‘The Oranges’ Star Alia Shawkat Curates a List of Songs to Stew By

Alia Shawkat may be best known as Maeby Fünke from the cult TV show Arrested Development, but the California native has been transitioning to the big screen with roles in Drew Barrymore’s Whip It and Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress. This month, Shawkat inches even closer to the center of the action with two starring roles. One is as a sex addict opposite Anne Heche in the biting comedy, That’s What She Said. In The Oranges, out October 5, she plays Vanessa Walling, a moody New Jersey suburbanite whose father is seduced by her best friend, played with Lolita-like charm by Leighton Meester. This is, obviously, not easy for Vanessa to process, and here Shawkat channels her character to share some of her favorite songs about jealousy, gossip, and being blindsided by love.

“Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me” by Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday is one of my favorite singers, and this song has her usual sadness to it. It is full of regret, melancholy, and beauty. The narrator is telling her lover not to believe anything he hears about her until she says it to him herself, though she’s not denying the rumors, either. It’s a beautiful song, and I think she’s singing it with a smile.
Operative Lyric: “True, I’ve been seen with someone new / but does that mean that I’m untrue? / When we’re apart, the words In my heart / reveal how I feel about you.”

“Mr. Chatterbox” by Bob Marley and The Wailers
This is another song about people talking shit. Mr. Chatterbox is the guy who goes around town telling people things about you. There’s a lyric in it that goes, “Always to receive but never to give.” He’s always putting people down, but he’s going to get what’s coming to him, too.
Operative Lyric: “You cheek, cheek, cheek, and tongue, tongue, tongue / a-go let you down / And a-when them let you down / we a-go batter you around, hey.”

“How Do I Know” by Here We Go Magic
This is from the Brooklyn-based band’s newest album, A Different Ship, which I love. In this song, the singer, Luke Temple, sings about his uncertainty whether he is really in love. He loves the small things his girl does, like how she smells when she gets out of the shower, but he still has doubts. It’s something everyone can relate to. Sometimes you’re so close to something, you question whether it’s real or not.
Operative Lyric: “How do I know if I love you? / When all these things come and go? / You can’t stand them together In some neat little row / So how do I know, how do I know, how do I know?”

“You Know More Than I Know” by John Cale
This song, from his 1974 album, Fear, is incredibly haunting. It’s like Cale’s not responsible for himself. He feels as if there is only so much he can do for himself without help. There’s a romance to it, too, because he seems to need someone to take charge of things, and when you’re looking for that, it’s great to actually find someone who knows you more than you know yourself.
Operative Lyric: “Instead, we read the morning news / in bed, what endlessness ahead / And there’s no more to be said / You know more than I know.”

“Don’t Give It Away” by Syl Johnson
Johnson’s a really awesome ’70s kind of funk/soul guy with a huge collection of songs. On this one, he’s saying don’t give it away to somebody who hurts you—don’t show them that you’re weak. It’s really about making sure no one sees that you’re vulnerable.
Operative Lyric: “If you know somebody you wanna sock it to / Let me tell you, honey, what I want you to do / Don’t gIve it away, baby.”

“But She’s My Buddy’s Chick” by The Nat King Cole Trio
In The Oranges, Hugh Laurie plays my dad and sleeps with my former best friend— the daughter of his best friend, played by Oliver Platt. They know it’s wrong, but they can’t help the way they feel. Of course, it tears the two families apart. It reminds me a bit of this song. Of course, Nat King Cole knows better than to pursue his attraction.
Operative Lyric: “Startedonce to move right in / Changed my mind but quick / She could send me, yes she could / But she’s my buddy’s chick.”

“Jilted John” by Red Sauce
This is an old British punk song that’s super fun, and I fell in love with it when I first heard it. The singer is singing about this girl who broke his heart—she ran off with some douchebag one day—and obviously he’s not dealing with it well. In his British, punk way, he lets out all of those feelings and frustrations in the span of just a few minutes.
Operative Lyric: “Oh she’s a slag and he’s a creep / She’s a tart, he’s very cheap / She’s a slut, he thinks he’s tough / She is a bitch, he is a puff.”

“Typical Girls” by The Slits
The Slits were in their late teens, early twenties when they recorded this song, and I think it’s pretty great that they were in the moment—they weren’t a group of older women remembering the past. It’s very honest about how girls can be annoying. When you’re a teenage girl, you hate other girls more than you ever will for the rest of your life.
Operative Lyric: “Who invented the typical girl? / Who’s bringing out the new improved model? / And there’s another marketing ploy / Typical girl gets the typical boy.”

“Tryouts for the Human Race” by Sparks
This is such an epic song, and one of my all-time favorites. It’s about how we’re all trying to be the best humans we can be, but every day is like a struggle, an audition for our own lives. We’re not all going to make it through, but we’ve got to keep trying.
Operative Lyric: “We’re the future and the past, we’re the only way you’re gonna last / We’re just pawns In a funny game / Tiny actors In the oldest play.”

“Right By Me” by The Magic
This song is from my friend’s band, The Magic, based in Toronto. I don’t even think this one is on iTunes yet! The song is about unconditional love. He’s sitting around, making dinner, waiting for his lady to come home, and he’s thinking about her and how much he just loves the spirit she has about her. All he needs from her is to be an honest person and true to him.
Operative Lyric: “I don’t care what you do as long as it’s right by me.” 

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It’s Not So “Hard To Be Close” With Here We Go Magic

Since A Different Ship came out on Secretly Canadian in May, Brooklyn’s own Here We Go Magic have toured with Andrew Bird, shared a stage with Florence & the Machine, lapped an impressive array of European and Australian stages, run the festival gauntlet, and shrunk in size over the span of a single season. As they gear up for tonight’s Brooklyn Bowl show that’ll kick off their latest run of tour dates, drummer Peter Hale takes a breather in between practices to wax poetic on new beginnings, collaborative efforts, and the contents of the Here We Go Magic on-the-road survival kit.  

