Hear James Murphy Cover David Bowie’s Golden Years

After having its New York premiere at NYFF back in the fall, Noah Baumbach’s latest film While We’re Young will head into theaters on March 27. Starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, and Adam Driver, and Amanda Seyfried (with a score by James Murphy), the film centers around a middle-aged husband and wife whose lives spiral into an existential crisis after befriending a free-spirited younger couple. Comparing their own world to that of the spontaneous and youthful pair, their seemingly content lives are brought into question.

Possessing Baumbach’s signature wit and flair for bringing comedy into even the most dramatic of circumstances, the film’s tone is only enhanced by the work of musician James Murphy, who composed the original score for the film. Below you can listen to one of James Murphy’s tracks off the soundtrack, titled “We Used to Dance.” It’s a beautifully composed instrumental number that, with its swirling soundscapes, sends a shiver down your spine and a spark in your heart. And today, you can also hear Murphy cover of David Bowie’s “Golden Years,” for the film. Get excited for the film and enjoy the music below.

Listen to “We Used to Dance” HERE

James Murphy Wants to Make Your Subway Experience More Sonically Pleasurable

When interviewing musicians, one of my favorite questions to ask is always in regard to their favorite sounds outside the conventional realm of music. For composer Nico Muhly, who seems to always be in transit, he told me that his dream large-scale project would be a “big piece of civic music-making”—to redo all the “alert sounds of New York. I would do all the airports, Penn Station, subway stations—I want to do all that shit.” And when it comes to all those sounds we hear so frequently in  everyday life that our conscious mind may not always even be aware of, it seems Muhly isn’t the only one with a passion for such. And recently, we’ve learned that musician James Murphy has been working to re-imagine the sounds of the New York subway stations himself.

“I started noticing that the subway sounds quite brutal,” Murphy says. “There’s a missing opportunity at the turnstile.” That opportunity could be seized as New York prepares to begin a big project to reposition the subway turnstiles to increase efficiency in stations. “Given that all that information is already at the turnstile, why don’t we just make it a nice sound? Just make it pleasant,” Murphy says.

Sounds like a nice idea, right? But New York City officials aren’t really buying it—MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg told the WSJ that the current sounds are grating because of a “natural technical variation and we don’t really care.” Lisberg also pointed out that many people have had similar ideas over the years, and it would require a lot of resources “for an art project.”

And now, WSJ also has a clip of Murphy explaining his ideas further, along with his website petitioning for the project.

‘What Difference Does It Make?’ A Film About Music and Madness

The Red Bull Music Academy got creative people from all over the world thinking deep thoughts last night with the global premiere of What Difference Does It Make?— a film about the drive, desire, and the highs and the lows of making music.  Shot at the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy in New York and produced by Ralf Schmerberg’s Berlin-based artist collective Mindpirates, the film sheds light on the creative process of those who live a life devoted to music—featuring appearances and personal insights from Brian Eno, Lee Scratch Perry, Seth Troxler, James Murphy, Giorgio Moroder and many more.

Taking a peek inside the mind of all these music legends turns out to be an insightful way to think about one’s own contribution to the world. The film is intentionally about making music, but after an hour and a half of close ups and testimonials it becomes a film about life. “What difference does it make?” is a question that we must ask ourselves often, whenever we dedicate time, effort, and creative energy towards anything. We are here to matter, to love what we do, to create. Luckily, as an artist one is allowed make mistakes and start again. The film explores that idea by showing the constant changes and challenges of life in the music world, as people search for the path to creative freedom and lose themselves in their madness.

Since the RBMA is celebrating its 15th anniversary, the film is free and is now available online. Watch it! Moroder is a legend in it, Murphy is miserable as usual, and Brian Eno probably made the most money out of everyone.

