Boards Of Canada Gunning For ‘Most Buzzed-About Surprise Album Of 2013’

Everyone is coming out of the woodwork this year: Godspeed You Black Emperor, The Knife, and My Bloody Valentine have all reemerged in almost totally unanticipated ways after long hiatuses, and each has delivered a huge, haunting record that reaffirmed what we loved about the band. Now, in an era where “BoC” more likely means Blue Oyster Cult, Scottish electronica duo Boards of Canada are teasing a new release with wildly complicated clues, whipping fans into a frenzied scavenger hunt.

But let us save you the viral-underground PR theatrics: after all, the nerds are on the case. It begins with the appearance of some 12” vinyl singles that surfaced on Record Store Day, which contained odd snippets of what had to be new material. (One of those first clues is now selling on eBay for an asking price of $565.00, so get bidding.) Then there was an Adult Swim bumper spot and a strange, password-protected website that a fan cracked, leading us to this spooky but alluring video.

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Now it’s official: the new album, Tomorrow’s Harvest, is out on June 11 from Warp Records. Will anyone be able to resist, given that so much buzz has built up around it already? Will you need a World War II-era decryption device to even listen to the damn thing? Will the new Daft Punk album this year be delivered via hot air balloon? For the moment, nothing seems impossible. 

Oh, and here’s the tracklist, in case there’s some kind of a clue in there, too:

01. Gemini

02. Reach For The Dead

03. White Cyclosa

04. Jacquard Causeway

05. Telepath

06. Cold Earth

07. Transmisiones Ferox

08. Sick Times

09. Collapse

10. Palace Posy

11. Split Your Infinities

12. Uritual

13. Nothing Is Real

14. Sundown

15. New Seeds

16. Come To Dust

17. Semena Mertvykh

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‘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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The Soft Side of Gabriel Macht, Star of Suits

Nearly every aspect of the legal world is ripe for dramatization, from the demagogue judiciary (Judges Judy, Joe Brown, Alex) to procedural enforcement (any of the acronym shows). But only recently has corporate lawyering become a “thing.” One of the shows to set this precedent is Suits, USA’s legal drama whose second season premieres tomorrow. The series centers around Harvey Specter, the closer at the fictional New York City firm Pearson Harden, who is played with reptilian dexterity by Gabriel Macht. Equal parts American Psycho and Clarence Darrow, Specter is, in the words of the man who plays him, “not the kindest guy, but he’s very direct, honest, and has a strong values system. He’s sensitive but not caring.” Macht, on the other hand, confesses to be “both sensitive and caring.” We asked him to curate a playlist to show the human side of the hardened Harvey. Here’s what brings a tear to the eye of a make-believe lawyer.

“If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen

This song’s very close to me. It’s a romantic reminder for me, like my wedding band. If I lose my way in fulfilling promises or responsibilities or positive communication, then my other half will be there to pick me up and pull me out of it. And the same thing goes for her—I’ll be there for her when certain elements in life tend to be challenging. You wait for me, I’ll wait for you. I’m not a huge Springsteen fan, but I really love this song.


Operative lyric: “We swore we’d travel darlin’ side by side / We’d help each other stay in stride.”

 

“Lengthwise” by Phish


I love the meditative rhythm of this song. I spend so much time away from my family so the lines “when you’re there, I sleep lengthwise / when you’re gone, I sleep diagonal in my bed,” really hit home. I wish to sleep lengthwise all the time. Family is my number one. When they’re not with me, I try to take up the space myself to make believe that they are.

Operative lyric: see above.

“Dance With Me to the End of Love” by Leonard Cohen


It’s a very romantic song. It was inspired by the classical music that was played by prisoners in the death camps during the Holocaust. I found that to be a passionate sort of finale for the ending of life, like that scene at the end of Titanic when the music is playing and the ship is sinking. It says to me: just keep living, keep playing till the end with the utmost integrity and love for life. The song is heartbreaking.

Operative lyric: “Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin / Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in.”

