‘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’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. 

BlackBook Tracks #4: There Are No More Original 4th of July Puns

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, sure, but why not carry on the party through the rest of the week? Let’s hear it for a five-day weekend, everyone! With that in mind, here’s a loosely patriotic playlist to pair with your upcoming weekend’s woeful lack of a fireworks display.

Primal Scream – “Country Girl”

Sure, Primal Scream are Scottish, but their take on Americana still sounds pretty good.

The Hold Steady – “Atlantic City” (Bruce Springsteen cover)

The Brooklyn band looks to Jersey in this spirited take on the Boss.

The Black Keys – “Dearest” (Buddy Holly cover)

Dan Auerbach may not sound as charming as Buddy Holly, but the Black Keys’ offering was a highlight of last year’s Rave On covers collection.

The Apache Relay – “State Trooper” (Bruce Springsteen cover)

This Springsteen cover from rising Nashvillians the Apache Relay starts off minimalist and slowly builds, showcasing Michael Ford, Jr.’s earnest vocals.

Yelawolf – “Made In The USA” (ft. Priscilla Renea)

According to my sources, Yelawolf is popular abroad because the Alabama rapper is seen as being really good at representing America. Exhibit A.

These United States – “Let The River In”

The band name alone says it all, but this cut from These United States’ self-titled new album will hold up well while you’re throwing some burgers on the grill tomorrow.

Vampire Weekend – “I’m Going Down” (Bruce Springsteen cover)

Vampire Weekend delivered this mellow rendition of the Springsteen classic on their 2010 live EP.

LCD Soundsystem – “North American Scum”

For those of us who have complicated relationships with being American.

Kid Cudi, Best Coast, and Rostam Batmanglij – “All Summer”

While this isn’t an ode to California, it’s a little more inclusive and will sound great while you’re swimming/barbecuing/bald eagle-watching.


It’s called “USA Boys,” so it must be them

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 Return to a Theater Near You

LCD Soundsystem broke up last year, sending scores of middle-aged music fans / aspiring middle-aged music fans into dire straits over the state of things. (For argument’s sake, let’s define “middle-aged” in music fandom as anyone over the age of 22.) A movie called Shut Up and Play the Hits was filmed concordantly with the band’s last show at Madison Square Garden, showing their final days and playing their career in context. On July 18, you’ll be able to watch the movie at a number of theaters across America for a very special one-night-only engagement, along with a roomful of other sad boys and girls. (It’s a winning idea, except for the fact that July 18 is a Wednesday which means it’ll be a real drag going to work the next morning with that blinding hangover.) 

According to the press release, Time gave a winning endorsement: “We may never dance again.” Sounds like the guys at Time are a bunch of dorks! Sadly, there are a few states without a screening: Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming. I guess that’s a good / terrible way to decide whether or not to move elsewhere. “Are we cool enough to host the LCD Soundsystem movie? Do I really need to be near more than a theater full of people who can tell me whether ‘Yr City’s A Sucker’ was a B-Side or an A-Side?*” Search your heart, go with your gut, etc. Tickets go on sale on June 8. Click here for a full list of cities where the movie is playing.

*Trick question: As any righteous LCD fan would tell you, “Yr City’s A Sucker” was never released as a single (pushes glasses up nose, falls into abyss of smuggery and self-righteousness).

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.

Listen to “DoYaThing,” the Gorillaz + Andre 3000 + James Murphy Collaboration

Even from their self-imposed semi-hiatus, Andre 3000 and James Murphy are the coolest men in their respective genres (rap and post-blog nostagi-lectro, in case you’re wondering). When you add Gorillaz to the mix, you’ve got a shovel-ready Youngs-targeting commercial waiting to happen. That seems to be the motivation behind their collaborative song "DoYaThing," which will be released to promote the upcoming Converse line of Gorillaz-themed shoes. You can wait until tomorrow to download it from the Converse website, or you can listen to a rip at Listen Before You Buy.

I know, I know — it seems a bit calculated, purely created for page hits and blog buzz. At least they all sound excited to be on the song, even if a rhyme like "Ballin’ outrageous like a purebred mare / Converse All-Stars is the only shoe to wear" is a bit more corporate than I would’ve expected from the usually DIY Murphy. (I have been told that is not immediately recognizable as a joke, but rest assured, it is a joke. Thank God!)

The Trailer for LCD Soundsystem’s Documentary Will Make You Feel Fuzzy

A pretty amazing movie trailer is circulating the web today, in anticipation of its premiere at Sundance on January 22. Shut Up and Play The Hits is an intimate look at the days leading up to LCD Soundsystem’s final shows at Madison Square Garden. More specifically, it’s "both a narrative film documenting this once in a lifetime performance, and an intimate portrait of James Murphy as he navigates the lead-up to the show, the day after, and the personal and professional ramifications of his decision." That’s according to the film’s website, anyway.

As the trailer weaves in between ecstatic crowd shots and footage of frontman and founder James Murphy putting on his pajama pants to go outside and walk his dog, Mr. Chuck Klosterman provides us with some food for thought via voiceover: "It’s like there was a record, there was an announcement. There’s a last show. Everyone’s aware that it’s ending. When you start a band, do you imagine how it will end?" 

Those attending Sundance can catch Shut Up and Play The Hits at the dates and venues listed below. The rest of us, until it hits a wider release, can revel in the joy of listening to that sweet, sweet piano swell from "All My Friends" on repeat. 

Sunday, January 22nd, midnight (Egyptian Theatre, Park City)
Monday, January 23rd, 9:45 pm (Broadway Center Cinema, Salt Lake City)
Wednesday, January 25th, 11:30 pm (Prospector Square Theater, Park City)
Friday, January 27th, 10 pm (Redstone Cinema 7, Park City)
Saturday, January 28th, 9:45 pm (Broadway Center Cinema 3, Salt Lake City)

Carry On My Wayward Hipsters: LCD Soundsystem Passes the Torch

With LCD Soundsystem playing their last ever gigs this week in New York, it feels as though a bookend is being slid into place on NYC’s Decade of the Hipster. Fitting that LCD should be winding it all up at Madison Square Garden, anathema to everything indie kids ever pretended to stand for — after all, LCD’s James Murphy made it clear from the get-go what he thought of the swelling Zeitgeist when, in “Losing My Edge,” he sang, “I’m losing my edge to the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered 80’s.”

Perhaps even more appropriate is that while LCD is burning down the house at MSG, one of Murphy’s most treasured progeny, Holy Ghost!, will be playing even further uptown, on West 56th Street, opening for Cut Copy at Terminal 5 this Friday and Saturday nights. The Brooklyn duo, consisting of Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser, signed to Murphy’s DFA label to glowing praise from the boss – a useful form of promotion, to say the least. Their utterly infectious eponymous debut album (out 4/12) is in thrall to nothing particularly trendy. Rather, they manage to flit effortlessly between blatant disco romps (“Say My Name”), exuberant, Motown-ish pop gems (“Jam For Jerry”), cool funk (“Static on the Wire,” “Some Children”) and stern but catchy electro-pop (“Do It Again”).

Perhaps the hippest thing about them is how little they seem to care about how hip they are. Which, of course, reminds us a little of…well, James Murphy. Still, it’s hard to imagine these tunes not tearing up the most precociously cool dancefloors from Greenpoint to Glasgow all summer.

LCD Soundsystem – Losing My Edge by epb21