Part 2, slots 50-99. 48 records, 25 guest writers.
To recap, this is not for any random bar. The bar this jukebox resides is for locals. 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. Conversation is valued over any other type of human interaction.
Once you hear “Teenage Wasteland,” the first track on this 2014 LP, you’re a fan of Wussy. It’s all of the best parts of American rock and roll without the preaching. Think Springsteen without a message or The Hold Steady without the never ending positivity. Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker write the kind of songs that make college kids become literature majors.
Guest Pick: Wussy’s Chuck Cleaver
It’s not surprising Chuck Cleaver loves Neil Young. All good musicians love Neil Young.
It was a huge record for me when I was in high school, from start to finish I just thought it was maybe at the time at least the best record I’d ever heard and its still right up there I can still listen to it and enjoy it just as much as I did back then.
Faces are the band I’ve fallen in love with the most thanks to working in a bar. This must-own compilation may be the best album for any/every bar in English speaking countries. It’s hard-drinking British young men doing American blues better than the Stones ever did. There’s a reason The Stones brought guitarist Ronnie Wood on full time in 1975. Also, Rod Stewart is highly underrated as a frontman. Dude can sing. In key. It’s an amazing voice that’s been forgotten due to 30+ years of soft rock ballads. The 19 songs on this compilation will get people to dance, drink and scream. “Stay With Me,” will get people to dance, drink and scream.
Guest Pick: Emerson Dameron
Without meeting Emerson, I never work in a bar with Faces on the jukebox. He’s the impetus for many, many years wasted/spent/enjoyed listening to bands like Faces.
The mercurial Robert Pollard is ’90s indie-rock’s patron saint of drunks. On “A Salty Salute,” from the 1995 disc Alien Lanes, he even sings the praise of public transit as a safeguard against DUIs. That album holds up remarkably well under the right conditions, namely in a cheap used car with its speakers shot to hell, but in a crowded bar its stylishly off-kilter performances and half-assed production values make it sound tinny and dated.
Before recording 1997’s Mag Earwhig!, Pollard fired the rest of GBV’s “classic” lineup and hired Cobra Verde as his backup band. His songwriting has the same festivity and emotional range, and the new band sounds bigger and fuller, its fat, scratchy hooks better enjoyed over the din of blitzed tavern patrons. Thus, I’d save Alien Lanes for the ride home (on a city bus, with headphones) and nominate Mag Earwhig! for the jukebox.
Track 1, “Prayer To God,” is the feel-good song of breakups. It summons pain on those that did you wrong. It can never be played on radio. It’s a juvenile song about a very real hope. It will make you feel better and people that are passively listening will no longer be passively listening to background music. Shellac doesn’t make background music.
Guest Pick: Daniel Kibblesmith
Daniel is one of the funniest people on the Internet and a very nice man in bars and wherever else I drag him. Shellac’s angry breakup songs pair well with Dylan’s introspective breakup songs.
Blood on the Tracks. I’m drinking right? Jukeboxes are installed in places where people drink. Blood on the Tracks is the perfect album to be lonely to, even if you’re all lonely together, even if you’re hopelessly in love and just want to remember what lonely felt like when it was important that you be lonely for a while. Also jukeboxes are like six dollars now and those songs are like 11 minutes long.
It’s time to get some newer voices on this thing. Lynn makes quality, introspective, adult Americana music. It’s country but not pop country. It’s on the jukebox because the song “Out To Sea” is on this record. Her Letterman performance is better than the studio performance (the studio version is not bad, the Letterman one is just more immediate) but since that isn’t on a CD, we’re going with the 2014 record.
Guest Pick: Lera Lynn
Glad Lynn picked an album because she chose something no one else would have. This thing was lacking in mid-70s blues. No more.
It’s the perfect record for active or passive listening. It sets a really great mood, very relaxed, it’s lighthearted, but also if you wanted to tune in and really listen there’s plenty for you to sink your teeth into.