“Don’t You Push Me Down” by Woody Guthrie


It’s the simplest reminder of the dangers of labeling, name-calling, and bullying. I play this for my daughter and tell her this is what we do and this is what we don’t do. I think Harvey would find this song hilarious. He’d say something like, “Are you serious?”


Operative lyric: “You can wear my mommy’s shoes, put on my daddy’s hat / You can even laugh at me, but don’t you push me down.”

“The Gunner’s Dream” by Pink Floyd


The first time I listened to this was back in college. There’s this amazing moment at the end of the first verse when Roger Waters holds that note and it syncs up with the saxophone. It’s so beautiful. Then there’s this whole idea of somebody dying and saying goodbye to their parents—what it would be like at their own funeral. That whole idea of your own dreams and not giving up what you were meant to do and holding onto it.

Operative lyric: “Somewhere old heroes shuffle safely down the street / Where you can speak out loud about your doubts and fears / And what’s more no-one ever disappears.”

“Now I Know”by Jesse Macht


 

This is a song that my brother wrote. It’s another one about following your dreams. The community around you can believe in you, but not be the best at promoting positive inspiration. So you have to soldier on and follow through with what you desire. I think it’s an incredible song.

Operative lyric: “Father forgive me, I’ll give up my dream / Pay back what I owe / And Mamma don’t leave me, I’m not the one you expected / But I guess I messed it all up but now I know.”

“One More Saturday Night” by Grateful Dead


 

This song is a total spiritual celebration of the wonders of the world. Seeing the elements in full glow: the sun, the fire, the mountains. I call it God having a party. What better night to celebrate everything? I went to many Dead shows and whenever there was a show on a Saturday night, they would play this song and it just brought this positive, spiritual, all-oneness vibe.

Operative lyric: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, lord, you’ll know it when it comes / When the rock and roll music meets the risin’ sun.”

“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash


 

That is the greatest rap song ever written. It’s the inspiration for all other rap songs. It depicts the hopelessness of life in poor urban areas, and how people have a hard time escaping, how they prey on each other, and why they turn to crime. I used to listen to it when I was 13, driving from New York City to Westchester to my grandparents’ place. I’d look out the window as we drove through the Bronx and see, in a removed way, what that urban life was like. I grew up in an upper-middle-class family, and this song woke me up to how fortunate I was.

Operative lyric: “Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head / It’s like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.”

‘Tintin’ Star Jamie Bell Gives Us His Ultimate Playlist

Music buff is a little strong. I am a music enthusiast,” explains Jamie Bell, erstwhile Billy Elliot and star of Steven Spielberg’s motion-capture masterwork The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn. But that’s an understatement. When the 25-year-old English actor, who also stars in heist thriller Man on a Ledge, sounds off on a dozen of his favorite songs, he can’t help but show his excitement. “I’m a very eclectic dude, so I thought I’d toss in a bit of new shit with a little bit of old shit.” And he says he’s not a music buff?

AWOLNATION, “Sail” – Fucking amazing song. I would recommend playing this at night, while driving fast with the windows down and the music loud. I’m not saying you should break any laws, but that’s how you’re going to get the most pleasure from this music. It’s a composition with a very heavy grunge bass line. Very sexy. If you’re not in a car, you might want to make love while listening to it.

Glasvegas, “Go Square Go” – This song is anthemic. It builds to an amazing, climactic crescendo. James Allan’s voice is unbelievable and he’s Scottish, so, hello!

Salem, “Sick” –  This song is kind of dark, like music from a psychiatric ward. It’s almost like a demonic voice. The album as a whole is incredible. I just heard the group for the first time this year, only a couple of months ago. There’s another song on the album called “Trap Door” that’s also amazing.

Kasabian, “Fire” – This song has been out for a long time. It’s very hackneyed—you know, it’s on the radio all the time. But it’s still awesome. I’ve had it in my headphones for the last two days. I bicycle to it. The chorus is everything, and the guitar riff is incredible. I really appreciate the group’s first album; I think I bought it when no one had heard of them. This song, specifically, I would say is their magnum opus. We’ll all be listening to it for years.

