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?)

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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7 Responses to Of Soundtracks and Pittsburgh Musicians, and Pittsburgh Musicians and Soundtracks

  1. David G says:

    I think we should declare a moratorium on comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel (I did it too). I’m just recovering from my Decemberists hatred Pitchfork’s review for Castaways and Cutouts engendered (via Christina playing me Colin Meloy’s covers of Sam Cook of all things).

    I like the “In Heaven” cover until it goes to the metal gurgle singing at the end. Maybe a little too literal ironic? I do like “Tribute”: I’m a sucker for doo-whop.

  2. David G says:

    Also, The Pixies covered “In Heaven” on their Pixies at the BBC, which does the same growling (but a little better for my taste, but after all, they’re the goddamn Pixies):

  3. Argh says:

    I hate when people from elsewhere talk negatively about Oil City. Have you been there? Do you know how beautiful it is? Please realize that every place is valuable – it’s all about perspective!

  4. Trent W says:

    I hate it when people from Oil City talk as if everyone from elsewhere should have visited every little dot on the map similar to, and including, Oil City.

    With that said, I (the original author) have, myself, been there, and I owe all of our readership a clarification:

    There’s actually a good bit to do there and a good many things in which to find inspiration.

    For example, you can sit around with Argh and contemplate how beautiful the place is–and, in fact, how beautiful any place can be if only you sit around and think about it long enough. I’m not quite sure what the second thing to do is. However, the lesson, dear readers, is that everything has value, if only you value it enough. And that (perspective) is absolute.

    With that said, my perspective has a distinct, personal preference for vibrant culture and social activity. Moreover, when writing about a place, I find these to be more qualifiable, and therefore more relatable, descriptive characteristics than any one local’s impression could ever provide.

    And so I ask, did you actually find it strange, Argh, that someone would characterize Oil City as I did? And did this response provide the sort of meaningless antagonism that you had hoped for when responding to a months-old blog post that was barely negative in the first place?

    • Christopher T says:

      Haha. Jerk City sucks.

      (There’s actually two Oil Cities in PA, one in Cambria County and another in Venango County. They both suck.)

    • David G says:

      Hilarious. I propose that Noise Narcs holds a music festival in Oil City to benefit their one trick residents.

  5. Trent W says:

    Dear readers, it seems that, once again, I owe you some clarification. You see, I was previously unaware that there were two locations in Pennsylvania that claimed the name Oil City. To be clear, I have been, all along, referring to Venango County’s Oil City, where they’ve been “making crude refined since 1860.”

    I’ve never been Cambria County’s Oil City, where they’ve been “fucking with your Garmin since the advent of GPS,” and am, therefore, ill-equipped to comment on it. But, I hear they built a bridge over Bens Creek. You should check it out, Argh–I bet it’s both beautiful and valuable.

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