Faces are the best bar band, Bo Diddley is the best bar solo artist (the word ‘best’ has been used too much in this piece but remember, DREAM jukebox). The guy has his own beat. Beat. Not guitar style or recording technique, but beat. Bands and artists no longer get beats named after them. He beat Elvis to Ed Sullivan. He pissed off Ed Sullivan long before The Doors. He made his own guitars. He helped create hip-hop. He had female guitarists before most other male frontmen. He did things first and he did it best. Bo Diddley should be a national treasure, at least important as Chuck Berry if not Elvis. One way to honor his legacy is to play “Mona” as many times as you can afford. Then play “Pills” once because it’s great.
Guest Pick: Nicholas Rouley
I usually don’t respect my elders, but this 1968 release is one old timer I can really get behind. If you’re unfamiliar with the album, the band essentially played under the guise of 12 different bands, allowing them to display a wide net of musical styles. Some of ‘em rip, some of ‘em are funny and there ain’t no clunkers in the bunch! Choice cuts include the hot rod revvin’, Beach Boys styled “Surfer Dan,” the hit single “Eleonore” (which was actually a tongue in cheek “stuff you” to their record label) and the stoner classic “Food,” where the band not only sings about their favorite foods but also give a recipe for pot brownies. My favorite track though, hands down, is “Buzzsaw” by The Fabulous Dawgs. If you’re digging all the fuzzed out garage rock that the kids have been eating up these past few years, then this here is the grandaddy of ‘em all. Whenever I get to DJ out, no matter what the night calls for, this jammy sammy gets cranked to 11. This record is crucial to anyone with impeccable taste. Oh yeah, the opening track was written by Harry Nilsson, so anyone still doubting this LP can fuck right off.
Even if someone unfamiliar with the band puts on the first track, “Kentucky Bourbon,” they won’t be disappointed by it’s 33 second length. They’re likely to put on track 2, “As Long as There Is Whiskey in the World,” which will make anyone alone in a bar feel not so bad. Not good, but not so bad.
Guest Pick: Murder By Death’s Adam Turla
Murder By Death sounds nothing like Aretha Franklin. Doesn’t matter. Good and good and when it comes to Aretha, it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of who was going to pick one of her albums.
Any collection of Aretha Franklin songs, I never get sick of listening to that. I’m picking this comp from 2001 because it does NOT include her Adele cover and DOES include “Freeway of Love” which is a fun song you most likely forgot. -ed.
Laura Jane Grace, then Thomas James Gabel, produced a concept album about drugs and promiscuous sex, unjust war and stolen election a decade ago. 9 years later she produced another concept album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, a more important and powerful record. So why the 2005 Fat Wreck Chords record? “Don’t Lose Touch.”
Guest Pick: Chris Kelly
When I think of jukeboxes, I think of the ones in the Black Cat’s Red Room and The Raven; when I think of jukebox albums, I think of old favorites that stoke nostalgia in bars like that. Ted Leo’s first proper Pharmacists record, Tyranny of Distance, fits that criteria: the album that broke through my emo-punk period and introduced me to one of our greatest songwriters.
Dropped in a jukebox, Tyranny of Distance gives you 10 or 11 pop-rock songs for any occasion (depending on your criteria): sing-along anthems (“Timorous Me”, “Dial Up”), personal-political punk (“My Vien Ilin”), pastoral folk (“The Gold Finch…”), and — if you’re as liable to play “Machine Gun” in a bar as I am — the 8-minute “Stove By A Whale”. Or just put in $20 and play the whole thing. Who (especially in D.C.) doesn’t like Ted Leo?
This is not The Handsome Family’s best record. It’s not even in their top 3. It doesn’t feature their most well-known song. But it does feature the best recording of my favorite Handsome Family song, “The Woman Downstairs.” This is the song that made me pay attention whenever they released a new album. Hopefully it’ll do the same with strangers in the bar.
Guest Pick: The Handsome Family
Another Dylan album! Let me explain.
Bob Dylan, like David Bowie and Curtis Mayfield and Iggy Pop and others on this jukebox, didn’t do just one thing. The first Dylan album on this thing is all about heartbreak. The Handsome Family’s pick is not about heartbreak.