Frightened Rabbit, “Keep Yourself Warm” – I love this song a lot. My friend played it for me after a long night. The lyrics are so bold. It’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t be said, but lyric is, “It takes more than fucking someone to keep yourself warm.” It’s just a guy saying how he feels.

LCD Soundsystem, “Dance Yourself Clean” – This song is ridiculous. I heard it for the first time at a club in Hell’s Kitchen and I was so into the music, kind of bobbing and weaving, that I was like, “I have to Shazam this right now.” Thank god for Shazam—one of my favorite inventions ever. So I’m in the club and I just hold my phone up to the ceiling, dancing to LCD Soundsystem. When I listen to this song, I’m dancing myself clean, obviously. Kidding! But I’m definitely dancing, and I do a lot of beating out the rhythm on a table or any kind of surface. I’m one of those people.

The Clash, “Straight to Hell” – This song is the sample that MIA used for “Paper Planes.” No one knows that. So even though it’s old, when people listen to this song, they’re like, “Oh my god, dude, I kind of know this, it’s from Slumdog Millionare.” No, motherfucker, this is the Clash and you’re a moron. This song is so much better than the MIA version.

Young Rebel Set, “If I Was” – This is a band most people have never heard of. They’re English and they’re from my hometown, so I really want to champion them. A childhood friend from the northeast of England, who I’m still very close to, said, ‘You have to listen to these guys, they’re local boys and you have to help them out.’ I fell in love with them, so every time I do a radio show in England, I tell the DJ to put them on. It’s kind of like Mumford and Sons meets The Killers. Everyone has to download it on iTunes right now.

Fryars, “The Ides” – I forget about this song all the time. I almost didn’t put it on this list, but I had my iTunes on shuffle and it came on, and it’s like, I fucking love this song, why don’t I play this more? It’s kind of like Talking Heads. Fryars is very gifted musically. If you download this song, you’ll have a love affair with it and you won’t turn it off. It’s not a very New York song, but it reminds me of when I was there.

The XX, “Intro” – Dude. What’s going on? Why is this song only two minutes long? That really pisses me off. You could make it at least a five-minute song. It’s unbelievable. I’ve played it like 50 or 60 times since I downloaded it. I listen to it anytime, but usually I have to be in a bit of a mood, a kind of woe-is-me, self-pitying, unattractive mood.

Q Lazzarus, “Goodbye Horses” – This is another oldie. It might sound familiar because it’s the music that Buffalo Bill dances to in Silence of the Lambs. It’s a very ’80s androgynous kind of song. Silence of the Lambs is one of my favorite films of all time. I don’t put it on and dance like Buffalo Bill or anything, but it’s just a great song. It’s not exactly glam-rock, but I do love late-’70s glam-rock like T. Rex and Bowie. They’re the most attractive males ever to grace the planet. I think what they did for music, sexuality, and androgyny is unbelievable. We need more of that.

Kanye West and Jay -Z, “Why I Love You” – I think Jay-Z is unbelievable. He can do no wrong, but this song is just really great… the chorus will be stuck in your head for days, and if you work in an office, you’ll start whistling it or singing it. Guaranteed, your whole fucking office will be singing it with you. I promise. Give it two days.

Drake Picks His Ten Favorite Remixes

Drake knows a good remix when he hears one. Before the Toronto-born rapper reached stadium status, he made his name on the mixtape circuit, often flowing over other artists’ tracks, most notably “Little Bit,” Lykke Li’s minimalist love ballad. “I like when people change elements of a song,” he says of the art form. “I know that’s the definition of a remix, but a lot of the time, especially in this day and age, people don’t change too much when a remix comes out—same beat, same hook, new verses. I love when a remix is a complete revamp of the song.”

