We did this last year and we’re doing it again. As long as there are bars and as long as there are jukeboxes, we’re doing this. Any opportunity to write about great music and include others in highlighting what they think is great music worth taking.
This is the first half of Volume 2 of the BYT Dream Jukebox. 25 CDs (yes, this is a CD jukebox that holds 100 CDs, 1 album per slot, slot numbers running 00-99, not a 45 jukebox which looks amazing but is extremely limiting nor it is an Internet jukebox because see above) picked by Brandon Wetherbee, 25 CDs picked by 25 people chosen by Brandon Wetherbee. This is the dream jukebox for a particular type of bar.
Just like the original edition of the Dream Jukebox, the bar this jukebox lives and thrives in serves the neighborhood. It does not have televisions. It has one arcade game and one pinball machine. Half the bar staff smokes cigarettes. It opens at 5 p.m. Capacity is 100. It has lots of tables. It has a handful of quality beers on tap. It’s a basic, quality neighborhood bar. Given those notes, here’s what 26 people, a mixture of musicians, comics, writers, co-workers and people I like to drink with, would have on their dream jukebox.
My most listened to album of 2015 kicks off the 2016 edition of the Dream Jukebox. A 13-song concept album about professional wrestling, songwriter John Darnielle helped me omit the guilty from my guilty pleasures. The record ranges from short and sweet to moderately longer and melancholic while always painting a sympathetic portrait of a disrespected performer in a shameful sport.
The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle pick
When we interviewed Darnielle in 2015 it was to talk about his excellent book, Wolf in White Van. We managed to talk about music. Darnielle, an eclectic consumer, chose Cheer-Accident for the Dream Jukebox. It might get some love from Mountain Goats fans so it makes sense to place it early in the list. Most people will begin at 00 or 99 so if you want it to get played, you need to place it near the ends.
Any Dinosaur Jr. album would be welcome but since this one kicks off with “Feel The Pain” and “Feel The Pain” begins with a champagne bottle opening, it’s on this jukebox.
Why Dinosaur Jr. so early? Because the band was on the soundtrack to Reality Bites and someone that co-starred in Reality Bites has our next album.
Janeane Garofalo pick
In a not at all surprising move, Bentzen Ball alum Janeane Garofalo chose one of the most influential compilations of all time.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3AvEiKB5k4
Somehow Lynn didn’t make it on our first edition. We’re remedying the oversight with a fine single disc best of. It’s got “Rated “X”,” “The Pill,” “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” and 22 more excellent songs. If you don’t like Loretta Lynn, you don’t deserve to be in a bar.
Lynn and our next pick should be obvious.
Etgar Keret pick
“Well I think I would go for the Johnny Cash cover version [of “Hurt”]. It offers some kind of range because it’s the cover album so it’s not one artist and “Hurt” is one of my favorite songs ever, the Johnny Cash version. I like his version much better than the original one. For example, you know that he has this cover for “One” by U2? When you hear the U2 version, you really can imagine this very vain man, young man without t-shirt, fighting with his girlfriend in the kitchen, breaking dishes, thinking he’s very cool, you know? And I never liked this song. But when you hear Johnny Cash sing it you feel like this old guy who has a younger girlfriend and she’s the one breaking things in the kitchen, and we hear the same words but, kind of like, we’ve been around and we’re stuck here together, let’s try to make the most of it. I really think that there is something about the reading of songs that is not necessarily original or deep but just the fact that you know it’s kind of like a car that drives so many miles, and been on so many detours that you know it takes every song and kind of contextualizes it and gives it a new angle that I kind of think that this is what cover versions are all about.”
Summery, dreamy pop with an 80s college rock feel is great on wintery, snowy nights. Singer and guitarist Nicole Yun has comforting and welcoming vocals. New listeners will either embrace it or let it dissolve into the background, which is great for bars.