James Murphy to Write Original Music for ‘Betrayal’ on Broadway Starring Rachel Weisz & Daniel Craig

Back in April, we expressed our unwavering thrill that genius playwright Harold Pinter’s Betrayal would be heading to Broadway. And not only that, but Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig would be taking on the leading roles in the production, with direction by the iconic Mike Nichols. And as his work is wont to be, Pinter ‘s play is a biting and absurd tale of the painful romantic entanglement caught in the nuances of everyday life. 

Told chronologically in reverse, Betrayal will star Weisz as a woman involved in a serious affair, with Craig as her unassuming husband. So to top it off, as if we weren’t already brimming with excitement, it appears that former LCD Sound System frontman James Murphy will be helming the original music for the play. And oh yes, I can certainly live with that.
 
The show is set to debut in previews on October 1 with an October 27th opening at the Barrymore Theater, but in the meantime, check out the photos below from rehearsals, courtesy of Vulture
 
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S.S. Coachella: Like Regular Coachella Without The Whole Desert Thing

There are a lot of reasons to go to the headliner-heavy Coachella Music and Arts Festival, and also a lot of hindrances to going to Coachella. It’s far away. It’s expensive. You’d maybe have to take time off work. It sells out super fast. It’s in the middle of a rather large desert region. Camping isn’t your bag. Today, Coachella organizers Goldenvoice announced the inaugural voyage of the S.S. Coachella, a cruise ship festival holiday for fans who want to see some Coachella-grade acts without the camping or desert parts. The lineup includes Britpop legends Pulp, a DJ set from James Murphy, Sleigh Bells, Girl Talk, Yeasayer, Killer Mike, El-P, Grimes and Father John Misty. 

The ship capable of carrying about 2,800 fans is the Celebrity Silhouette, which promoters say features a concert venue they describe as a "mini Royal Albert Hall." The cruises, which both leave from Fort Lauderdale, Florida will head to the Bahamas December 16th-19th, 2012 and Jamaica on December 19th 23rd, 2012. Tickets go on sale Saturday and range between the basic package at around $500 to the $9,000 "sky suite." For something of a preview of what cruise-goers can expect, here’s headliners Pulp performing at the Coachella festival earlier this year. 

James Murphy’s House of Good: Purveyor of Danish Candies and Other Delights

If there’s one thing Williamsburg needs, it’s a shop that sells colorful socks, sweets from Denmark, coffee and custom luggage all under one roof. And even if it doesn’t, James Murphy is going to make it happen. Murphy gave the New York Timesmore details about his upcoming Brooklyn shop, the House of Good, which was announced last winter, a shop still very much in progress that will eventually feature luggage designed by the musician, cups of Joe from Blue Bottle and “cheap Chinese sneakers,” among other things.

Murphy told the NYT his other endeavors post-LCD have included learning to scuba dive, studying the art of the perfect coffee in multi-city barista training (Isn’t that something all musicians did upon arriving in New York anyway? Hey-o!) and taking a crack at acting with a supporting role in the Sundance flick The Comedy. Musically, he’s spun DJ sets all over the world and done some studio work, for other artists including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Klaxons as well as solo “little synth songs.”

Those still sorely missing LCD Soundsystem (and aren’t we all, really) can catch Shut Up And Play The Hits,the documentary about the band’s final days produced by MCA’s Oscilloscope Labs, for a one-night-only engagement in select cities on July 18th. New Yorkers: the Landmark Sunshine and 86th Street East shows are sold out but another show has been added at the Clearview Chelsea and a few tickets are left for the show at Brooklyn’s BAM Rose Cinemas. Check this site to find where it’s playing near you. 

The Rapture and Tanlines Team Up to Rock a Summery Night in Brooklyn

Whoever decided that Tanlines and the Rapture should play a show together on the first day of summer is probably a genius. At the House of Vans in Brooklyn, hundreds of people lined up in 90-something degree weather to see two of the borough’s finest exports kick off this year’s series of Vans House Parties.

Seasonally appropriate Tanlines, aka Eric Emm (vocals/guitar) and Jesse Cohen (synths/programming), got the live show portion of the night started after a DJ set from Dave P. The duo’s sun-drenched production translates well live, the percussion sounding heavier than on record.