Although he still finds time to lay down a verse or belt out a hook on the occasional remix, the 24-year-old musician and actor has been focusing his energies on completing Take Care, the follow-up to his masterful debut, 2010’s Thank Me Later. Like most of his peers’ sophomore albums, Take Care finds Drake considering his ascent to superstardom, but, he insists, he’ll avoid the standard woe-is-me lamentations. “On my last album, there were these glimpses of me missing my old life and blah, blah, blah,” he says. “But on this one, it’s like, Nah, it’s not going to come back. I never thought I’d be able to penetrate the industry in this way, but all of a sudden I’m a king. At this point, there’s no turning back.”

Drake and The Weeknd’s “Trust Issues (OG Ron C Mashup) .” I’ve heard the Weeknd sing a lot, so I knew he had the voice—that was never in doubt. I just didn’t know how it was going to translate live. I’ll never forget watching from the balcony at his first show. My heart was beating faster than it had at any other show I’ve ever done, even when Jay-Z brought me out. It felt like everyone else in the crowd was just as eager as I was to see what was going to happen. I’ll never forget when those curtains opened. Right away, I knew this kid was the one.

Sade featuring Jay-Z’s “The Moon And The Sky (Noah ‘40’ Shebib Remix).” My producer, 40, took a shot at a song that had a lighter, happier vibe to it. He just took it and made it super-ominous—a real 40 production. It’s incredible that Sade reached out to him to do it. It was probably one of the most exciting moments of my career, even though it had nothing to do with me.

Aaliyah featuring Tank’s “Come Over (Og Ron C’s Chopped Not Slopped Remix).” The original version is one of my favorite songs, but OG Ron C took it and pumped it up. A lot of the time when people chop and screw songs, it can sound just like that, but not OG. I ride to this at least two to three times a week. It’s my nighttime song.

Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry on Their Own (Organized Noise X Dungeon Family Remix).” The Amy Winehouse thing is obviously very sad. But from a musical standpoint, I love the fact that the Dungeon Family brought this crazy, Outkast-like sound to her song. It became this dirty, nasty, raw song, and they made her vocals sit so perfectly in the pocket. A lot of the time, when you produce a beat around a voice, there are parts of the a capella that don’t necessarily match up, but here every part of her voice was made for this beat. I actually wish that someone from Dungeon Family would have sent me that remix so that I could have done a couple of verses and put it on my album. It’s a crazy joint.

One Chance’s “Look at Her (Remix featuring Trey Songz, Lloyd, and Bobby Valentino).” This reminds me of my early days in Atlanta, when I first met Trey Songz. We did a song together [“I Invented Sex”], and he was just poppin’—it was the era of the male R&B heartthrob. I love melodies—this song has one of the best—and it has three R&B artists going at a song the way rappers do. They all try to outdo each other, and I love hearing competition in a song.

SBTRKT featuring Yukimi Nagano’s “Wildfire (Drake Remix).” Sometimes, when I think about the things I get to do, it feels like a combination of getting hit by lightning and cashing in your winning lotto ticket. I’m a big Little Dragon fan [Nagano is the band’s lead singer], and just to be able to get on the track and do my thing was amazing. I didn’t know if they were going to fuck with my verse or not, but they were just like, “Nah, this is perfect, let’s go!” It was great.

Mario’s “Crying Out for Me (Remix featuring Lil Wayne).” Not that I’m the biggest fan of this song, but it’s probably one of my top-three Lil Wayne verses of all time, so that’s why I picked it. Hearing him rap a complete phone conversation between him and a girl, a straight call and answer—I can only imagine the joy he experienced after that verse was laid down. I would go home and have a glass of wine and sit by myself and be like, I really just did that shit. That verse to me is what I strive to do every day.

R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)” and Nas’ “Street Dreams (R. Kelly Remix).” R. Kelly is one of the only people who can make remixes better than their originals. That “Ignition” remix was so bouncy, that shit was just so G. That actually goes for both of these songs, because R. Kelly is the king of the remix. That’s why I put both of these on here. What R. Kelly does is very similar to what the Weeknd is doing. He’ll take a song and add elements to it that make you fall in love with it all over again.