Eternal Summers’ Nicole Yun pick
“That album has so many amazing elements, I think the thing about Stereolab is you can put it on and it’s chill but at the same time it’s energizing, so if I’m having a meal with a friend, it makes me want to hang out but also have a conversation and connect, so I feel like that would get the crowd going.”
I missed the boat on The Ugly Organ. I didn’t fully appreciate it until it’s anniversary reissue. Happy Hollow was the first record from the Omaha act that I really liked upon release. 10 years after its release, it holds up really, really well. There’s no “Art Is Hard” but that’s OK. It’s a solid effort and “Dorthy at Forty” is for the adults that grew out of their art scene.
Thanks to Ian Douglas Terry I was able to record an episode of my talk show in Omaha and Cursive’s Ted Stevens was the musical guest. Ian has good taste in music so he gets the next decision.
Ian Douglas Terry’s pick
“Picking this for two very important reasons. The first, Fela Kuti was the founder of Afrobeat and a political bad-ass who revolutionized music/life in Africa and was just an all around uniquely amazing human being. Second reason, “Gentleman” is my favorite song to drink to. This song (and album) was (and still is) a mainstay at my favorite bar in the world (O’Leaver’s in Omaha, Nebraska) and any time my friend Mach would bartend he would play this. The first two minutes are just sax, the singing doesn’t even kick in until eight minutes in…it is the perfect “hanging out at a cool bar with your friends while also acknowledging one of the most important figures in the world’s legacy” song.”
The first and thus far only time I drank in Seattle was after a wedding. Near the venue was an 80s themed pinball bar. They were playing a tape of Best of Sugar Hill Records. It was fantastic and “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” has been in heavy rotation since.
How does Sugar Hill Records and The Police connect? Puff Daddy’s No Way Out, obviously.
National Symphony Orchestra’s Jennifer Mondie pick
“The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” is back from my formative years and it’s just a really good song.
It has all the longing and hope and desire that you always want to bring to music. It’s human. John Adams would tell you the same thing. There’s a place for repetition.”
Bad Bad Hats are one of my favorite new bands and front person Kerry Alexander is a very large reason why. This is one of three people we’re highlighting from Minneapolis. That’s an accident.
Bad Bad Hats Kerry Alexander’s pick
“I went on a walk this morning…and Tavares, I don’t know how you pronounce it, Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel came on my shuffle which I have that song because it’s on the Charlie’s Angels soundtrack and I was thinking about it and that’s a pretty good soundtrack; it’s got “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” it’s got “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel,” it has “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child and more.
We featured a David Bowie greatest hits record on the first Dream Jukebox. We’re putting Lodger here because while there are a few great singles on it, it’s the most overlooked part of the Berlin Trilogy. R.I.P., Bowie.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gQmz3Wpc0c
What sounds like the afterlife? Enya.
Andrew Bucket pick
“Many toss Enya into a cell full of new-age hacks, rightly arrested for their crimes of blandness. Enya is fearsome and scary, and also profoundly beautiful, like the ocean.
Watermark is the second album by Enya, but her first true effort. The album took an incredible amount of time to record; some songs have hundreds upon hundreds of vocal tracks, a technique that has prevented the Irish sorceress from performing her music live. It moves from boisterous jaunts like “Orinoco Flow,” to songs like “River” that are inspired by the treks of warring Celt tribes. If you meditate to Enya, you’re meditating on less than peaceful ideas.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tdu8EQW-X0
Kylesa falls into the hipster metal category, which is good if you’re the guy that wants to put metal on the jukebox but can’t convince your co-horts that metal belongs on the local bar jukebox.
Also, if anyone from Kylesa or Kylesa’s label is reading this, please send me a new t-shirt. Mine has holes in it but I refuse to throw it out because it’s badass.
Brightest Young Things: What would be on your Dream Jukebox?
Kylesa: Highway to Hell, AC/DC.
Kylesa: I don’t know, that album just seems like a good bar rock album.