The title of this record is the name of an outlaw folk-hero. The cover pictures Bob with group-two Asians and a stonemason. Images of The Beatles are supposedly hidden in the tree. The ensemble is radical for its time-acoustic guitar, drums and bass-very unusual. No electric guitar! And the drums!! This is one of the most important drum records of the decade, it not the history of pop. Dylan went down to Nashville supposedly on a lark and hooked up with some session guys, one of whom was this drummer Kenny Buttrey-this guy was the man; he started working with Chet Atkins when he was 14, he played on Neil Young’s Harvest; over the years he played with J.J. Cale, Bob Seger, Gordon Lightfoot, Elvis Presley, Donovan, George Harrison, Joan Baez, and Kris Kristofferson, to name a few. His name should be a household word. So here’s to Kenny Buttrey.
D.C.’s hardest working band happens to be friends of mine and friends of BYT. That’s one of the cool things about a programming a jukebox, turning your friends onto your other friends. The first single from the Paperhaus self-titled 2015 album will hopefully turn on your friends.
Guest Pick: Paperhaus’ Alex Tebeleff
In addition to be being a musician, Alex is a champion of DIY music scenes. His pick has more to do with his musical DNA than his championing of all things local.
My favorite album of all time. It’s kind of a freak record, it doesn’t sound like anything else. The songwriting is incredibly, the musicians are amazing, it’s an incredibly original psychedelic record. It’s the epitome of creativity in the funk genre. D’Angelo’s Black Messiah is close. Both are incredibly moody and soulful and bare bones and raw. There’s a Riot Goin’ On is a raw record, both emotionally and sonic. Sly was re-recording things so there’s some natural tape degradation that fits the aesthetic. The destructive process in making the album informed the sound. It’s one of those records you can grow with and never gets old.
I was never a big Granddaddy fan. A friend played me Jason Lytle’s first solo album and I’m glad he did. I am becoming a big Granddaddy fan. His first solo record grows like Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. An interesting opening track that sets the sonic palate for the next 11 tracks.
Guest Pick Legba Carrefour
BYT contributor Legba Carrefour is one of my favorite people to spend time with in a bar or anywhere where groups of people gather. An interesting person, fantastic conversationalist and nice man. One of the things we’ve bonded over is David Lynch. Late last decade Lynch, Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse worked on an album and art project entitled Dark Night of the Soul. A highlight of the long delayed record is track 3, “Jaykub,” sung by Jason Lytle.
This Quebecois cult (yes, they describe themselves as a cult. I think) was very much a part of the brilliant and insane mid-aughts Montreal nightclub scene that blended electroclash and punk in a way that you could drink to, dance to, fight to, scream to, queer to (yes, that’s a verb) and, in the case of their live performance at New York’s CMJ music festival in 2009, jump on someone’s shoulders and demand they charge and chickenfight any motherfucker foolhardy enough to get in their way to. Don’t believe me? The New York Times wrote about the incident, I was one of the chickens, and I still bear the scars from taking singer Annie-Claude Deschênes boot to my skull. That’s a future ex-wife, right there. Put their single “Black Flag” and any of the remixes on your hypothetical jukebox and prepare for the bar to get weird.
Howlin’ Wolf is my favorite bluesman on the Chess Records roster. I prefer him to Muddy Waters. I also prefer Bo Diddley to Chuck Berry and that’s why I’ll never run a successful label.
Guest Pick: Harold Moore
Harold is a good friend that has drank with me in bars and in fields and at parties in Chicago and D.C. He was kind enough to go back and forth with me about his jukebox pick. Initially this slot belonged to Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall, an amazing album that will get overplayed anywhere it lives. It’s a record I’ve played at more parties than I can count. But parties are different than bars.
Similiar to Curtis Mayfield, I want Iggy Pop on any jukebox in as many places as possible. He’s already been on two soundtracks and he’s back fronting the greatest band from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Wolf is next to The Stooges because he’s one of Iggy’s biggest idols. What Iggy’s been doing for the last 45 years, Wolf did the previous 20.