Notorious B.I.G.’s “One More Chance (Remix).” This is what I think about when I think about remixes. It was just an amazing time for hip-hop. Bad Boy Records was a pioneer in the remix game, and this one was something that I listened to heavily.

SWV’s “Anything” (Remix featuring Wu-Tang Clan).” SWV featuring Wu-Tang—this is 40’s. I was like, Pick any remix, and I’m going to tell the interviewer that it’s your favorite. So this is 40’s pick.

Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez Shares His Late-Summer Playlist

The dog days of July were turning into the rabid heat waves of August when Lazaro Hernandez (left), one half of New York–based womenswear and accessories brand Proenza Schouler, began compiling his summer getaway playlist. A week after its completion, the 32-year-old designer flew to a remote cabin on Frank Island, off the coast of Vancouver, which he describes romantically as an oasis of “eagles, whales, and waves.”

His eagerness to escape his studio in the city, where he and his business partner Jack McCollough create their CFDA Award–winning line, was woven into the fabric of his song choices, all of which are worlds apart from the stiletto-stomping anthems that will provide the soundtrack to Proenza Schouler’s Spring 2012 collection this month at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

While Hernandez appreciates the style of, say, punk prophet Patti Smith, he insists there’s no connection between the rock icons he admires and the clothes he makes. “They’re very different mediums,” he says of fashion and music. “It’s not like we’ve been inspired by someone’s specific look or a particular album cover, but we do love dressing the people we admire. Even that, though, is less about the young, ‘cool’ artists, and more about the older, iconic ones like Yoko Ono and Stevie Nicks.” Hernandez does, however, have his finger on the pulse of young, “cool” artists despite not getting to see many concerts. “I’m definitely not hardcore about catching shows,” he says, before a brief pause. “That’s a lie, actually. I see lots of shows—fashion shows.”

The Beach Boys’ “Lonely Sea.” I can’t even think of a summer playlist without including the Beach Boys, one of the all-time greatest bands. Brian Wilson is my hero. I listened to this song as a little kid and I’ve recently fallen back in love with it. I like the melancholic, lonely feel to this one, which is unlike the hyper-happy songs that they’re sometimes associated with.

The Mayfair Set’s “Dark House.” This has been playing around the studio pretty much nonstop. I guess you could say I’m not all that into party music like the stuff Lady Gaga records. I don’t really listen to the radio, and I’m not so up to speed on popular songs. I’ll be like, What’s that song you’re playing, Jack? And he’ll be like, “Really? You don’t know?” Like that new Beyoncé song everyone’s listening to, the one she took from some Jamaican band. [Ed note: “Run the World (Girls)” samples “Pon de Floor” by Major Lazer, whose members Diplo and Switch both have writing credits on Beyoncé’s song.]

Smith Westerns’ “All Die Young.” This is a great new band whose album I play in its entirety around the clock. I do a lot of internet music searches and one thing leads me to another and another, and then to another. I spend a couple nights a week buying music, which I suppose is a bit too much time spent buying music.

Banjo or Freakout’s “Can’t be Mad for Nothing.” This is one of the newer albums we’ve been playing on a loop. My problem is that I get bored of things really quickly—that’s just my personality—so if I listen to the same album all week I’ll need another one the next.

John Maus’ “Believer.” He puts on a sick live show. You should YouTube him. He looks like a normal guy—he’s a professor at the University of Hawaii [at Manoa], or something really weird like that—but then he transforms into a crazy, spastic performer. He runs around on stage shaking, really feeling it. It’s pretty cool.

The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “The Hardest Walk.” I listened to this one when I was, like, 16 years old. I was a pissed-off kid and a bit of a delinquent because back then I didn’t have many responsibilities. This entire JAMC album, Psychocandy, reminds me of a time when I was free. I was a bad kid, but I’ve cleaned myself up a bit.