BYT: It is.
Kylesa: It’s also probably because I’ve just heard it in bars a lot.
Numero Group puts out my favorite records. We mentioned this in 2015. We stand by it. The record diggers comb through crates to compile obscure and overlooked collections. I put this record on whenever 8+ people come to my house. One always asks, “Who is this?” And I happily respond with, “Kids!” And they’re weirded out.
We’ve come to the weird records part of jukebox.
Judah Friedlander pick
“I’m gonna do something a little different and I’m gonna say Meco. They did a disco album in the 70s, that was all instrumental covers of different theme songs. Like they did the Star Wars theme song but a disco version. It’s fucking amazing. I would do that. It’s so ridiculous, but always puts me in a great mood.”
I do not speak French. I do not know what Bécaud is singing in “Nathalie” but I do not care. I love it and if I ever sang karaoke, this would be my jam.
Speaking of singing karaoke, one comic talks about it like an art form: Todd Glass.
Todd Glass pick
“I’m obsessed with JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound. Whenever I’m at a comedy club and they have Spotify or Pandora I’m just like, “Pandora JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound and just play that as people come in.””
One of the best aspects of working at Brightest Young Things is discovering new music from co-workers. I’m much more likely to enjoy something I heard in passing than something pitched by a publicist. I was turned onto Mulatu Astatke by listening to what Cale was playing in the office. It came on via shuffle, I asked what it was and now multiple tracks from New York-Addis-London are on my playlists.
Someone that keeps his ear open is the Kennedy Center’s Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates.
Mason Bates pick
“It’s an album that has incredible energy, incredible funk writing, jukebox friendly. I probably wouldn’t put any of my favorite B-sides from Pink Floyd on that just because a jukebox implies kind of a public moment.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9u8KuHArBw
2015’s best record is an easy choice for the Jukebox and it’s included here because BYT went our next picker to review the Kennedy Center show.
Jose Lopez-Sanchez pick
“Assuming there’s going to be the occasional heartbroken patron at this bar (I mean, it’s a bar), the Dream Jukebox absolutely needs some Clapton to drown sorrows. Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs is the perfect soundtrack to the agony that can only come from unrequited affection; a prototype of a concept album, singularly obsessed with a forbidden relationship, and the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with it.
It’s got everything: Duane Allman’s wailing slide guitar, an unshakeable groove from a world-class rhythm section, and a couple of certified classic songs where Clapton demonstrates why he is revered as one of the finest musicians of all time. The highlight of the album is the title track – a seven minute rock and roll anthem where Clapton makes his thinly veiled case to Patti Boyd.
“Layla” best captures this harrowing feeling, with the opening and repeated guitar motif expressing Clapton’s restlessness. In simple verse-chorus form in the first part of the song, the intertwining guitar work of Clapton and Allman, as well as the jumping bass line provided by Radle and solid drum work by Gordon drives it forward. The keyboard remains in the background in this section, mostly filling out the rhythm section with chord progressions, before segueing into a piano coda pierced by a blistering guitar solo by Allman.
The rest of the album is equally impressive, emotional, and cathartic – all qualities that make it an absolute classic, and a necessary jukebox presence.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4mt62zfL7I
I do not enjoy Eric Clapton. After seeing one of his classic albums on a jukebox, I want to be reminded that there are more basic guitar records. And more than dudes play guitars. And there’s still new music worth hearing. Hospitality, fronted by Amber Papini, will help cleanse the extended solo palette. Their 2014 LP from Merge will do the trick.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTyxM90Lkd4
The next record comes from another BYT contributor and record store clerk. It’s a good one.