Here We Go Magic has gone through plenty of changes—lineups and otherwise—since you came out with your self-titled debut in 2009. What are the most dramatic changes you’ve noticed between the Here We Go Magic of then and now?
There’s so much that’s different about it. We’re always different at any moment in our growth, and we’re always going to be that way. I think all of us, spearheaded by [lead singer Luke Temple], generally, want to keep going back to the drawing board, so every effort is going to reflect that. The main difference is that we worked with a producer for the first time, and the way that we were able to do that was by touring a lot. We were playing a lot of shows that Nigel Godrich came to see. We wound up becoming friends with him through that, and he ended up producing the record. Very literally, spending a lot of time on the road and playing festivals was what exposed us to him, and because he produced the record, A Different Ship feels different and is differently inspired record than the last one.

Are there any standout moments or songs on A Different Ship that you’re particularly proud of?
Every time I have a new favorite. I think that first side start to finish has a really great arc to it. That run of “Hard to be Close,” “Make Up Your Mind,” “Alone But Moving,” and “Over the Ocean;” those are just bangers for my buck and they reflect where I come from. “Make Up Your Mind” has that dense guitar stuff over a straight-ahead rhythm that coalesces in a way that we hadn’t tried before. “Over the Ocean,” then, provides a complete departure from that stuff; I think that’s my favorite song on the whole record, actually. It’s really mellow and down-tempo, almost a little funky in a weird way, and I think that’s an apex of musicianship for us on some level. That one’s a real winner for me.

You’re about to head off on an epic, international jaunt. Your touring schedule looks exhausting. How do you keep it together on the road?
I think having breaks is important. I don’t think anyone can go more than a month straight without taking at least a week off apart and to rest. When you’re on the road, you just try to conserve your energy physically and emotionally for the show you’re playing every night. I think when we’re good about keeping in mind that that’s why we’re out on the road in the first place, to play these shows, our morale stays a little better and we deal with each other better. As long as you have that bright side at the end of the day when you play a show and you know that it’s all going to be okay when you get onstage, then you’ll be fine, because that’s the regenerative thing. Playing a show can be exhausting, but it can be regenerative.

What are you looking forward to the most about this particular tour? Any cities you’re hitting for the first time?
Yeah! It’s funny; the majority of the U.S. cities are ones we haven’t played, or have only played once. The routing is really interesting. There are three shows in Florida, which is really unheard of. You never hear of small-budget rock music playing Florida, you know? (Laughs) It’s sort of a coup. There are a lot of dates in the South, and I think as far as Europe is concerned, we actually wound up having to cancel several dates this August. I’m looking forward to making up some of those and getting back to where we left off.

Why did you have to cut those European dates?
We shrank in size by one member, so we had to deal with that schedule a little differently. We didn’t want to scrap together a replacement and then go bounding through the rest of the summer. We decided to come back and rework the show so that we could put our best foot forward in the fall.

What’s the most memorable moment from your last year of touring?
To be honest, the last four months has been the most jam-packed stretch we’ve ever done. That’s surreal. This run was pretty boring as far as that’s concerned, because it was nonstop for four months—normally there’s some sort of adventure, but there wasn’t time to get into trouble or whatever. I wish I had a juicier anecdote! (Laughs) In a lot of ways it was the best tour we’ve ever done, because it was the most well attended tour we’ve ever done in the States. We sold out places for the first time, and we had a lot of people come out who had been there before and hadn’t seen us live. In general, it was a better feeling than in the past. It really wore us out at the same time. It wasn’t the height of adventure that we can sometimes be inspired to have.

What would be in your tour survival kit?
Twice as many shirts as pants, twice as many underwear as shirts, and Wellies.

Wellies?!
Rubber boots for English festivals. They’re essential.

Way to pull a Kate Moss, man.
They look ridiculous, but anybody who wears them is much happier.

Here We Go Magic Picked Up A Hitchhiker And It Was John Waters

So, uh, this is easily the best headline we’ve seen since “Porpoises rescue Dick van Dyke.” Although the story of Luke Temple’s merry Brooklyn bliss-out band picking up a camp film legend doesn’t quite have the same ring as the star of Mary Poppins being rescued by marine creatures, it did make for an interesting photo op, courtesy of bassist Jen Turner.

Waters has been a reported hitchhiking enthusiast, and Here We Go guitarist Michael Bloch told Pitchfork the fascinating tale:

“There’s a hydro-fracking boom in western Pennsylvania. You can’t get a motel room. We had to drive ‘til 4 a.m., and finally found a Days Inn in eastern Ohio. Getting back on the highway this morning, there was a man at the side of the on-ramp with a sign that read ‘to the end of Rte 70. Jen [Turner, bassist] wanted to pick him up, but we drove past him. As we passed by, our sound guy said. ‘John Waters.’ Luke said, ‘Yep, definitely John Waters.’ We got off at the next exit and circled back. He was still there. We pulled up, opened the door and asked where he was coming from. ‘Baltimore,’ he said. And we said ‘Get in, sir.’”

The band also offered a few tweets from the experience:

·      Just picked up John Waters hitchhiking in the middle of Ohio.. No joke. Waters in the van.

·      @stevekeros steve it is absolutely 100% pinky sworn true. He even carries a mixtape to listen to!

·      Gotta keep them eyes open. People are everywhere.

·      What an utter gentleman, as natural and observant of people as one might imagine. A total joy, full of stories. Thanks JW, be safe out there

·      A bit of an odd day today.. But not all that much more odd than many days, really.

 

We just want to know what was on that mixtape.