The Smiths’ “I Won’t Share You.” Morrissey is like a religion among many of my friends. I had a lot of “firsts” while listening to the Smiths, although some things shall remain private. I’ve never actually met Morrissey but I once met Madonna, which was pretty amazing. I ran into her at the Met Ball back in the day. We were both at the bar, and so I turned around and said something really stupid like, Hi, I wanted to say hi to you. She smiled—she was sweet—and then she walked away. I just stood there, like, Amazing.

Atlas Sound’s “Bite Marks.” This is [Deerhunter’s] Bradford Cox’s other band. He’s kind of a musical prodigy and we have mad respect for everything he does. He’s got a pretty cool music blog, too.

Neil Young’s “Out on the Weekend.” This is another escapist track, which is pretty much my vibe these days. Maybe it’s because it’s summer and I want to be anywhere but the city. We have a farm out in Massachusetts where we’ve gone almost every single weekend for a couple of years now. I bring people there all the time to chill and do nothing. This song reminds me of getting away from it all.

Tapper Zukie’s “M.P.L.A.” I’ve been pretty heavy into reggae since I was a kid and Tappa is top dog in my eyes. He informed a lot of newer reggae artists, but he’s this amazing, underground—no, don’t write underground, that’s such a cheesy word—under-the-radar guy who not many people know about. He made real reggae in the ’70s—not like those shitty ’90s pop songs by Shaggy.

Tracklist: Introducing Rosario Dawson’s Protest Playlist

I went to bed last night thinking about this list, and woke up still thinking about it. It was so difficult for me to whittle it down to 10 songs, none of which I wanted to be obvious choices, and I ended up making it even harder by dividing them into different genres and areas of protest. I work with so many different organizations because so many different people have influenced me—once that spark of activism ignites inside you, it’s very difficult to narrow it down to just one cause. I wanted to craft a collection of songs that show how we’re all grappling with our own existential dilemmas, no matter what type of music we listen to, what part of the world we live in, or what language we speak. As people, we have the insatiable need to communicate and figure out what it all means.

Country Joe and the Fish’s “The Fish Cheer & I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag.” (Folk) I grew up listening to this old Vietnam War protest song: “Put down your books and pick up a gun, we’re gonna have a whole lotta fun!” When [Country Joe McDonald] played this song at Woodstock, he told the crowd to sing along with him, and it’s so genius because he starts screaming at everybody, like, “There’s 300,000 of you fuckers out there! How do you expect to stop the war if you don’t start screaming better than that?” He sings, “Come on Wall Street, don’t move slow,” which is so perfect, because he’s telling Wall Street, ironically, that we need to supply the army with the tools of the trade. We’re now in the middle of a recession that’s costing us trillions of dollars, and we’re out fighting a war that we’ve known for years now is based on false pretenses. Yet we’re still there, and we’re still entangled with Iran and Pakistan. It’s never-ending. This is my anti-war song, but done in a very Stephen Colbert-like way.

Tori Amos’ “Me and a Gun.” (Singer-songwriter) This is pretty amazing because Tori Amos is singing about her own rape. It’s about this guy with a gun who pushes her on her belly, and she sings, “It’s kind of funny/ The things you think at times like these/ Like I haven’t seen Barbados/ So I must get out of this.” So many women don’t speak about the violence they’ve endured. It’s not sexy to talk about rape, especially your own. Even after all the years that I’ve been working on the board of V-Day [a campaign to stop violence against women and girls], this song still gives me chills.

Zap Mama’s “Nostalgie Amoureuse.” (R&B) Zap Mama is from Brussels, and she’s amazing. This song is about a homeless man who speaks to her. I love the line, “We are all winners if we unclose our eyes.” Homelessness is not a conversation we have anymore. We can talk about the “housing crisis”—like the houses give a shit—but that’s a very nice and bookish way of talking about families being kicked out onto the street. Remember all the telethons we used to have with Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal? Where are those telethons for the homeless now?