Zeke Leeds pick
“To offset a universe of jukeboxes over saturated in self-absorb cock rock — I’m looking at you, Led Zeppelin, (and if you’ve ever knowingly picked out “Kashmir” fuck you for trying to ruin everyone’s night) — could we just have something a bit more jagged. No more with this overproduced junk, I’d prefer something that jingle-jangles. I want something that’ll captivate with a basic chord progression and a tambourine; Love’s self-titled album does exactly that. You’d honestly be hard-pressed to find a record that better balances punkish swagger and earnestness, which is, after all, not a bad state of equilibrium for a barroom to achieve. And yet have you ever heard “My Little Red Book” played on a classic rock radio station? No, no you haven’t, and it’s a shame. A good jukebox should correct for this.
Bonus: it features a quality lonesome bar ballad entitled “Signed D.C.””https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNcXFy8QTC4
Whenever I see the word love I think of “Lovefool” and since last year’s Dream Jukebox already featured the Romeo + Juliet OST, why not include the album that originally featured “Lovefool,” the excellent 1996 LP from Sweden’s most bittersweet rock band?
From an album released in 1996 to a person that was barely alive (because she’s young, not due to any health problems) in 1996, BYT contributor Tam Sackman.
Tam Sackman pick
“There’s something that feels so distinctly “American nostalgia” about jukeboxes (which obviously exist outside of America), just like there’s something that feels so distinctly “American nostalgia” about Houndmouth’s Little Neon Limelight from 2015. Each track sounds like driving through the Las Vegas desert in a beat up van– from obvious hit “Sedona” which violently builds into a maybe-murder to the haunting “For No One”, a story told by a still-shaken veteran. That’s not to say that all of the tracks on this album are dark– “15 Years” is a song about petty crime and doing time that Elvis would have eventually made had he sustained his career/not died and “Say It” is a good old fashioned group-shout. It’s actually the balance between the dark and light that makes this the perfect jukebox choice– nobody has to choose between talking and dancing when it’s very easy to do both.”
Al’s been in my life for nearly a decade. The Chicago country/Americana/rock/whatever banjo player is a force on stage. He’s able to make me cry and dance in the same set. He makes music you want to hear when drinking. He’s literally sung for his supper in bars I’ve frequented. See him every change you get, band, solo or somewhere in between. Circle Round The Signs is his first release for Bloodshot Records so hopefully his name will spread like wildfire. It’ll be available May 13, 2016.
Al Scorch pick
“The timbre of Astral Weeks pairs perfectly with the 3 beer beginning buzz of a long night. Eyes slightly wet, mind wandering to a world of undefined potential and possibilities, gazing into the future through a haze of nostalgia. The album is gentle and vulnerable through out yet burns with an intense energy that propels the drinker onward into a night of gently rounded edges and soft focused future memories. “Madam George” is a 9 minute jukebox banger filled with the dynamic swells of strings and flute that makes Astral Weeks Astral Weeks. There is no better record to transcendentally moan and wail along to as you reach the pinnacle of your inebriation. Also, Richard Davis’s impeccable song leading bass work causes any barroom to erupt into contagious white girl dancing to hilarious effect.”
My sister-in-law is much younger and much cooler than me. She’s a fan of Bleached and I got turned into the group in 2011 thanks to their single “Think of You.” It’s one of the best songs of that year. In April 2016 the 3-piece released Welcome the Worms. It’s much more polished, much louder, tighter effort, less Best Coast and more L7.
Bleached Jennifer Clavin pick
“There is this bar in LA that my friend works at. A lot of times she gives me money to go select like 30 songs off the jukebox to keep it sounding good and to make sure “that guy” doesn’t take over and kill the vibe. That being said I chose Electric Light Orchestra – Mr. Blue Sky The very best of ELO. It’s only twelve songs, which is good for a best of and every song is so damn good. It’s the perfect soundtrack to any night that takes place at a bar. Especially when strange magic comes on, it’s like I fall in love for three minutes with whatever is standing in front of me. And everyone ends up dancing or singing along even if they don’t know who they are listening to.”