The Stooges self-titled would be a good jukebox album because it’d play well in the background, is notable enough but not so much that it makes me want to puke and it would age the bar. It’d be clear that the night wasn’t about PLUR or getting jiggy or whatever else the kids are doing these days. As well, it’d be good talk about aging punk/counterculture artists and argue about what selling out really means, man.
“Waiting Room” will be played often, but not overplayed. Casual Fugazi fans will play it but real fans will go deeper. This also happens with Television’s “Marquee Moon.”
Guest Pick: Fugazi and Deathfix’s Brendan Canty
I actually like Canty’s most recent record with his most recent band, Deathfix’s self-titled, more than 13 Songs, but this isn’t my personal mix, it’s the people’s mix. What band is more for the people than Fugazi?
The secret society of Wiper’s worshipers is not so secret anymore. Anyone with a passing interest in guitars has already listened to this record a million times. Yet, it’s sprawling atmosphere engulfs and transfixes any room where it’s played, keeping the devoted Wipers-head in a state of rapture until the last note can be heard on the fade out of the title track “Youth of America”. Appropriately the last song on side B. Fast, sad, pleading and gorgeous.
Curtis Mayfield (last appearance, I promise) helped make one of the best psychedelic rocks songs of all time. “Check Out Your Mind” is the blueprint for so much that still sounds new. I have and will continue playing this at every social function where I am allowed access to a turntable and/or mp3 player. I bought the 45 in a used bin for $.50 in 2001. Best half dollar I ever spent.
Guest Pick: The Vinyl District’s Jon Meyers
The Vinyl District produces the excellent DC Record Fair. Jon was nice enough to let me DJ at a DC Record Fair and I did play The Impressions’ “Check Out Your Mind.”
When we reference “post punk” in 2015, what we’re really saying is post-post punk—and one of the finest practitioners of the first wave of post punk was The Sound. Formed in South London in ’79, the band perfected a gritty and unique brand of angst falling somewhere among Joy Division, Teardrop Explodes, and Echo and the Bunnymen–yet lacked the wide acclaim of their contemporaries.
From the Lion’s Mouth is their career high-point and is as vital today as it was when first laid to wax. (And shouldn’t a great jukebox get you off your bar stool to discover a new/old band?)
This is technically my pick but it’s really Chuck Ciba’s, a good friend that turned me onto early ska and reggae. I thought I hated this stuff. I was wrong. Like all genres, there’s good and bad and great. This is a 16 track compilation that will feel like an idiot for connecting all reggae to bros that like Bob Marley.
Guest Pick: Haywood Turnipseed Jr
Speaking of Bob Marley, Haywood is another friend that was kind enough to go back and forth with me about this pick. At first it was Bob Marley’s Legend. After a lengthy back and forth, we came to the conclusion that bros earn their reputation to live version of “No Woman, No Cry”. Common’s Be was suggested. We’ve settled somewhere in the middle.
Distant Relatives needs to be inside the Dream Jukebox, it needs to be in a time-capsule, preserving the first decade of this century. The whole album is awesome; not one track worth skipping. Its got lyrics, spirit, and riddims. Nas and Damian Marley bring both of their styles together, flawlessly. Big Ups!!!
Every song on this album is a hit. A hit that hasn’t been overplayed. A hit that still sounds new. A hit that not everyone knows. How does not everyone know this album?
Guest Pick: TNT’s Michael Saretsky
Michael Saretsky is my favorite party DJ. Part of the TNT night at Haydee’s, he’s the guy I know with the deepest knowledge of soul music I’ve never heard. I’m surprised with his pick but in no way disappointed.
The Ramones “spent the night together” with the Stones in Sydney — Radio Birdman was their lovechild. These Aussie rockers stood out from their first wave punk contemporaries by transcending the baseline of angst with intelligence. Their debut album, Radios Appear, is chock full of power chord aggression and madness. But it is anchored by so much more — melody, intricate leads, and irregular rhythmic persistence. From the opening waves of “Aloha Steve & Danno” to the “Descent into the Maelstrom,” this record shreds as much as it enthralls. A perfect storm of rock and roll that has silently inspired over three decades of riffage that followed. Too bad AC/DC gets all the credit down under!
