was really made for this purpose.

So maybe my interest in the seeing The White Stripes can be boiled down to simply an interest in seeing Jack White.  And, of course, I’ve already seen him once and I can certainly see him again.  Why then, you ask, would I waste a time machine trip just for the addition of Meg’s sloppy drumming?  Because I like The White Stripes music far more than that of Jack White’s other projects to date.  (And maybe something about the focused energy of a duo.)  I think a White Stripes show would probably be the best context in which to see him.  It’s that simple.


The White Stripes, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (Live, Under Black Pool Lights)”

4.  The Headhunters

I fully expect that someone will include in their Hot Tub list one of the great jazz artists from the bop or post-bop eras: possibly one of the classic Miles lineups, or Coltrane, or maybe even Monk or Mingus.  And those names were also tempting for me to include.  However, if we’re talking about the sheer visceral entertainment value of a live show, nothing in jazz tops the groundbreaking funk-laden fusion of The Headhunters with Herbie Hancock.

Or without him.  While Hancock was instrumental in bringing together the musicians and providing direction for what would become The Headhunters, any of the early lineups will do for me.  It was specifically the linear interplay of bassist Paul Jackson and drummer Mike Clark (or Harvey Mason, as on the first record) that made The Headhunters sound unlike anything that came before it, and continues make me launch into unprompted monologues on the elusive concept of “pocket.” Adding to the heat that must’ve been coming off that road as they paved it were the hints of early Afro-futurism in the band’s dress and overall concept.  So, while I still might be able to catch some permutation of the group doing a lukewarm impression of itself at a festival for guys with graying ponytails, I’d gladly drop one of my time machine tokens to see them like this:


Herbie Hancock and the Headunters, “Cameleon (Live, Soundstage, San Francisco, 1975)”

See the rest of Trent’s picks after the jump…

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"Yeah, go on and run tell your li'l buoyfreen…"

I hereby submit to MinuteMusic Cee-Lo Green’s forthcoming single, “Fuck You.”

It seems the entire internet started bumping this today.  And surely the radio will soon follow, just as soon as they can figure out how to deal with the lyrics.  However, I think this record will get most of its spins as this fall’s ubiquitous club banger.  (Hey Ya much?)  Indeed, whatever pop music conjurer was behind the production managed to combine classic soul tropes just so, ruthlessly tickling our pleasure centers and triggering our replay instincts (and rendering those troublesome lyrics even more inessential).

Posted in Minutemusic | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Of Soundtracks and Pittsburgh Musicians, and Pittsburgh Musicians and Soundtracks

As the overly-long title might suggest (if it weren’t so confusing), this post is really two things. Firstly, it functions as a minor plug for a minor film in which I played a minor role this past spring. Born of a challenge posed amongst filmmakers on Twitter to make a feature-length movie in just two weeks, Blanc de Blanc is Pittsburgh’s entry into #2wkfilm, churned out by my friend Lucas McNelly—whose previous film, Gravida, finished a narrow second (to a short starring The Office‘s Rainn Wilson) in the inaugural Now! Film Festival, presented by MySpace. It is also the thing that caused me—hurried as the shooting schedule was—to leave a visiting David Goldfarb alone in my apartment to fend (nap) for himself on a Saturday afternoon, after a hearty breakfast at the Obamas’ favorite Pittsburgh haunt, Pamela’s.

Anyway, the soundtrack to Blanc de Blanc was supplied by a guy named Jerome Wincek who, I’m told, lives way out in Oil City, PA (look it up) and crafts his songs around such things as the sounds of doors slamming and his young daughter banging on pots and pans. (After all, what else is there to inspire in Oil City?) The track I’ve posted here is, in my opinion, the standout within the context of film, but it also noticeably bucks the theme of primarily-instrumental electronic music built around loops of found and ambient sounds, of which the majority of the soundtrack is comprised. Where most of the music pulls a Mike Doughty1-sort of aesthetic (when there’s lyrics at all) into the worlds of glitch and video game music, this track features a distinct Jeff Magnum influence tugging right back.

Jerome Wincek & the Old Hats, “Awake with the Sun”

Secondly, this post is a bit of a prelude (a “teaser,” the kids now say) to the “Where You’re From” post I’ve been planning for some time that should also end up being Noise Narcs’ first exclusive: a leak of tracks from the upcoming album from my friends in Signal to the Ocean Estate. If you recall, Signal’s debut, Tunes for the Bird of Chittenden, was one of my top ten albums of 2009. When making that album, they secured, via a fingers-crossed email to David Lynch’s personal assistant, approval to include on it (royalty-free) this take on Lynch’s composition “In Heaven” from Eraserhead. (Also, this sort of extends the bizarre parallels between some of Chris’s posts and mine.)

Signal to the Ocean Estate, “In Heaven”

And just for fun, I also decided to share the following track (also from Signal’s debut), which—within the spectrum of political songs—fits nicely between “Back in the USSR” and “Fight for Your Right (To Party!).” Most of you will hate it, but I love it.

Signal to the Ocean Estate, “Tribute to the Capital” (sic?)

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1 The man behind Soul Coughing; not to be confused with “Surgical Mike” Dougherty, the man behind Dramatic Oil Company’s inoperable funkiness.

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"Elvis was a hero to most…"

Never apologize.

At least that’s what notorious kid Robert Evans, retired politician George W. Bush, unconcerned pedestrian Richard Ashcroft, and a whole host of others’ll tell you to do.

But I’m going to open this, my first post to the new site, with an out-and-out apology.  This thing I’m about to show you has recently gone for a bit of a ride across the internet, and I’m sorry if it’s not-at-all new to you.  Within certain circles it seems to have been blogged about, linked to, and generally social-media’d into its second (or third?) distinct life as a piece of notable pop culture capital.  But exactly how widespread it’s been, I’m not entirely sure.

I first came across this on Reddit, but it didn’t seem to receive an inordinate amount of attention there.  A few days later, by chance (or not), I saw it linked to somewhere else.  Then, over the winter holidays, I talked to an old friend from high school who now lives in Seattle about how this song-and-video partly inspired a modern dance piece she helped to choreograph and then performed with some company and a percussion ensemble and ohmygod were we drunk but it all sounded cool and made this thing seem even more relevant and worthy of sharing even though I didn’t yet know that this site would soon exist as a forum for that sharing.

Also, this song was supposedly pretty fucking big in Italy in its original heyday.  (It was in at least two TV specials, which have been edited together for this video, after the jump.)

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