Lucero makes drinking music. Singer Ben Nichols sounds permanently hung over and confident. Any of their albums is good on any jukebox located in a bar where sad people drown sorrows. I’m going with 2002’s Tennessee because I saw the band close a shortened-due-to-weather outdoor festival set with an acoustic and in the crowd rendition of “Nights Like These.” I think it was “Nights Like These.” It doesn’t matter. It’s a great song by a great band and will make your alcoholism feel welcome.
It’s also placed here because BYT writer Jeb Gavin wrote a review of a 2012 Lucero show I enjoyed. Which leads us to our next LP.
Jeb Gavin pick
“I have fond memories of a bar DJ who’d close every night with Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” but any dream jukebox would already have Thriller, Off the Wall, and/or Bad in it. Likewise someone’s already included a Hold Steady album and a LCD Soundsystem album for this list. And while I’d love to pull some country into the mix (anything by Waylon Jennings would work, although an acceptable modern alternative would be Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose,) I just need something a little more eclectic and dare I say, bubbly. Early ’00s dance punk perhaps? Eh, I probably listed to the Rapture on the way to the bar anyhow.
No, if it’s a dream jukebox of which we’re conceiving, I need it to have the Clueless soundtrack somewhere in its belly. Any iteration of myself from 1995-2014 would scoff haughtily- “claptrap and poppycock!” I would have proclaimed. Well I’ve been wrong before and I’m sure I’ll be wrong again. Summer of 2014 I spent the Fourth of July in LA for a friend’s wedding, driving around town in a quasi-legally borrowed car with a burned copy of the Clueless soundtrack stuck in the CD player. I wish I could claim Stockholm syndrome here, but give it a listen. Early acoustic Radiohead? Punk Japanese B-sides of the Beastie Boys? Counting Crows AND Luscious Jackson AND a cover of the Bowie-penned Mott the Hoople hit “All the Young Dudes”? In the same way it took me decades to realize Clueless was based on Jane Austen, it took me decades to appreciate this collection of mid ’90s hits, rarities, and deep cuts. You might not always want to hear “Supermodel,” but “Shake Some Action” is a great motivator for daytime drinking; come closing time if you aren’t going to be looking at the man in the mirror- asking if he’ll change his ways, maybe you can take comfort in the Smoking Popes’ “Need You Around.””
Since we’re going in the soundtrack direction we might as well tie the last disc with the next one. Cameron Crowe’s Singles soundtrack is fantastic. The album features Seattle locals Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell and The Screaming Trees (with their best song, “Nearly Lost You”) and not-at-all Seattle artists The Smashing Pumpkins (with their too-good-for-Gish “Drown,” the 8 minute version extended feedback solo edition!) and Paul Westerberg with kinda hit “Dyslexic Heart.”
Westerberg’s fellow Minneapolis resident is our next selection.
Phoebe Robinson pick
“I discovered Prince in high school when my parents allowed me to buy Prince’s The Hits/B-Sides. I was transfixed. I mean, U2 was (and is) my favorite band of all time, but holy hell. What Prince was doing on this compilation was some of the best music I had ever been blessed to hear. Of course, when you are first introduced to someone via a collection, you then go back and gobble up everything that person has created, which is exactly what I did with Prince and the next stop was the Purple Rain soundtrack, which is the sixth album of his career. All the potential of his talent in his earlier work was not only fulfilled, but surpassed on this masterwork. Simply put, this is a perfect album. It. Just. Is. And I dare anyone to argue with me. Are you in the mood to listen to one of the best album openers of all time? Great. Turn on “Let’s Go Crazy.” Want to slow it down a tad with a synth-heavy production that holds up over 30 years later? “Take Me With U” is all you need. Then there’s the matter of “The Beautiful Ones,” a ballad that showcases his falsetto and then crescendos into full-throated and passionate singing over an incredible guitar. Just begging and pleading for his would-be lover to stay. Of course, we all know the greatness of “When Doves Cry,” the funky and slinky sexiness of “Darling Nikki,” the self-fulfilled prophecy of “Baby I’m a Star,” and the pure devotion in the lyrics of “I Would Die 4 U.” Despite how great all these songs are, the album would not resonate with the showstopper and closer: “Purple Rain.” This song is the mic drop. It is the Rock’s People Elbow. It is the pièce de résistance. This song takes the listener to church, moves you to tears, stops you dead in your tracks and make you think, “This is the point of music.” Hell, the whole album is the point of music and on some level, every pop act is spending their career chasing the artistry, the musicality, the perfection, the rawness, the uniqueness that is Prince.”