The new Speedy Ortiz is great. One of the perks of this job is hearing music that some of your friends know but all of your friends should know. This is one of those bands.
Guest Pick: Speedy Ortiz
When we interviewed Speedy Ortiz about their nightmare gig, they told a horrid story about a night in Montana that could have ended in death. They picked an album that will make people in any bar want to kill them.
It’s fun to put that song on and see people’s reactions to having this really droney 60 something minute long stoner song.
The new Courtney Barnett record is better than her last and that’s no small feat. A favorite of the BYT office so it has to be on here.
Guest Pick: Josh Phelps
BYT writer Josh Phelps is a fantastic music fan. He’s got a critical ear and is the person that first put on that Courtney Barnett record. He’s also making this jukebox a little bitter by programming a classic.
Missy Elliott may be know more lately for showing up at Super Bowls or soundtracking scenes in Apatow comedies but, 18 years ago Supa Dupa Fly took R&B and rap to a weird place it desperately needed to go. With a platinum pen that had scored hits for Aaliyah, Total, and 702, she teamed up with Timbaland on her solo debut that featured her rapping and singing over the oddly timed electronic bounce emanating from the 757. She went on to release a string of slick, sheen hits but the dirty, lurching synths of “The Rain” marks the moment when her squad created a whole new lane for hip hop. Of note: also got her touring with Jay-Z and Lilith Fair in the same calendar year.
My only EP pick. Pity Sex does have a good 2013 LP, but “Dogwalk” is such a good song, let’s-start-a-band-right-now good song.
Guest Pick: Pity Sex
Pity Sex has band members of both genders and so do Yo La Tengo. Both also make college rock that people with large book collections enjoy.
Start to finish, every song is super great. It’s great for a bar because it’s a chill, fun record that’s still catchy all the way through. It’s the epitome of everything I like to listen to.
Not the best Local H album (Pack Up The Cats) or the album with the most singles you’ll hear on the radio (As Good As Dead) or the best covers (Local H’s Awesome Mix Tape #1) or the most sing-along songs (Whatever Happened To P.J. Soles?), but it is the album that hits the most genres. It’s the album that’s about being in a bar, happy and sad. It’s an album that name checks really good bands. It’s an album with enough diversity you won’t get sick of any one month.
Guest Pick: Local H’s Scott Lucas
If you don’t have AC/DC in your jukebox what good are you? Seriously! What good are you? Despite it being very fashionable to say so, I’m not entirely sure that this is the best AC/DC record, High Voltage and Dirty Deeds are great Bon records (so is the ’74 Jailbreak EP, but that’s too short), and fuck all the Brian Johnson haters, Back In Black is one of the greatest records ever made, but Powerage has all the classics that HAVEN’T been played to death on classic rock radio. And make no mistake, they ARE classics: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Damnation”, “Sin City”, “Gimme A Bullet”. The riffs are killer and the production is, predictably, free of bullshit. Perfect pool shooting music (especially if you play “Gone Shootin”). This record makes you feel like a bad-ass –even if you’re not. So, be careful.
Jarvic Cocker recorded Further Complications with Steve Albini in Chicago during the 08-09 winter. The bar I worked at was located a few blocks from Albini’s studio. Cocker would come in most nights. He drank pints of beer and tipped well and never acted drunk. The bars favorite musician ended up singing on a few songs on the record. As soon as the record was released it was added to the jukebox.
Guest Pick: Looking Glass Lounge
The last pick relates to this pick for two reasons. 1. The next pick was also recorded by Steve Albini and 2. The bar mentioned above favorite performer played a set at the Looking Glass Lounge on Memorial Day 2011. During his set some guys tried to break in his van. Petworth has changed.
This Steve Albini produced album is full of two minute long spastic punk rock anthems. You’d think that the crass, at times juvenile lyrics (“All of your friends are cunts/ Your mother is a ball point pen thief”) would get old, but its power riffs and tight as a baby’s fist timing ensures that it never does. When the joyously anthemic “To Hell With Good Intentions” is played at the bar, those who know it won’t be able to resist screaming along. The rest will find out about it for next time.