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Hawai’i ’78.” (World) This is on his Facing Future album. He sings about the king and queen who used to rule over Hawaii, and how they would feel about their sacred land being covered by highways. There is still a lot of racial tension between the Samoans, the native Hawaiians, the whites, and other people who have moved there. It has become cliché or jokey to so many people who visit the islands there, but those traditional dances and tattoos are such beautiful expressions of a native culture trying desperately to retain its roots.

Syl Johnson’s “Is it Because I’m Black?” (Soul) This is a beautiful song about race, which is obviously a huge issue in this country. The fact that we still have our own native peoples in segregation is disgusting. They are still on these plots of land that we designated for them hundreds of years ago, and that’s never changed. We never really talk about them as a community. We’re all like, Hey, we’re one world, we’re one mind, we’re all connected, but the reality is that we still have very legal segregation in this country. In this song, Syl Johnson describes all of the things he wants for himself and his life, but can’t achieve, and so he asks, “Is it because of the color of my skin?” After 9/11, Muslims were easy targets, but group prejudice comes in waves. Latinos are now joking, “Ah, it’s our turn!” It happened to the Chinese, it happened to the Japanese, it happened to the Irish, and it happened to the Jews. We have these waves of hate that wash over this country, despite the existence of a symbol like the Statue of Liberty.

Queen Latifah’s “U.N.I.T.Y.” (Rap) Even though it’s a bit obvious, this song really is just that dope, and I love Queen Latifah. The song is about taking back language, which is something The Vagina Monologues addresses in “Reclaiming Cunt.” When that book first came out, you couldn’t even say “vagina” on national television. Even now, just a couple of weeks ago, I was listening to the radio and they were playing the Eminem song, “The Real Slim Shady.” There’s a line in there about the clitoris, but the word “clitoris” was actually blanked out on the radio. I was like, What? I’m sorry, you can’t say “clitoris” on the radio? Are you kidding me?

Fela Kuti’s “Water No Get Enemy.” (Afrobeat) When it wasn’t about sex, Fela’s music was mostly about protest. Given the current discussion about the privatization of water, as well as soaring food prices, this is still a very poignant song—probably more so now than it was back then. It’s also joyous and full of expression. V-Day is very much about injecting art and poetry and acting and singing and dancing—all of that great stuff—into the conversation about violence. Without it, that discussion can get too intense. When that happens, you can only preach to the choir because no one else will listen to you.

Saul Williams’ “Not in Our Name.” (Spoken word) I love when he says, “No more transfusions of blood for oil.” It’s a short, simple song. There are versions with music, but I like it a cappella. The number of different ways we try to reach out to each other, scream our frustrations, and call out for help blows me away. I think Saul Williams captures that rebellious sentiment beautifully and in a really modern way.

Gil Scott-Heron’s “Whitey on the Moon.” (Jazz) This song speaks to our current recession: Why are there more billionaires now than ever before? Why are people making record amounts of money? Why are the people who created this “housing crisis” getting bonuses? And why is my ass on the street right now? I can’t get a job and my kids got kicked out of their school program, and they’re talking about taking away my healthcare. That’s what “Whitey on the Moon” is about. It’s like, “Listen, I’m not just angry in some arbitrary way. These are the facts. A rat bit my black sister and Whitey is on the moon. I’m sorry that those two thoughts are in my head at the same time but that’s just crazy. I’m sitting here looking at my sister getting bit in the face by a rat and I see on the news that some dude is jumping up and down on the moon?”