Guess who hates Prince? This guy! Guess who loves Prince? Nearly everyone I’ve ever encountered! There’s no way I’m going to turn people off of the Purple One but if they’re willing to open their mind, body and soul, they might be open to Kate Bush, especially if she’s placed next to Minnesota’s finest. The second volume of the 1990s greatest hits comp is included solely for its inclusion of “Running up That Hill.”
Our next record comes from BYT writer Marcus Dowling. Only he would chose the next album.
Marcus Dowling pick
“With rap more ubiquitous than ever, putting a Jay-Z album into a jukebox can create the unintended remembrance of a slew of really terrible moments surrounding drunken keg parties or screaming about your non-existent skill as a pimp while in the throes of ribald celebration. Being 2016, it’s probably a good time to put away the Blueprint and step into an appreciation of Hova’s 2006 release Kingdom Come.
By 2006, Jay Z was inching closer to 40, had settled down with Beyonce, was the president of Def Jam Records, and also working on the film soundtrack for American Gangster. I’m almost certain that it’s 2006 being a busy year for Jay that likely saw him not in the club, not chasing skirts and probably doing more paperwork that paper chasing that makes him state that his ninth studio album is the one that he considers his worst. However, insofar as one-listen anthems that are more suited for middle-aged people relaxing with a neat scotch instead of turning up on the dance floor, this may be a surprise classy heater of an album.
Smooth single “Kingdom Come” is about as sweaty as the album gets, Just Blaze’s sampling of “Darkest Light” by Lafayette Afro Rock Band and Johnny Pate’s “Shaft In Africa” being so well-executed that the b-boy breaks might inspire a shuffling of the feet. There’s boom-bap anthem “Oh My God” as well, which on a lyrical level includes the hook “They gunning for me, wanna see me fall / You know my story, I’ve been through it all / Night’s I’ve felt like dying, but I ain’t crying / What didn’t kill me, made me strong as iron,” which if you’re an entrepreneur downing a whiskey sour, invites that semi-sober silent fist-pump of a moment in which hip-hop culture is speaking truth to power about your very own life. “Beach Chair” famously includes Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Yeezus and John Legend contribute to the sumptuous “Do U Wanna Ride,”and Dr. Dre and Chrisette Michelle’s names are in the credits of “Lost One,” so if looking for a trio of super-grown soul-rap vibes, you may find none better in Jay-Z’s canon save “Can’t Knock The Hustle” and “The City is Mine.””
We premiered one of their videos last year and it did quite well, both in terms of traffic and quality. Jukeboxes don’t feature nearly enough mid-tempo electronic based pop music that will make you get up if you want, easy to nod your head to if you want to sit.
Devereaux’s W. Heyward Sims pick
“An album that has stayed with me for about 16 or so years now is Moon Safari by Air. So, I probably would have to pick that album. If, or when, I play this album in a social setting, there’s never been a time where someone hasn’t asked, “OH SHIT. WHAT IS THIS???”
Moon Safari just has a very engaging gathering of tones and moods that draws you in: kind of like a nice warm bath with extra salt in it. Does anyone remember Actibath® tho?
While I’m on that point, though, let me say it oddly runs the gamut but doesn’t go entirely off the map. Well, actually it razes the map. IT’S CALLED “MOON SAFARI.” Have you even seen a map of outer space? IT IS BIG. That’s what she said: “New moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, last quarter, waning crescent.””