Another mandatory American record. Actually, two records. Thanks, CD technology! Big Stars first two records inspired as many bands as The Velvet Underground. And That 70s Show.
Guest Pick: James Fritz
James is an old friend and an LA-based comic. We used to drink together and listen to bands like Big Star and The Replacements and Faces. He’s another person I contacted as soon as this piece was conceived. His pick does not disappoint.
The Boatman’s Call by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. And you can only play the whole album straight through. And you can only play it once per calendar year. So you have to make it count. You have to look directly in the old bartender’s watery eyes while you ask permission. If he deems your sorrow deep enough for the flood, he’ll quietly pour you a warm shot of whiskey and give a nod to the jukebox. Then it will begin to play. (PS there is no sunlight in this bar save for a small sliver shining through the crack underneath the back door) (PPS we don’t serve Fireball) (PPPS the bar just closed due to lack of customers because Jesus Christ is your finger not the pulse of the zeitgeist buddy.)
Awesome band name, awesome 3-piece band. I knew nothing about these guys last week. Now I do. Their upcoming record is a great 10-track psychadelic, showgaze pop record. One of Canada’s finest.
Guest Pick: Weed
From one Canadian act to another…
As a group we listened to this album in the van more than anything else and it still holds up. The new one is great too but this one just has so many beautiful, emotional songs and I know for me it was the real introduction to that ethereal rap production that’s ubiquitous now (maybe it was before too). Not sure if it influenced our actual band musically on the records or anything but we all feel so connected to this and it will always remind me of being on tour with Weed.
Numero Group is my favorite record label. There isn’t a bad release in their Eccentric Soul series. So why this double-disc compilation over any other? Because I own this one, that’s why. Really, they’re all fantastic. An entire jukebox full of Numero Group records would be a-OK with me.
Guest Pick: Danielle Puterbaugh
One half of The Puterbaugh Sisters understands what it’s like to appreciate music in an altered state.
This goes down as the number one album of all time for me. It’s just as astonishing to listen to while drunk, sober or severly stoned. Although, if I could suggest the best way to do it, I’d say, get as stoned as possible and listen to this album on vinyl. When people say “They don’t make them like they used to,” I think they’re referring to this album.
Guest Pick: Listen Local First’s Chris Naoum
There’s a reason there’s one double-album on this thing.
The whole album is a jukebox in and of itself from “The Ballad of Rocky Raccoon” to the original punk anthem “Helter Skelter.” So many influences, genres and distinct sounding tracks on one album. It is such a unique album because as I get older, every time I revisit the album I have a new appreciation for different songs. The songs I was drawn too as a toddler in my living room were different than the ones I cherished listening to in my car as a junior driving to high school and are even different than the songs that intrigue me today. The only constant is that “Everybody’s got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey” has been my favorite from age 3 to 33
We’re nearly there. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot isn’t dad rock or meandering or too sweet or too sad and stays ambitious. Wilco at their artistic peak. It’ll be hard to top this one and it’ll be hard to ever get it off the jukebox because people will play “Heavy Metal Drummer” too often and you’ll wish they played “Kamera” too often. This one is for the customers and the staff. After hours, it’s perfect.
Guest Pick: Ian Graham
A former coworker once asked me for music recommendations and I offered him XO. The next day he told me it was like he’d found a long lost sequel to The White Album. (Listen to “Baby Britain” back-to-back with “Savoy Truffle.”) I’d been listening to the album for the better part of six years at that point — I bought my first Elliott Smith album a few weeks prior to his death — and I’d never made that connection. The ideal jukebox needs a few albums for sad drinking. XO is that, but it sounds enough like the British Invasion people won’t get upset when you put it on.
That’s it. Albums were cut, feelings were hurt. Some will be on the 2016 Dream Jukebox. Some will never be on the Dream Jukebox. Blink 182 will never be on the Dream Jukebox. Guns N Roses is on the fence.
Thanks to everyone that read the first part and extra special thanks to all the people that gave notes on the first part. I hope you’re equally interested and perturbed with part 2.