"We’re Tanlines, and we hope you like this song," said the Converse-wearing Cohen, before diving into "Real Life." He needn’t have been so humble, given the enthusiastic reception. 

"We hope everyone has a great summer," Cohen said, by way of introducing breakout single "All of Me," an extended version of which closed out Tanlines’ set. The Rapture opened their set with the title track from third LP In The Grace Of Your Love, perhaps not the most obvious choice, given their pedigree still lies in their first album, 2003’s Echoes, and "House of Jealous Lovers." While that dance-punk sound pioneered the last decade of indie dance music, the band is in a different place now, and they’re arguably better for it.

The Rapture have had a long time to prove themselves as powerful songwriters, which was on full display as Grace highlight "Never Die Again" segued into "Pieces Of The People We Love" from the 2006 album of the same name. More well known songs in the set, like "Whoo! Alright Yeah… Uh Huh" and "Get Myself Into It" were balanced with deeper cuts like "Killing."

In an article for Jalouse magazine, James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem/DFA Records) and Busy P (Ed Banger Records) discussed the recent ten-year anniversary of "House of Jealous Lovers," calling it the "Blue Monday" of its time. That may have been true musically speaking, but it wasn’t until 2011 and "How Deep Is Your Love" that the Rapture really shattered emotional barriers. Reminiscent of both hymns and "Thong Song," the In The Grace Of Your Love cut was a triumphant and transcendent end to the night. Hallelujah.

LCD Soundsystem Shares Clip From Biopic

On July 18, Shut Up And Play The Hits, a documentary about New York’s beloved electro party band LCD Soundsystem will open for one night only in theaters around the country. (Check out a list of participating cinemas here). 

But if you need a little something to tide you over—something other than listening to the band’s albums on repeat for days at a time—today’s your lucky day. A clip from the film has found its way online, thanks to Pitchfork.tv, and shows the band playing fan favorite “Dance Yrself Clean,” from last year’s album This Is Happening, at Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden. It was, in fact, the band’s final show, which also serves as a linchpin for the (totally awesome, we’ve seen it) movie. 

The release of the film brings up all sorts of burning questions about what LCD frontman and mastermind James Murphy will do with himself now that the group has been dismantled. One possibility: barista.

After the film’s screening at Sundance, Murphy—who spends a lot of time in the film making coffee—told New York Magazine, “"For my birthday, my girlfriend got me a training course with the world champion. That’s what I’m going to do when I get back to London.”  

Murphy also revealed that he was planning to develop his own blend of java, but wouldn’t go into detail.

"I can’t talk about that because I’m still in negotiations," he said. "I love that we’re here and talking about a film, but I’m like, ‘I can’t really talk about the coffee.’”

LCD Soundsystem Documentary Set for Theaters This Summer

Thank Brooklyn for this one. Regarding of what the blogosphere might lead us to believe, Shut Up and Play the Hits, the documentary chronicling LCD Soundsystem’s last days as a band, probably wouldn’t have found much of an audience for a theatrical release (outside of NYC and LA, of course). But thanks to Beastie Boy Adam Yauch’s Oscilloscope Laboratories film company, a happy medium has been reached between a cinematic release and video-on-demand: The movie will be shown at special one-night-only engagements this summer, in theaters that won’t mind if their patrons start dancing in the aisles. The exclusivity will parallel the finality of LCD’s last show, but it’s also just a convenient way to make sure everyone gets their taste.

"Perhaps having grown up in a band for most of my life – a band that formed when I was 16 years old – and having released our first record when I was still in high school, this film addresses so many questions," Yauch said in a press release. "For instance, it can be pretty clear when a band starts, but perhaps less so when it ends, or how it should end. In that sense, it’s brilliant of James to end it in such a definitive way." Poignant, if not a big self-congratulatory, though I suppose if I was in the Beastie Boys I’d bring it up every time I could. No dates have been announced, but keep an eye out.