What’s the spiritual bridge from French electronic music and American electric blues? Nigerian electronic boogie music! “Fantastic Man” is a highly infectious yet laid back 6 minutes piece of funk. Play this as your first song on the jukebox and by the time you’re done programming, you’ll have made at least one new friend.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXJ17nN3kZ8
The next pick comes from Dream Jukebox DJ participant and yacht rock enthusiast Jason Dick.
Jason Dick pick
“A bar. A bass line. A boogie-woogie beat. A bourbon. A beer. Maybe even a brawl. The man who brings all these things together so well is John Lee Hooker, who took the traditional boogie beat from the piano to the guitar and gave us a sound that, as only he could growl into a mic, feels so good.
This is music you feel. Why else would Jake and Elwood roll back into Chicago to the sounds of “Boom Boom,” with John Lee playing right there on Maxwell Street?
Why else would Jack White play “Boogie Chillin” before his own shows back in the White Stripes days?
For the forlorn, soaking their worries away, there’s hardly a better set of songs to hear than “House Rent Boogie” or “Hobo Blues.” And in the event one would like to hit on someone across the bar? Your anthem could take many forms: “Big Legs, Tight Skirt,” “I Like To See You Walk” and, if rebuffed, “Hard-Headed Woman.”
It’s a compilation album that compiles everything any bar needs.”
This is not Material Issue’s best record, that would be International Pop Overthrow, but the 1994-should-have-been-huge record has “Kim the Waitress,” one of the best Cheap Trick or Big Star songs not written by Cheap Trick or Big Star. Since I heard it for the first time and most often in the bar most formative in my life, it connects Hooker via Chicago and our next pick. It’s difficult to not associate this song with drinking with friends and strangers in a comfortable environment.
Maybe no one in D.C. is better at providing people with a good drinks and a comfortable environment than out next picker.
Derek Brown pick
When we asked Brown about the music that he wants to hear in a bar, he told us about what influenced him as a kid.
My favorite cover of the last decade. I only know about this song because of our next decider.
Kota Gerson pick
“I’ve bonded with a number of otherwise strangers on the sole statement of “You like Harvey Danger too?” so put this on in a bar and you’re bound to make at least one friend. It’s hard not to like Harvey Danger. Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? is a solid debut album that’s easy to digest. The songs are lyrically straightforward but if you actively listen, you’re hooked. At the very least, people will get down to “Flagpole Sitta” and listen to the rest of the album as background music. The secret track after “Radio Silence” will make things a little weird but that’s probably a good thing.”
The former Keep Shelly In Athens singer branched out with last year’s 8 song EP entitled Free. It has an ethereal feel, great for day and early evening drinking. Since our hypothetical bar opens at 5 p.m., you’ll want to program this at the start of the night.
Sarah P. pick
“That’s the album I was listening to as a 16 year old on my train ride from the suburbs to the city center. That album made me feel badass and sneak into the industrial club I loved at the time. And just to let you know, for a teen that went to a Greek, French Catholic School with nuns – that’s revolution. The iconic tunes of Bauhaus are revisited by some really cool bands of the dark scene (some of them I discovered because of that album). Getting back to that dream bar with the Dream Jukebox, the cool thing about tribute albums is that they serve such occasions, like when you’re too busy sipping your beer. There are a variety of voices, but again, it’s not a compilation – there is a concept behind it. It’s the kind of album that you don’t Shazam. Seriously, put your phone back in your pocket. Instead of trying to find out the wifi password, you’d better get off your bar stool and start a lonely, awkward dance that’s involving you, staring at your shoes. The Passion of Covers would be the album in my Dream Jukebox that I’d always pick – and trust me, it wouldn’t be just me. I bet it would fast become the favorite of most of the bar regulars.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qioWbtFVBr4
This piece originally ran April 6, 2016.