Los Fabulosos Cadillacs’ “El Matador.” (Ska) This song is about the military dictatorship that controlled Argentina in the ’70s and early ’80s. Many of the song’s lyrics come from a poem by Chilean activist Victor Jara, who was killed in 1973. Los Fabulosos Cadillacs started making music in Buenos Aires in the early ’80s, when Argentina was in the Falklands War with Britain, and a lot of musicians were literally being thrown in jail for playing ska music because it was considered a British genre. How crazy is that? The beauty of music is that it gives voice to disenfranchised people—whether it’s because you’re poor, or because you’re gay, or because you’re homeless, or because you’re anti-war. Real artists are people who make music that provokes you, that moves you, that forces you to get up off your ass and do something. Once you know something you can’t un-know it—it rings in your head, and it’s impossible to ignore. Plus, it’s way better than hearing something on the news and then forgetting about it as soon as the diarrhea commercial comes on.

Tracklist: Aubrey Plaza Rocks the Boat

I’m really bad at picking my favorite anything,” says Aubrey Plaza, the 25- year-old actress who appears on NBC’s primetime gem Parks and Recreation. “I don’t really have a favorite movie or band or color or candy bar or parent. I’m pretty inconsistent in all areas of my life. Maybe that’s why I’m an actor?” Whatever the reason, Plaza should keep at it. In addition to her recurring role on Parks, the banged brunette recently appeared in Judd Apatow’s Funny People and will soon be seen in the Michael Cera vehicle, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. “Oh my God!” she says, “I totally forgot to put the song I was named after on this list! It’s called ‘Aubrey’ and it’s by Bread, this weird ’70s band. It’s actually really depressing when you listen to it. Can we add an eleventh song to this thing? Either way, here are 10 songs that have nothing to do with each other.”

Judy Garland’s “Do It Again.” I have been obsessed with Judy Garland since I was 12. I don’t know why. It’s really weird how I got into her. I had to do this project in seventh grade on decades. My decade was the ’60s, I think, the decade she died. Some people said that she killed herself and some people said that it was an accidental overdose. For some reason, I got all Nancy Drew-obsessed with trying to figure out how she died. Now I know everything about her, in a creepy way. My room was covered with pictures of her.

Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crimson & Clover.” I enjoy love songs about people who hardly know each other. The lyrics are something like, “I don’t hardly know her, but I think I could love her.”

Hap Palmer’s “I Can Put My Clothes On By Myself.” This is from an album that Amy [Poehler, her co-star in Parks and Recreation] and I found while shooting on location at a preschool. We were stealing things, like we usually do, and started listening to all these weird children’s albums. Hap Palmer makes kids songs sound like cool ’70s rock songs. I listen to them while I clean.

Coconut Records’ “I Am Young.” This song is in Funny People. Jason Schwartzman did a lot of the music for the movie [under the name Coconut Records]. That movie kind of changed my life, so I felt like I needed to add a song from it. Before Funny People, I was waiting tables. Literally, the week before I got cast, I was broke and didn’t have a job. I still feel like, any day now, I’ll have to go back to New York and start taking people’s orders again.

The Spring Standards’ “In The Underground.” I grew up with these guys in Delaware and now they are a real fucking band. I don’t know what it is about Delaware, but there are a lot of talented people out there. I think there’s some strange radioactive stuff in the water. You should buy this album. The Beatles’

“I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” I went on a road trip last August, from Chicago to L.A. We stopped at a Starbucks to get pumpkin lattes, and ended up buying all of these Beatles albums. I don’t know why, but it’s more fun to listen to something that you bought at Starbucks. We also listened to this Stephen King book on tape that was read by Anne Heche for nine hours.

Judy Garland’s “The Man That Got Away.” This song is in A Star is Born, one of my favorite movies of all time. I’ve watched everything with Judy in it. I’ve read so many books about her. She’s just one of those famous people who made me want to act.

Big Pun’s “100%.” I’m half Puerto Rican. This song makes me want to be full Puerto Rican.

Ben Folds Five’s “Don’t Change Your Plans.” This reminds me of when I was in Spain on a high school field trip. It was all juniors and seniors, but I went as a freshman. I didn’t have any friends, so ended up getting lost on my own, looking at old castles and listening to Ben Folds’ voice.

Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.” I think I hate this song.

Photo by Mark Mann

Aubrey likes…Peter McManus Cafe (New York)